March 2010

Letters to the Editor
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Helping Hands

I was excited to have the opportunity to help construct and wire a Christian school in Chinandega, Nicaragua, for two weeks, along with 29 other volunteers. It was hard work, but fun. We ran PVC conduit for switches, lights, fans and receptacles. It was challenging because we did most of the electrical work in the block and concrete structure that had already been completed. They did not want any conduit or boxes exposed, so we had to do a lot of saw cutting and chipping with pickaxes and hammers. All of the boxes and conduits that were in the walls were mortared in place once installed. After we installed several conduits in the floor, we poured a new concrete floor in the school. All of the concrete and mortar we used was made on site, mixed and poured by hand.

Donald C. Schroeder, III
Local 236 third-year apprentice, Albany, N.Y.

Third-year apprentice Donald C. Schroeder, III, kneeling, helped wire a Nicaraguan school.

Honoring the Heroes

I want to acknowledge and thank all of the tradesmen at the Elm Road Generating Station (Oak Creek power plant), Bechtel Construction Co. and the IBEW for their generous support of the Homes for Our Troops project in the town of Eagle and for the many care packages they send to our local soldiers serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In these hard economic times, I am proud of my union brothers along with the support of their employers for giving back to the community. They know how fortunate they are to have a job and their generosity toward worthy causes when the "hard hat" is passed is a shining example of what sharing and being thankful is all about.

Let us never forget that the men and women who answered the call when our country came under attack make it possible for all of us to live and work in freedom.

Patrick E. Cain
Local 494 member, Milwaukee, Wisc.

Why it Matters

I have been troubled by the news of Hershey Chocolates moving its production from Hershey, Pa., to Mexico. My wife and I have totally banned purchasing any product that is made by the Hershey Chocolate Co. No more Hershey bars with almonds (my favorite), no Reece's Cups or Reece's Pieces (a family favorite), no Hershey's chocolate syrup.

Having been a union member and employee for 30 years of Toledo Edison, I have watched as my local's membership has dwindled to a fraction of its past size. And I have had to endure the cuts in benefits and compensation my local has had to accept in contract negotiations with the company the past 20 years.

Consider a simple can of mushrooms. The steel for the can, the can manufacturer and the processing plant that cans the mushrooms all consume large amounts of electricity. My union brothers operate the power plants supplying this electricity and my union brothers maintain the distribution lines supplying this electricity. A simple mushroom helps to maintain my union benefits and compensation.

Give consideration to these basic thoughts when utilizing your purchasing power. Does my purchase:

  1. Enhance the life of an American worker?
  2. Contribute to America's national security?
  3. Provide for the development of local and sustainable products?
  4. Protect the benefits and compensation of my union brotherhood?

Steven C. Dunaway
Local 245 member, Toledo, Ohio