October/November 2011

On All Amendments to the IBEW Constitution and Resolutions at the 38th International Convention
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Action on Law Committee Report

Delegates to the 38th IBEW Convention began their review of the Report of the Law Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Action on the Law Committee Report continued on Thursday, Sept. 22 and was concluded Friday, Sept. 23. The Law Committee Report was presented by Chairman John O'Rourke of San Francisco Local 6 and Secretary Ross Galbraith of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Local 37.

At the 2006 convention in Cleveland, a decision was made prohibiting apprentices from serving as local union officers in most cases. A proposal was put forth by the International Officers to amend Article XVI, Section 11 to state that an apprentice shall also not serve as an election judge or teller. Advocating the need for experience and accumulated knowledge in decision making, the committee concurred with the officers' proposal.

This prompted spirited debate from the floor. Leonard Rousseau of Victoria, B.C., Local 230 agreed with the committee's recommendation, saying that the key responsibility of all apprentices was to become "the finest, most well-trained electricians they can be," and that serving as election assistants could divert progress toward this goal.

Helena, Mont., Local 233 Business Manager Keith Allen suggested a compromise: allow members of any classification in good standing for at least two years to serve. Salvador Ventura of San Jose, Calif., Local 332 rose in support, saying, "When our members are sworn in, to exclude them is not fair." Additional discussion ensued, and the amended resolution to allow members with two years of service who are in good standing to assist in elections passed by a close voice vote.

A proposal put forth would amend Article XVIII, Section 5 concerning local union expenditures and purchases. Currently, the International President provides guidelines and frameworks regarding local unions' spending. A motion was made to allow for expenses under $5,000 to be approved more quickly and efficiently by an International Vice President, providing that any expenses above that figure be approved by the International President.

The committee, however, voted for nonconcurrence with the International Officers' proposal, stating that the resolution is cumbersome and restrictive on local unions' efforts to conduct business in a timely manner.

Vinny McElroen of New York Local 3 rose in support of the committee's recommendation. He said that while he appreciated the intent of the leadership to ensure financial integrity, "this resolution could overburden our ability to fight for our 29,000 members," as unfair litigation costs periodically threaten to eat into the local's funds. The delegation agreed with the committee's nonconcurrence.

A proposal was recommended to revise Article II, Section 10 of the constitution regarding replacement of an elected delegate who resigns or is otherwise unable to attend the International Convention. Delegates voted to amend the constitution to provide for a democratic method of filling vacant slots.

Article II, Section 13 states that the International President shall nominate and the International Convention shall elect two delegates to conventions of the AFL-CIO, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Building and Construction Trades and the Metal Trades departments of the AFL-CIO. One delegate will attend conferences of the Union Label and Service Trades and the Maritime Trades, AFL-CIO, departments. A proposal was made to ensure that each such delegate shall be a business manager of their local—though if that status changes, the member must resign and the International President shall appoint a replacement delegate. The delegation moved to carry the proposal with no dissenting discussion.

At prior conventions, elections of International Vice Presidents or International Executive Council members have taken place through the votes of a majority of local unions at the convention. However, not all of the locals present necessarily vote, such as when the delegates are deadlocked on a decision. Delegates amended Article III, Section 3 of the constitution to ensure that the vote of each district must be decided by a majority of locals at the convention—which must be present and voting at the time of election. If the district is unable to determine its choice, a roll-call vote will be taken.

Formerly, when there were more than two candidates for the same office of IVP or IEC, voting would continue until one candidate received a majority overall vote count. Delegates further amended Article III, Section 3 to allow for a single runoff election between the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes.

A proposal was introduced to revise Article III, Section 8 to increase pension payments to retired officers, representatives and assistants. The committee, citing actuarial data, concluded that the proposal was cost prohibitive and moved for nonconcurrence. Delegates agreed, citing tough financial times and the need to act prudently when increasing compensation for members.

As retired members are currently allowed to have a voice at local meetings but are not allowed to vote, an amendment to Article XI, Section 6(d) was proposed to revise the "prohibition of work" language in the constitution. The committee agreed that a retiree making a bona fide return to the trade should be allowed to vote only after 120 days back on the job to ensure integrity of elections. The amendment passed with voice vote.

