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Tuesday, 30 October 2012 08:48

An Ordinary Story of Extraordinary Bravery, Brought to You by Union Labor

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WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Here in Boston, Hurricane Sandy started winding down near midnight. The wind was still howling, but the rain had slacked off, and you could just feel the pressure in the air lessening…and then, *piff*, the power went out.

I went outside to find the street dark for two blocks in both directions. Down the eastern end of the block, I saw the flashing yellow lights of a power company truck, and went to investigate. The last house on the right had the upper two-thirds of a huge tree lying on its roof, and the tree was draped across the power cables.

That’s when I saw the crane, and the guy hovering in midair.

Our local power company had brought in a crane to move the tree. The tree had not cut the power cables when it fell, but it was lying heavily across them, and the power company had cut the power in those cables in order to safely move the tree. The guy was in a harness, suspended in midair over the tree and the house, maybe three stories up. They maneuvered him into place, and he attached a series of lines to the tree. The engine on the crane revved, and the tree was slowly lifted off the roof.

And the guy went with it, hovering in space, guiding 50 feet of tree through the air. The tree looked like God’s Own Broccoli Floret floating there in the wind, and the guy went with it, up off the power cables, over the street, and slowly, slowly down to the ground.

All my neighbors were already out on their porches or down in the street with me to watch it all happen. Thirty seconds later, *piff*, the power came back on, and we cheered long and loud for what we had all just seen.

The guy I saw 50 feet of the ground, guiding that huge tree off the power cables and the house, was a member of the Utility Workers of America Local 369. All over the East Coast, and especially in New York and New Jersey, union workers just like him have been breaking their backs to keep the rest of us safe and to mitigate the damage done by this storm. Firefighters, rescue workers, police officers, utility workers, transit workers, postal workers: you name it, they’re doing it, men and women alike, and they are all members of a union.

Look for the Union label, America. Today, yesterday and tomorrow, we owe Union workers an incredibly large thank you.