Electricians group sues Comcast, Verizon over home-security installation

A trade association of contractors who install home security systems charges the two telecommunications companies are violating state law and possibly putting residents' lives in danger by letting unlicensed technicians install their own burglar alarms and smoke detectors.

In a lawsuit originally filed last month in state court but transferred this week to US District Court in Boston, the Massachusetts Systems Contractors Association charges:

The performance of Security Systems Work by Comcast and Verizon has caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to MSCA member and to the public due to the life safety and security concerns associated with the work. The legislature has enacted multiple licensure requirement to ensure that those performing this work are educated, competent and trustworthy. In bypassing all these legislative requirements, Comcast and Verizon are causing substantial and irreparable harm.

The association is asking for a judge to order the two companies to knock it off immediately.



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Is that so...

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Where is the proof they are doing a poor job? I'm not claiming that all licensing is bad, but it's required for some 30% of occupations these days (including hair dressers, FFS) and is mostly becoming a weapon to protect established groups from competition - having the worst impact upon the poor who have the largest problems meeting the financial burden for licensing.

Presumably, Verizon and Comcast are on the hook for any poor workmanship and are interested in their service being reliable. Is there evidence of wrongdoing yet?

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Have you ever deal with Comcast or Verizon?

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Sub Par Work

It isn't just about the homeowner or consumer protection, either. False alarms waste enormous amounts of emergency responder time. Some communities limit the false alarms and fine for more than one or a few in a year because of that.

Whether unlicensed installers result in poor installation and wasted community resources, I don't know. However, one would tend to think that licensing leads to accountability in such matters - and Comcast, at least, doesn't believe in accountability.

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False alarms waste enormous

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False alarms waste enormous amounts of emergency responder time.

do you have any data to back that claim up or are you just pulling it our of your assterix because it sound good and is plausible to your bias?

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Google Is Your Friend

In the United States in 2002, police responded to
approximately 36 million alarm activations, at an estimated
annual cost of $1.8 billion.1 Most of these activations
were burglar alarms.§ This guide examines current police
responses and presents alternative strategies to address
the false alarm dilemma. Purchasers of an alarm system
are told to expect a police response to an alarm activation,
even though they bought the system from a private alarm
company with no link to a police department. The vast
majority of alarm calls—between 94 and 98 percent
(higher in some jurisdictions)—are false.§§ In other words,
alarms’ reliability, which can be measured by these rates
of false activations, is generally between 2 and 6 percent.
Nationwide, false alarms account for somewhere between
10 and 25 percent of all calls to police.2

Source: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/files/ric/Publications/e...

This took me all of a minute to find via google, BTW.

10-25% of all calls to police are false alarms. This is actually down since 1998 report with data from the early '90s, however, when the false alarms were closer to 35% of calls. Perhaps licensing installers had something to do with that?

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Lets be serious here for a

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Lets be serious here for a moment, the only reason why they are suing is because they are using non union labor to do this. In short, the union is just p*ssed off because they are losing money. Its the only reason, not because they think its shotty work as many electricians get tired of the union and just do it on their own. These people who leave the union are just as good at their jobs as union people, minus the high price.

Typical unions, crying foul when they are losing money.

Im not surprised by this at all.. not one bit. Its clear in MA how powerful and greedy the unions are, here's a case in point.

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Trade association, not a union.

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Who Are the Members of the MSCA?

The membership consists of companies that are all active in some aspect of the installation, service, maintenance, monitoring, distribution or manufacture of systems and equipment. Their sizes range from large national companies to individual proprietorships.

From http://www.msca-systems.org , where there isn't a single mention of any union affiliation.

How are you reading a union angle into this?

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From the link you supplied:

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From the link you supplied: "MSCA is a trade association of companies" - if this is not a union, what do you think a "union" is?

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To begin with?

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A union is usually an association of workers, not companies....you know, the thing unions are usually defending against.

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misidentifying the powerful and greedy

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You say: "Its clear in MA how powerful and greedy the unions are..."

[float=right]IMAGE(http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk143/nfsagan/1130-inequality-chart_full_380.jpg)[/float]"The idea unions are the real problem when all the money is flowing to the top is part of the delusion."
- Jeff D Sachs

No doubt about it. The powerful and greedy control much of the wealth and income in the US but it isn't the unions. Most of the income gains go to top, and a jaw-dropping 85% of the nation's wealth is possessed by the top 20%.

It has taken 30 years to put in place policies that favor the wealthy (and hurt the middle class and poor.)

