March 2010

Organizing Wire
index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to
Arizona Utility Workers Vote IBEW

Most of the public service inspectors for Arizona Public Service had been union linemen at one point in their careers.

So when they found out that management at the state's largest utility had unilaterally changed their work rules, they knew just what to do: they contacted the IBEW.

"These guys understood what joining a union meant," said Seventh District International Representative Tim Bowden. "And the company had done just enough to get them upset and ready to do something about their job situation."

The workers, who are responsible for making sure construction contractors comply with official company building guidelines, started having breakfast meetings to talk strategy.

"They got together on their own and said ‘Are we going to do this or not?'" said Bowden, who is also Region 4 Organizing Coordinator.

They filed for an election on January 2. "The company wasn't exactly thrilled, but these guys are ex-linemen, so there isn't much that can intimidate them," Bowden said. "All they wanted was a contract like everyone else at the company."

On Feb. 24, they voted 18-5 to be represented by Phoenix Local 387. The local already represents the majority of linemen and power plant workers at the utility.

Bowden credits Seventh District International Vice President Jonathan Gardner, Local 387 Business Manager Robert DeSpain and Asst. Business Manager Veronica Hensley for their role in helping to make the victory happen.

The recent win in Arizona puts the IBEW at a nearly 70 percent win rate in non-construction organizing for 2010, says Director of Professional and Industrial Organizing Brian Ahakuelo.