October/November 2001 IBEW Journal
The last day of the convention was punctuated
by moments of sadness and outpourings of generosity for victims
of the World Trade Center attack.
Reverend Kevin OReilly,
who gave the invocation
is pictured with his parents,
Senior Executive Assistant
to the International President
Vincent A. OReilly
and Joan OReilly.
Father Kevin P. OReilly, pastor of the Holy Faith Catholic
Church in Great Mills, Maryland, delivered the morning invocation.
OReilly, son of Senior Executive Assistant to the International
President Vincent OReilly, was stranded in Lincoln, Nebraska,
in his attempt to fly to the convention to give the invocation
Thursdaybut managed to arrive Friday. He led with a silent
prayer and continued with a plea for dignity and justice for
all workers. He also urged God to assist the delegation in
these days of tragedy and difficulty.
Ninth District International Vice President Michael Mowrey
announced that as a result of the cancellation of the districts
scheduled activities on September 11, the approximately $200,000
saved would be donated to the IBEW September 11 Relief Fund.
President Hill continued to announce donations to that fund
from locals across the Brotherhood.
Ray Melville, Local 3, New York City, who served as Chairman
of the Sergeant-at-Arms Committee, expressed the difficulties
experienced by members of the committee. One member lost his
brother, a firefighter, in New York. Others could not reach
their families by phone for several hours.
"Through all of this, these brothers and sisters went
about the business of this convention and carried out every
detail with professionalism and pride," Melville said.
He also thanked the convention for its financial and emotional
A delegate from Local 595, Dublin, California, requested
all business managers with military reservists as members
of their local set a policy to protect the members place
on the books while he or she is on active duty.
Delegate Keith Morris from Local 1212, New York City, made
a motion to dedicate the convention to all the workers missing
in the tragedy and rescue effort. That motion was easily carried
by a voice vote.
Washington, D.C., Local 26 Business Manager Howard Ritchie,
Jr. reported that no members of the local were lost in the
attack on the Pentagon, despite the fact that between 150
and 200 people were working there.
Delegate Ronnie Lee Meadows, Local 11, Los Angeles, rose
to urge the delegation to fly the American flag. "Let
the pictures the world sees of our country over the next few
days not be that of a whimpering, wounded nation licking its
wounds but that of a strong, powerful nation of people who
stand shoulder to shoulder with a single message that we are
Americans and we will not be defeated by these actions."
The Law Committee concluded its report on Friday.
Delegates approved Law Committee recommendations that provide
for member pension and other benefit improvements, including
a death benefit retroactive to Monday, September 10, 2001the
day before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
The amendment offered by President Hill and Secretary-Treasurer
OConnor makes the 25 percent increase in death benefits available
to families of the IBEW victims of the attack on the World
Trade Center. The delegation concurred with the Law Committee
in a voice vote. Until it was amended to include the September
11 tragedy, the pension increase would have kicked in after
December 31, 2001.
The Law Committee report said the improvements were reviewed
by the IBEW actuaries, who have said the Pension Benefit Fund
has a sufficient surplus to cover them without any increase
in the current level of funding. In its report, committee
members also said they believe it is appropriate to use surpluses
to benefit those who have paid into the plan the longest.
In other business, delegates agreed with the Law Committee
in nonconcurrence with a proposed change in the disability
pension. The resolution would have lowered the current eligibility
period for a disability pension from 20 years to five years.
IBEWs actuaries reported the change would have a significant
adverse effect on the fund.
Local 1253, Augusta, Maine, Business Manager Wayne Rancourt,
who submitted the constitutional change, rose to explain the
reasoning behind the proposala 15-year member became disabled
and had to pay his dues for five more years in order to get
his disability pension. He did not urge its adoption in light
of the recommendation of the Law Committee and the actuaries,
but requested the proposal be studied to determine whether
a compromise could be reached.
Delegates also approved a Law Committee recommendation regarding
local meetings. The constitution will be amended to state
a local union failing to meet for a month shall still forfeit
its charter but the quorum required to constitute a meeting
was lowered from seven to five if the membership of the local
is fewer than 75.
The convention approved by voice vote the committees recommended
change in the rules for taking the membership obligation outside
of a regular meeting. The rule was amended to allow greater
flexibility by replacing the word "organizer" with
"business managers designated representative."
An article on distributed energy and renewable energy was
affirmed by the delegates on the recommendation of the Law
Committee. The intent of the resolution is to identify and
incorporate technological advancements into the constitution
as IBEW jurisdictions. It also defined solar photovoltaic
jurisdiction, licensing, organizing and prevailing wage projects.