Conservatives, who have sold out to the wealthiest interests in the USA are pursuing that agenda on steroids. Since 2010, Congress and conservative state governments have pursued a fairly radical agenda promoting the Paul Ryan budget plan, which includes another round of tax cuts for the wealthy while raising federal income tax on the poor and middle class, revoking collective bargaining, cutting social programs like unemployment insurance, food stamps, education, job training, medicare and social security while eliminating minimum wage and child labor laws. These same politics continue to give billions in federal tax money to the richest industry in the history of the world, oil and gas. A huge number of Americans rely on food stamps, 40 or 50 million, a number that's grown since Wall St crashed the economy, and yet conservatives in Federal govt voted repeatedly to pay oil companies billions in tax breaks but not fund food stamps.

Unions that bargain for wages and work conditions on behalf of working middle class families are not powerful per se but at least they have some leverage against employers who treat employees as a commodity, a cost, and not as people who have families to support. Henry Ford wanted his employees paid enough that they could afford to buy the cars they made. Reagan, rather than negotiate, fired the air traffic controllers who wanted to negotiate for wages and work conditions. In many parts of the world, collective bargaining is considered a fundamental human right. In Germany, company ownership works side-by-side with union leadership to set corporate goals and achieve them.

This attitude toward American workers is a Reagan era innovation. It posits that greed is good for financiers and corporate high flyers but greed is bad for middle class families trying to pay a mortgage, save for college, take a vacation and save for retirement. Greed is "success" for people who made hundreds of millions as Wall St financiers but greed is "unamerican" for the working class that earns an average $50,000 a year. What we have here is a double standard brought to you by one of the most powerful propaganda machines ever constructed.

Now, companies like Walmart lobby Federal and state government to end minimum wage and child labor laws right here in the USA. Welcome to neo-feudalism brought to you by the wealthiest people in America who think their wealth entitles them to control our government, too.

Learn about whats going on in state and federal governmentand vote. Realize that the propaganda machine in the US is one of the strongest ever built: Question.


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Actual is actual distribution

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Actual is actual distribution of wealth in the US.
Estimated is how Americans think wealth is distributed.
Ideal is how Americans think wealth should be distributed.

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Compare public sector unions

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Compare public sector unions to private sector unions.

There's a big difference.

Also a VERY BIG difference between trade associations and unions.

As far as the wealth dispersion in the past 30 years. Don't forget that globalization of trade, computers, and new forms of investments, have drastically changed how wealth is created. Money is less derived from physical goods being produce these days than it is from selling intellectual capital and trading stock. A large part of the 1% getting wealthier has been due to changes in technology which allow investments to accrue significantly more value than previously was possible.

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Should we take your word for it

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Compare public sector unions to private sector unions.

There's a big difference.

Should we take your word for it or do you intend to make an argument?

Part of Globalization was asking foreign countries to open their markets to US Corporations, and for the US in return to end tariffs -- tax on imported goods-- that were put in place long ago to protect our labor markets from the downward pressure of poorly compensated third world labor markets. Tariffs protected our hard-fought standard of living.

Do you see the trade-off that was made? US Corporations +1, American middle class -1. This bet, aka economic policy, like so many others was premised on trickle down economics, aka total bs. The promise of Globalization was that it would "lift all boats." The opposite has happened. Now manufacturers all over the US are competing with foreign labor that works for a pittance. America had companies that specialized in outsourcing manufacturing to cheap labor around the world, exploiting them and exploiting American workers who had been making it in America.

Globalization was a failure for every one in advanced Western economies ... except the top 1%.

Unions are a red herring. Unions are the only group with some leverage to negotiate for wages and work conditions. Instead of joining the chorus of wingnuts trying to deprive working families that are members of a union of decent wages and benefits, insist on fair compensation for yourself too. If we stick together, we win.

JP Morgan recently published a report that found from 2000 to 2008 the majority of earnings growth in US corporations came from declines in wages and benefits of their own workforces! Companies are cannibalizing their own work forces to keep the profits up. Last month, corporate profit hit an all time high, and wages hit an all time low.I'm pretty sure that's the trend and it will take a change in govt policy to change that course.

Unless you worth 5 million or more you're an idiot to vote for politicians who pursue the conservative economic agenda.

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Public sector unions pensions

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Public sector unions pensions are bankrupting the country on the backs of middle class Americans that will never get to retire. The general public receiving fewer public services in return for an increasing tax burden to feather bed public employees. You have to be insane to deny this is happening on a massive scale and is going to be a significant national crisis in a very short period of time.


