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Int'l. Rep. and former Bus. Mgr. Tony Blankenship (standing) with families at farewell picnic.

Members at Thomson
Hold Farewell Cookout

September 2004 IBEW Journal

In March, Thomson Inc. announced that it was closing its Circleville, Ohio, TV glass-making plant. Over 500 members of IBEW Local 2331 were left to sort through emotions that some have likened to a death in the family. They had worked hard on hot furnaces around the clock. They stood together to fight for decent pay and benefits, developing the tight bond of union brothers and sisters. (See "IBEW Members at Thomson Face Shutdown of TV Tube and Glass Plants," IBEW Journal, May 2004).

Bus. Mgr. Lonnie Hawk
addresses members.

If the closing of the Circleville plant was a funeral of sorts, the "Thank You and Farewell" Cookout sponsored by Local 2331 on June 26 was the wake. "Our members enjoyed themselves immensely," said Lonnie Hawk, President and business manager. A lot of times, events like these turn nasty, but this was the best-attended function that we have held. Some of the members are now talking about doing an annual cookout."

As members ponder the difficult future of a community where Wal-Mart jobs have replaced good-paying manufacturing positions, some wonder if things could have ended differently. Lonnie Hawk, in a letter to IBEW President Ed Hill, thanked him for the approval of funds for the cookout and expressed his gratitude for being a member and local officer of "the greatest union in the United States and Canada, a union that truly cares about its members and their families." Hawk then asked Hill for one "final favor." He asked that Local 2331s story be shared with the Brotherhood. "I have to say that the past leadership and myself did not think that we would ever be shut down and did not look at job security as being at the top of the priority list. I implore other locals to bargain now when they dont need it because when they do it will be too late.