October/November 2011

First District Act Wins with
Living Tribute to Brotherhood
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The 38th International Convention featured the much-anticipated IBEW Has Talent competition as part of pre-convention activities. Showcasing some of the union's best singers and musicians, 11 acts representing all IBEW districts lit up the Pacific National Exhibition stage Saturday, Sept. 17 in pursuit of top honors.

First District finalists Greg McFarlane and Rob James took home the grand prize with their song "IBEW Fights for Me." The soulful ballad is a salute to the sacrifices made by past generations of IBEW members. The song had delegates and other attendees on their feet, winning over the crowd, who determined the winners.

Judges selected three of the 11 acts to move on to the finals later in the day, when the grand prize winner was ranked by audience applause via a high-performance volume meter.

Second-place kudos went to the heavy melodic rock sounds of Joe Maraio and the Whyte Trash All-Stars, representing the Second District. The quartet, featuring Boston Local 103 journeyman wireman Michael Scapicchio on drums, performed an original song entitled "Angels of Envy."

"We were excited to enter the contest," Scapicchio said. "I love the union and getting to meet my fellow members from all over. Everybody here in Vancouver is unbelievable and it's a great time. The whole thing was a blast."

Fourth District finalists The Safety Boys took third place for their entry, "The Safety Rap."

Taking the stage in safety gear, Richmond, Va., Local 50 lineman Dennis McDade rapped about the importance of workplace safety, dropping lines about safety cones and hard hats. He was backed up by fellow Local 50 members Ashley Windsor and Norman Soaper.

McDade, who works for Dominion Power, says they were inspired to do the rap after sitting on a local safety committee. "We wanted a fun and humorous way to communicate the message about the importance of on-the-job safety," he said.

McDade put "The Safety Rap" video on YouTube two years ago, and it quickly became a viral hit, getting more than 200,000 hits.

Other contestants included:

Third District: Elmira, N.Y., Local 139 journeyman wireman Jeremy Horton has been an IBEW member for five years.

Fifth District: Clifford Zylks, a 34-year member, is an organizer and assistant business agent for Baton Rouge, La., Local 995. He was backed up by fellow Local 995 member Albert Mondt, a journeyman wireman.

Sixth District: West Frankfort, Ill., Local 702 member Gary Burt has 32 years in the trade, most recently as a welder repairman.

Seventh District: Oklahoma City, Okla., Local 1141 journeyman wireman Steven Gibson has been a member since 2006. He was accompanied by construction wireman Jimmy Stromberg, a fellow member of Local 1141.

Eighth District: Pocatello, Idaho, Local 449 president and organizer Mike Miera has been with the union since 1995. Also in his group was Boise Local 291 Business Manager Aaron White.

Ninth District: Anchorage, Alaska, Local 1547 member Cody Beltrami is a shop steward and the daughter of Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami, a former business representative at Local 1547.

Tenth District: Wilmington, N.C.'s David Gwinn of Local 495 is a
27-year member currently working as a superintendent. His performance included Huntington, W.Va., Local 317 journeyman wireman Mick Donovsky.

Eleventh District: St. Louis Local 1439 lineman David Pursley, a
19-year member, has been the safety representative in his garage for more than a decade.

IBEW has Talent

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Local 2085 member Rob James sings.

Boston Local 103 member Michael Scapicchio rocks out.

Richmond, Va., Local 50's Safety Boys rap and dance.

Delegates enjoyed "A Taste of British Columbia."

Fellowship reigned at the event at Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition.