June 2010

Letters to the Editor
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Solidarity or Demise?

Don't let it be forgot
That once there was an organization
For one brief shining moment
That was known as the IBEW

It is this writer's opinion that our once-proud union is dead; oh, maybe not for another 15 years, but unless realities change, it's dead. The only chance we have is if we can get our membership to band together for the good of the IBEW. Instead, what we have now is linemen who don't trust wiremen, the wiremen downgrade other classifications, et cetera.

Meanwhile, the part of the membership that goes to work paying the local's bills and making the customer happy take our union for granted. They don't participate in elections or the actions of their local.

Quite a few local union business managers and officers are elected by the protectionist faction of the membership, often with no experience in management, just because they are of the same ilk. They take these guys off the street and expect them to run a multi-million dollar business. The task is so daunting and the staff so inexperienced, nothing gets accomplished.

Tim Nichol
Local 280 member, Salem, Ore.

Apple for the Teacher

I'm a first-year apprentice with Reading, Pa., Local 743. I never thought in a million years I'd see myself getting the opportunity to say I'm a union electrical apprentice. Now I am proud to tell people. Maybe those who want to learn will succeed, but what's a classroom education without a great teacher?

It is a privilege to learn from the finest in our trade, our first-year apprentice teacher, David Singer. He has gone out of his way to make sure his students know what they need to know and teach them more than what is probably required by the NJATC. He is there three hours early before class setting up for lessons. He built working models of electrical simulations by hand just so his students can see how it works rather then trying to explain it.

Dave taught us the importance of financial responsibility, what it means to save money and how to use it during those rough patches we go through. I once got a peek at all of Dave's certifications in his binder. And when he told me he was an average Joe like me in high school, it only pushed me to study harder. I only hope my next four years with my new teachers will be similar to my first year.
Thank you IBEW, NECA, and NJATC!

Tyler Runge
Local 743 member, Reading, Pa.

The Union Advantage

My father is a union man, as well as his father, and his father's father before him, and the opportunities supplied by their unions have given me the chance to be the first Brock to attend and finish at a four-year university and go on to pursue a career in law, defending those who don't have the means to defend themselves. My father has taught me to be humble and to never do anything halfway. He instilled in me a desire to help those who I can. My mother, through the law firm in which she works as a paralegal, has tirelessly worked on behalf of unfairly treated employees, including IBT and IBEW members. I listened to her description of the cases her office was working on and was disgusted by the unlawful actions taken by some employers against their own employees, the very people whose efforts keep the wheels of progress turning and brought profit to the businesses.

Unions have had a profound impact on my life; unions have ensured my grandfather and father fair and reasonable wages, decent hours, and above all, stability and safety in a sometimes uncertain world. I will take all that unions have done for me to heart in my career and I will remain eternally grateful for the opportunity they have given me. The protection of the American ideal of a fair wage for an honest day's work in order to make something of oneself is one of the pillars of our society and I would be nothing if unions hadn't given my father and grandfather the chance to do just that.

Cole Brock
Grandson of Local 606 retiree Floyd Brock, Orlando, Fla.