Delegates agreed with the Law Committee that a proposal to
change the referendum procedure was not warranted. In its
report, the committee said three recent conventions1982,
1991 and 1996also had considered changes in the referendum
procedure that were eventually rejected by delegates. The
proposal would have given locals the right to create and vote
on laws, eliminating the International Executive Councils
role in the process.
"Your committee believes this protection [IEC approval]
is essential to preserve the integrity of the referendum process,"
the report said.
President Hill announced the renovation of Chicagos famed
Palmolive Building was performed by a joint partnership of
the IBEW and National Electrical Contractors Association.
The beacon atop the building will be named the IBEW/NECA beacon
to celebrate the strong partnership.
The Resolutions Committee began its final report by bringing
back Resolution No. 9 on full reciprocity of welfare contributions
which had been sent back Thursday for further committee consideration.
The resolution was rejected by the delegates, supporting the
nonconcurrence recommendation of the Resolutions Committee.
Speakers on the issue posed arguments against a change. "Should
this body decide to pass a resolution and force individual
plans into full dollar amount reciprocity, they may in fact
be granting a higher level of benefit for traveling brothers
and sisters than the local participants actually receive,"
said Delegate Pat Healy, Local 313, Wilmington, Delaware.
"Do not be fooled into believing that you are eliminating
an injustice when you may be creating a new one."
Delegates also approved Resolution No. 39 in favor of expanding
trust and communication between employers and employees. The
resolution stipulates any employer participation program should
remain separate from the matters covered in collective bargaining
The delegates via voice vote agreed with committee reports
calling for a concurrence with:
The IBEWs continuing support for international trade agreements
that include the International Labor Organizations principles
of a ban on child labor, forced labor and discrimination in
employment, plus workers rights to freedom of association,
the right to organize and to bargain collectively;Member and
international office support of legislative efforts to protect
Social Security and Railroad Retirement programs from privatization;Celebrating
the solidarity between United States and Canada in the IBEW;Proclaiming
the period from November 28, 2001, to November 28, 2002, as
the IBEW 110th Anniversary year;Each local to encourage its
membership to urge passage of legislation correcting vesting
of pension benefit inequities under the Railroad Retirement
Act; andA coordinated labor effort pursuing prescription drug
reform to protect senior citizens from skyrocketing medication
On the recommendation of the Resolutions Committee, delegates
supported a proposal to go on record in support of the Boy
Scouts of America, following heated debate.
"Earlier during this convention, the delegates approved
a resolution that stated that the IBEW is committed to the
elimination of all forms of discrimination and harassment
and has not and will not condone or tolerate discrimination,
bias, favoritism, bigotry or prejudice in any form,"
said one delegate. "[This resolution] contradicts the
stand that this convention earlier took on discrimination.
The Boy Scouts of America openly discriminate against homosexuality.
We cannot support something that is completely contradictory
to something we have already approved."
A delegate, who identified himself as a former Boy Scout,
spoke in favor of the resolution. "The Scouts provide
good role models, guidance and leadership skills to our youth,"
he said. "They help prepare us for the future. I urge
all delegates to support the committees recommendation and
partnership with the Scouts."
Resolutions Committee members presented a substitute resolution
on sexual harassment. Both the original resolution and the
substitute reaffirm the IBEWs commitment to stamping out
sexual harassment but the original contained provisions for
review of claims by an independent body, a procedure not contained
in the IBEW Constitution. Delegates voted in favor of the
committees substitute resolution.
Finance Committee Chairman Duane Tidwell, Local 68, Denver,
reported credentials were issued for 2,627 delegates from
986 local unions, representing 774,386 members. He gave an
accounting of the dollars to be paid for travel and expenses
and said that Secretary-Treasurer OConnor has established
an account to meet all costs. Allen Shur, Local 569, San Diego,
served as committee secretary. The delegation voted to accept
the Finance Committees report.
Delegate Dennis McSpedon, president of Local 3, New York
City, thanked the members for their generosity and urged further
donations to victims be halted until a relief fund could be
established. [That fund, the "IBEWSeptember 11 Relief
Fund," has since been established by the International
Office.] McSpedon pointed out that Local 3 was not the only
one to lose members in the World Trade Center; it was reported
that Local 1212, New York City, and Local 164, Jersey City,
New Jersey did too, he said. [Ed. NoteIn fact, Local 164
did not lose any members in the September 11 attack.]
William Lindsay of Local 25 proposed that the convention
close by singing "God Bless America." President
Hill, after asking the Canadian delegation if it agreed, said
the convention would do so at the close of business. He then
announced the procedures for delegates to pick up their expense
President Hill began to make some closing remarks, but was
overcome by the emotion of the moment. The delegates applauded
him heartily, then closed by singing "God Bless America,"
a fitting end to a convention held during a trying time in
[ Hill Closing Remarks
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