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Thats BS

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Maybe, but only because the new paradigm is that private markets are no longer paying for retirement investment, nor have been keeping up with wages.

Public service unions typically have been keeping up with their wage and retirement obligations. Tax revenues have not, because of how much of it that would have come from private market wages is being sent through other channels like dividends and CEO deferred, low taxed pay.

Still, I do fault the unions for letting it get this bad. They circled the wagons and protected their own little islands while the rest of the middle class god ruff shodded over. Now the mob is coming for them.

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Uh, read it again

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The state licenses contractors. The claim is not that they are non-union. The claim is that they are unlicensed. Why have a licensing system if you are going to defend the companies ignoring the licensing system?

If it is important enough to have the state regulate whether the contractor is allowed to legally do these installations, then it's important enough to be sure everyone involved is compliant with the licensing laws.

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how does one get licensed in Ma?

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Recently I decided to remodel one of my bathrooms. I visited the Boston permitting dept to obtain the necessary permits, but I was turned away under the pretense that only licensed plumbers are allowed to pull permits for any type of plumbing jobs. Fair enough. Since I have a solid understanding of the residential plumbing code, I decided to simply pass the exam and get a license for myself. Wrong. In order to obtain a plumber license in Ma, not only do I have to pass the test, but I also have to work for a "Master" plumber for a number of years, BEFORE I am eligible to be licensed. That is protectionism and the pipefitters union is fighting to protect this idiotic state.
So, what did I do? I simply remodeled my bathroom without the blessing of the city, without hiring "licensed" plumbers at rates exceeding $100/hr and without any permits. Problem solved.

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you are in violation of state and city codes, problem CREATED

Don't like 'em? Deal with your state rep or city councilor to change them. If you get a leak or a burst pipe as a result of an illegal act, good luck getting your insurance company to pay. We hate oversight by bureaucrats until we need them (Cf. Fannie, Freddie, Madoff, etc.)Some bonehead slumlord in Quincy did his own electrical a couple years ago. People burned to death but he did save that $200.
Biggest problem is that Comcast and Verizon are assholes. Watch for them to play rope-a-dope legally by inserting non-union subcontractors like Triwire Engineering to do the actual work, muddying the waters for who has culpability.

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Reply to comment you are in violation of state and city codes

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Does anyone even know what the system consists of? Or seen it in action, or installed? It's not hardwired in a metal panel with a bunch of loose resistors anymore. It's a wireless system. The technology continues to change and with it the laws and certain licensing should change as well to accommodate those technological changes. Gotta love the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

I agree an alarm should be installed by a qualified/tested alarm technician. But to say a master electrician has to oversee a d class person to set up what is technically a wireless IP driven network is crazy. That's a waste of a qualified electricians time. You don't need to have 8000 hours to understand how a motion sensor works or how to properly design, set up, and educate a homeowner on their alarm system.

Again, a technician should be properly tested and registered/licensed if the town or State mandates it.
But, they aren't running 110 lines throughout a 1700 sq ft house and need to know Ohms law or the resistor code or how to read a blue print and identify switches or put in fuses and build a breaker panel ; they are simply adding a device to an existing network that along with home automation has a monitored security feature, most electricians have no idea about security alarms and even someone with a masters license would be rendered useless when trying to troubleshoot conflicting IP issues or connectivity issues between the devices. Thus the testing should be updated as the physical part of it is now secondary to the technical knowledge needed to set up a wireless network, along with the simple aspects of the detection devices accompanying it.

Check out Lowes where you can buy a DIY system off the shelf..what kind of muddy water are they serving customers to pass off culpability?

Also- if the company is licensed to do said work they would be listed on an internet site that shows who does or does not have a license registered with the State.

Lastly and don't forget, everything you read on the internet is true.

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Perhaps you should first read

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Perhaps you should first read and understand the Mass licensing requiremenst before commenting. First of all Mass has set the minimum training requirements to become a qualified/tested alarm technician who is then allowed to install security and life safety systems. It's clearly spelled out in the law. There is no requirement for a master electrician to oversee a D class technician but rather a D licence can install for a Company holding a C licence. More importantly, the security company must hold an S License and all emplyees must hold a security clearance by the Dept of Public Safety with CORI checks. Do homeowners really want workers who don't meet the minimum training and security clearance requirements set by the State to design and install systems meant to protect their families? Why would Comcast try to circumvent minimum state requirements for training and security checks for their installers? My wife and kids safety are certailly worth more than entrusting workers who are unlicensed (have not met minimum training and education requirements) with unchecked backgrounds to design and intall a system meant to protect them.

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