March 2010

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Larry Liles

International Representative Lawrence E. "Larry" Liles retired effective April 1. Initiated into Santa Barbara, Calif., Local 413 in 1978, Brother Liles worked as a journeyman inside wireman on onshore and offshore petrochemical projects and space shuttle launch facilities. He served as an apprentice instructor for more than four years and was elected business manager in 1987.

Under Liles' leadership, Local 413 initiated goal setting, established a funded targeting program and eliminated a dual-tiered wage scale through organizing. Liles solidified the local's benefit plans and training program. He also served as chairman of the Santa Barbara Building Trades Center Corp. and on the executive board of the State Association of Electrical Workers.

A 1969 graduate of Humboldt State College in Arcata, Calif., Brother Liles, the son of a career Air Force detective, earned his Masters of Business Administration from California Lutheran University in 1986.

Appointed International Representative and assigned to the Research Department in 1992, Liles specialized in international trade and testified in congressional hearings on NAFTA, performed union staff work on the President's Export Council and the Competitiveness Policy Council, and represented the union on the Citizens Trade Campaign. He worked on a wide variety of projects, from monitoring the growth of the renewable energy industry to helping develop the Helmets to Hardhats program and the union's museum, including guiding the museum display at the 2001 IBEW Convention.

In 1994, Liles was stricken with liver disease, suffering for 10 years before undergoing a successful living-donor transplant in 2004. After his ordeal, Liles says, "I have a deeper appreciation for life, and past worries now amuse me. I'm living on grace and it's great to be here." Brother Liles encourages everyone to sign up as an organ donor.

A voracious reader, Liles acknowledges the deep challenges facing IBEW and the labor movement, but sees signs of hope for positive change. "There is a growing understanding that predatory capitalism just isn't working," says Liles. "We need to refocus ourselves on union values and promote all of the gains that labor has made in our society to counter the messages of the corporate-dominated media."

A resident of rural western Fauquier County, Va., Brother Liles has actively promoted renewable energy projects and pushed for innovations by his local electric cooperative. After commuting more than two hours each way to work for four years, he looks forward to spending more time with his wife Mary and his son, Carl, who is in high school. He has a daughter, Lauren, and three stepchildren from an earlier marriage. Brother Liles has numerous home improvement jobs planned and will deepen research into his family's genealogy. He also intends to participate more in the Masons, where he is a past master of a D.C. lodge.

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Liles a long and healthy retirement.

Larry Liles

H. James Pelley

Eleventh District International Representative H. James Pelley retired April 1 after almost 40 years in the IBEW.

Raised in a union household in Nebraska, Pelley joined the U.S. Army at age 18. A trained paratrooper, he served on the front lines during the Vietnam War, from 1966 to 1968.

He started work as an apprentice in 1971, joining Lincoln Local 265. He was elected business manager in 1987. He served in the post until his appointment to the International staff 11 years later.

He spent the past decade servicing local unions and conducting steward and organizer training in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

"Organizing new members was always the best part of my job," he said. "Sitting down with working families and seeing that light bulb click on when they realize all the good the union can do for them. That made it really worthwhile."

In retirement, Pelley, who lives in Savannah, Mo., north of Kansas City, plans to spend his time hunting and fishing. He and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary in March. The couple has three children, including a son who is a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, and three grandchildren.

"I have great friends in the IBEW. They are good professional people," he said. "That's what I'm going to miss the most."

The officers and brothers of the IBEW wish Brother Pelley great health and much happiness in his retirement.

H. James Pelley