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IBEW Local 111, Denver, Colorado, Business Manager Robert Mason (seated at right) and IBEW International Representative Rick Ellis (standing, center) meet with Quanta Services, Inc. CEO John Colson (standing, left); PAR Electrical Contractors Inc. President John Wilson (standing, right); and R.A. Waffensmith & Company Inc. President Greg Palmer (seated, left).

IBEW Takes It Outside:
National Outside Organizing Program Scores Gains

January/February 2002 IBEW Journal

Highlights of recent organizing victories within the Outside Branch were announced at the IBEW Construction Organizing Conference November 5, 2001, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The IBEW National Outside Organizing Program, unveiled last March, was established to reinvigorate outside organizing throughout the United States. Big gains are already being made, said Ronald Burke, director of the Construction Organizing Department.

Delegates to the Las Vegas conference heard an update on the national program and on other outside organizing drives. Today we are reporting on our first steps toward our ultimate goal of recapturing what is rightfully ours, the outside industry, said International Representative Rick Ellis of the Construction Organizing Department, who announced several newly organized contractors.

More success stories have poured in since the conference. When all the contracts resulting from these recent campaigns have been signed, Burke said, the IBEW will have gained approximately 1,330 new outside branch members.

Recent Outside Branch Victories:

Local 111, Denver, Colorado, organized approximately 225 employees of R.A. Waffensmith & Company, Inc., which has distribution and telecommunications crews based in Denver. Waffensmith is a Quanta Services, Inc. subsidiary.

Local 769, Phoenix, Arizona, organized 30 employees of Argent Construction, Inc., with distribution line crews in Arizona.

Local 369, Louisville, Kentucky, organized 79 employees of Charter Communications, Inc., a large national cable television company that installs fiber optic cable. | More |

  • Four Election Victories at Asplundh Tree Expert Company:
  1. Local 222, Orlando, Florida, conducted a big campaign covering approximately 509 employees of Asplundh, an outside line clearance tree trimming company. Employees voted overwhelmingly, by 329 to 82, for IBEW representation.
  2. Local 716, Houston, Texas, won an election covering 288 Asplundh employees. | More |
  3. Local 960, El Paso, Texas, organized 14 Asplundh employees. The vote was unanimous, 11-0.
  4. Local 876, Grand Rapids, Michigan, conducted a successful organizing campaign covering approximately 20 Asplundh employees. Local 876 was significantly assisted in the campaign by Local 2150, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Local 17, Detroit, Michigan.

Local 876 in Grand Rapids also organized approximately 70 employees of Great Heights Tree Service, Inc. In addition, Local 876 signed Wright Tree Service, Inc. and Nelson Tree Service, Inc., both of which voluntarily became signatory contractors. Locals 2150 and 17 also assisted in these three campaigns.

Local 245, Toledo, Ohio, prevailed in an election for approximately 20 employees of Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Local 71, Columbus, Ohio, organized approximately five employees at Booth Excavating Company, which builds electrical substations.

Local 125, Portland, Oregon, organized five employees of Hixson Construction, which does work at electrical generation sites and installs cable.

Local 1393, Indianapolis, Indiana, organized 19 employees of Kanakee Valley Rural Electric Co-Op (vote 13-6). Local 1393 also organized 7 employees of Fiber Optic Specialist, Inc. (vote 5-1).

IBEWs National Outside Organizing Program:

International President Hill has emphasized the IBEWs absolute commitment to organizing. We are still keeping those who are qualified out of our ranks, and theyre gaining in strength, President Hill has said. We must bring them into our ranks, and we must teach those who are in need of additional training.

A national task force, consisting of a representative from each of the 10 U.S. districts, has been instrumental in the design and implementation of the National Outside Organizing Program. Ninety-five percent of IBEWs outside locals participate toward funding of the National Outside Campaign Fund, and President Hill is committed to matching the locals contributions.

Thanks go out to all the IBEW local unions with outside jurisdiction for making this program available and making it a success, Ellis told the Las Vegas conference. We have made a good start, but we have a long way to go before we reach 100 percent. We are picking up speed. However, there is a lot of work to be done in the outside.

President Hill has appointed nine District Outside Organizing Coordinators thus far, with the appointment of the 10th District coordinator pending. The district organizers are doing a terrific job and are dedicated to IBEW organizing efforts, Ellis added. They are covering a lot of territory in an effort to assist in campaigns in every locals jurisdiction and are there to help whenever an obstacle arises. They are willing to salt and assist locals in their organizing endeavors.

There is a lot of hope for regaining our industry. But, its a challengeand extremely rewarding if you can help a fellow lineman or apprentice, with whom we have a lot in common, find better working conditions and a safe working environment.

Future goals are for all locals with outside jurisdiction to have an organizer in place who can devote 100 percent of his or her time to organizing, Ellis said. Another goal is to make these workers feel like they are a part of the IBEW and as proud as you and I are to be a member of the IBEW.

Interested in participating in the IBEWs Outside Organizing Campaign as a salt? Contact International Representative Rick Ellis at (202) 728-6077 or e-mail him at rick_ellis@ibew.org.