State of Our Union Webcast Draws
Crowds and Stirs Dialogue
March 31, 2008
Union members and leaders gathered at halls, stadiums, TV studios and home computers across North America on March 27 to hear President Edwin D. Hill’s State of Our Union Message for the utility industry. But they weren’t just spectators to the multi-media presentation introducing an initiative urging members to foster excellence in their work.
The webcast, reaching 70 venues, included two question-and-answer segments, kicking off a dialogue on how to achieve excellence on the job, while building stronger relationships with the utility companies. The questions came live from the studio audience in Hollywood and by e-mail from as far away as Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“I told utility company CEO’s that the IBEW would be putting down an internal challenge to our members to be their best and to embrace cooperation over confrontation,” said Hill, introducing the webcast. “But I reminded them in no uncertain terms that the door swings both ways. I told them to meet us halfway and to clean up problems in their own backyards.”
Ron Delgado, president of Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47, took the microphone in Hollywood to ask what is being done to address the skilled labor shortage caused by a flood of baby boomer retirements. President Hill outlined the union’s ambitious plans to establish five regional training centers. He encouraged experienced members to volunteer as instructors and asked newer members to return to their high schools to recruit young people who are willing to work hard for good-paying union jobs.
From Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Business Manager Richard Irish, Rochester, N.Y., Local 36, asked how the local can establish a working relationship with Rochester Gas and Electric while the company employs a union-busting firm, to thwart an internal organizing campaign. “Don’t give up,” said President Hill. Hill, who encouraged Irish to take the union’s case to the community and “let them know you are alive” if the employer doesn’t respect the union’s efforts to cooperate in pursuit of excellence on the job and improved customer service.
Several utility CEO’s and leaders of utility locals were featured in the State of Our Union DVD, which is being distributed to all local unions. The message, says Hill, will be followed by the implementation of a Code of Excellence for the industry.