August 2010

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John F. Briegel

Calgary, Alberta, Local 254 Business Manager John F. Briegel has been appointed to the International Executive Council for the Eighth District. He replaces Rick Dowling, who died suddenly on May 31.

A native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Brother Briegel was initiated into Local 254 in 1963, working as an inside wireman and serving the local as unit chairman and executive board member until he was hired as an assistant business manager in 1979. Appointed business manager in 1992, he has been continuously returned to the seat by the membership ever since.

Local 254 represents approximately 1,500 members, the majority of whom are in the utility branch. At Briegel’s initiation, most of the inside construction members moved under Edmonton Local 424’s jurisdiction in the 1990s, because much of the work was in the oil sands of northern Alberta. "We restructured and transferred the wiremen to Local 424," Briegel said.

Briegel, who was chairman of the Finance Committee during the 2006 IBEW Convention, is a certified human resources professional, a nationally recognized designation requiring ongoing work experience and study, which is helpful in negotiations with management, he said.

"Most of the people I deal with on the employer side have that certification, so it gives you that equality right off the bat," said Briegel, a member of the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

Briegel said while local unions on each side of the border have their own local issues, many of the issues, strategies and solutions remain the same. "President Hill has outlined three steps to success: promoting cooperative effort with employers—when they cooperate with us; membership development; and expanding the use of the Code of Excellence.

"It shows up as being a very valuable tool in the area of safety and looking at long term strategies versus the short-term balance sheet," he said.

A former secretary-treasurer of the Alberta Building and Construction Trades Council and one-time president of the Southern Alberta Building Trades Council, Briegel is also past secretary of the IBEW Alberta Council and member of the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board. He is also a member of the Electricity Sector Council Committee, a national utility industry body.

The IBEW officers, staff and membership wish Brother Briegel much success in his new position.

John F. Briegel

Herbert L. Prestidge

Fifth District International Representative Herbert Prestidge retired effective July 1.

A native of Texarkana, Texas, Brother Prestidge was initiated into Shreveport, La., Local 194 in 1971, where he worked as a journeyman wireman before serving that local as press secretary, JATC instructor, president, recording secretary and business manager-financial secretary. He was named outstanding apprentice in 1974.

Then-Fifth District Vice President Wade Gurley appointed him as an International Representative in 1993. Prestidge served under four district vice presidents, serving the longest under then-Vice President Mel Horton. "He taught me if you want to do something right, prepare, do your homework and know your audience," Prestidge said of Horton.

Prestidge serviced locals in all of the branches of the IBEW, across the district: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. He assisted local union leaders in negotiations, arbitrations and steward and safety trainings. "I found it amazing that we’ve got all of these different classifications and one constitution," Prestidge said. "One set of laws and policies and one common dream."

The part of his job he found the most gratifying was getting to know IBEW members at each level of the Brotherhood. "It was getting to talk to the members, one-on-one, and I didn’t mind them telling me their troubles," Prestidge said. "That’s how you learn what’s really going on."

Through the years, Prestidge attended labor-related courses at Louisiana State University, as well as labor law seminars and workers’ compensation courses.

Prestidge served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1970. He is a past member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a past board member of the Wesla Federal Credit Union. He is known for his vegetable garden and enjoyed sharing his own spicy salsa with friends, said Fifth District International Representative Mike Pace.

Brother Prestidge has three children, including a son, Tony, who is a wireman, and also a Shreveport 194 member. After spending years in Alabama, he and his wife, Carol, are planning a move back to the Shreveport area, where he expects to "catch a whole bunch of white perch" and teach his granddaughter to do the same.

The IBEW officers, staff and members whish Brother Prestidge a long, happy and healthy retirement.

Herbert L. Prestidge