Out-of-state workers out of luck in Lawrence as Mass. declines to relax standards

Out-of-state workers out of luck in Lawrence as Mass. declines to relax standards

BOSTON — A number of electricians say they arrived from out of state to help with the recovery after the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, but have been told they can’t work due to Massachusetts’ licensing laws.

An electrician from Omaha told Boston 25 News by phone Tuesday he responded to a call for help from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 union.

He said he dropped what he was doing and arrived Friday, but hasn’t had any work since then.

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A spokesperson for IBEW told Boston 25 News the division of professional licensure voted Monday to allow only out of state electricians from New Hampshire to get a temporary work license in Massachusetts.

Now, workers from many other states are left in limbo.

“If you want to blame me - blame me. The blame lies with me,” IBEW Business Manager Lou Antonellis told Boston 25 News by phone Tuesday. “There are some hurdles in way.”

We have messages out to the Division of Licensure about calls by the IBEW to relax rules further for other out of state workers.

The worker from Omaha says he and others can’t wait much longer.

“We have families to support,” the worker, who didn’t want to be identified, said. “We came here to help, we can’t stay much longer.”

Antonellis is asking other out-of-state workers to “hang tight”, saying, “any help we can get is welcome.”

So, workers who came to help victims of the explosions may be leaving before being able to help.