May 2010

Letters to the Editor
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The Value of History

I have been reflecting on your article in the March issue of the Electrical Worker on "Filling the Holes in IBEW's History." I am attempting to fill in the holes of my union, Albuquerque, N.M., Local 611. I realized a couple of years ago that our local would be 100 years old in 2014, so I started collecting its history. I first searched through past minute books of the local for names, dates and events, but found that the minute books of the first 15 years of my local were missing or had been destroyed. Through public library research of city directories, I was amazed to find that my local has had 12 different addresses since 1914.

I collected pictures and correspondence from my local's archives and my own personal archives and encouraged Local 611 members to identify the hundreds of pictures collected. I advertised in our retiree newsletter and the Electrical Worker. I received a letter with pictures and a phone call from a retired member who had a picture of a Local 611 member who had attended the first IBEW electronics workshop in the 1940s. My other sources include personal interviews with retired members and books written by other union crafts, past local newspaper articles and even the History Channel Magazine. I have a report that is now almost 100 pages and I am not done yet. I felt it important to record anything that affects the local union, its members' working conditions and the impacts on their families' way of life.

I encourage all locals to start a history committee within your local. Every union member should know their local union roots. I can be reached at Local 611 or at by anyone who can share what they did for their local's anniversaries and any suggestions they can offer.

Tracy Hall
Local 611 retiree, Albuquerque, N.M.

Made Where?

It is wonderful that the IBEW has won grants to train young people to work on the wind farms.

My problem is why are the wind blades being manufactured in China? Why are our battleships being built in China? Our people need these jobs. Who signs the contracts to outsource our work? If I know I will not vote for that person.

Patricia Schneider
Local 2270 member, Wilmington, Del.

The Stimulus: Fact or Fiction?

Mr. Lee [in his March editorial, "Double-Talk on the Recovery Act"] unfortunately omitted a few significant details regarding the Recovery Act. First, the president assured us unemployment would remain under 8 percent with the passage of the bill. After its passage the rate soared to over 10 percent; it stands today at 9-plus percent.

The bill was sold to the public as a huge infrastructure undertaking to rebuild the nation's roads and bridges. In fact, most experts estimate only 12 to 15 percent of the funds were used for that purpose; the rest was dedicated to the Democrats' special interests, such as family planning, performing arts and growing more government.

Additionally, the bill had a $4.5 billion expenditure for "green energy projects." A full 80 percent of those funds went to China to build windmills, while an American company that builds them has people out on layoff. Those economists Mr. Lee cites will also tell you that the primary thing that saved the nation from another depression was the TARP program, which the president takes credit for, but which was passed and implemented by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

John A. Ciak
Local 94 retiree, Cranbury, N.J.


[Secretary-Treasurer Lee responds: Nearly every nonpartisan economic researcher is in agreement that the Recovery Act helped stem the tide of job loss—which was approaching Great Depression levels—by creating nearly 2 million jobs. More must be done, but it's a good start. The fact that the Republicans I mentioned in my column were eager to take advantage of stimulus funds to help their own constituents find work—while denouncing the legislation itself—proves the point. We have raised the issue of green stimulus funds being used to create work for overseas companies before and we have pushed Congress to institute "Buy America" provisions. But before arguing that the green portion of the stimulus has gone to waste, I would have Brother Ciak take another look at the March issue of the Electrical Worker. On the front page we discuss how the IBEW was awarded more than $20 million in stimulus funds—monies we are using to prepare our members for the renewable energy jobs of the future.]