As there has been some confusion about members holding management positions in companies they work for, the International Officers recommended changes to Article XV, Section 5 and Article XXIV, Section 1. The officers proposed that no local should allow any member who becomes an employer, partner, or manager of an electrical business to hold local office, attend meetings or vote in elections. The resolution further recommended that such members apply for a participating withdrawal card. The committee concurred with the amendment, highlighting the need for clarification in such situations. Delegates proposed, debated and then voted down two additional amendments before passing the original amendment.

International Officers proposed a change to Article XV, Section 6 stating that no local shall enforce any bylaws, amendments or rules without the expressed approval of the International President. The officers recommend that bylaw amendments be forwarded to district International Vice Presidents, who will then forward them to the International President with any recommendations. The amendment now requires that the number of copies submitted shall be determined by the International President, instead of the previous requirement of multiple paper copies. The committee concurred, recognizing that additional assistance to local unions drafting potential bylaws is beneficial. Delegates passed the measure.

International Officers proposed an amendment to Article XVI, Section 1 to clarify that examining board members are not operating officers of the local union. The committee concurred, stating that the responsibilities of examining board officers differ from those of certain operational officers—such as business managers, financial secretaries, etc. This passed with no discussion.

A proposed amendment to Article XVI, Section 16 would require that vacancies in any local union office shall be filled by the local union executive board until the next regular election. The intent of the amendment was to treat any vacancies on the examining board in the same fashion as that of any other vacancy in the local. Delegates agreed with the committee's concurrence.

International Officers proposed changes to Article XVII, Section 1(f) regarding local union independent audit procedures. The proposed amendment would either allow for the local to appoint an auditing committee of three members or employ a public accountant to reconcile the local's finances every three months. In addition, the amendment would mandate the local union to employ a certified public accountant to perform internal audits in accordance with generally accepted standards annually, or if financially unable, to request a waiver from the International Secretary-Treasurer. The proposal was discussed and passed by the convention.

A motion was made to amend Article XX, Section 1 to ensure that no local union can admit an applicant for membership if he or she is already a member of another local. The only exception to this rule is if a member is a traveler, operating under the provisions of Article XXIII. The committee concurred, agreeing that no person shall be a member of more than one local at the same time.

A new section to the constitution (Article XXI, New Section 5) and a revision to Article XXV, Section 13 were proposed to clarify the good-standing status of members appealing trial board assessments. The proposals recommend that members making required monthly payments on an assessment may remain in good standing while protesting their assessment. The committee concurred, adding that it was never the intent to cause a member to lose his or her good standing status while appealing the decision of a trial board. The delegation passed the amendment with no discussion.

A proposal to Article XXV, Section 8 states that since stewards are not local union officers, clarification is needed regarding the filing of charges against them. International Officers proposed a systematic procedure for filing charges through the district International Vice Presidents. The committee agreed with the proposal. An amended resolution passed the delegation by voice vote.

Representatives of Hamilton, Ontario, Local 105 submitted an amendment to Article XI, Section 1(a) that would increase pension benefit payments from the current level of $4.50 per month to $6 per month for each year of continuous "A" membership. The committee moved for nonconcurrence, based on actuarial data, stating that the proposed amendment would jeopardize future PBF obligations. The delegation upheld the committee's decision.

A proposal was put forth to clarify Article XII, Section 10 regarding military service cards. The resolution stated that any member voluntarily remaining in or re-entering national service shall not be entitled to the military service card. However, members in the National Guard or reserves may retain the card benefit if they are called to active duty. Recognizing the great sacrifices made by military personnel, the committee concurred. After discussion and clarification, delegates approved the resolution.

Since the last convention, several parties making trial board charges have attempted to appeal the board's rulings. Amendments to Article XXV, Sections 12 and 17 clarify the constitution to ensure that only parties being penalized or disciplined may make appeals through the International Vice President. The committee concurred, stating that it was never intended that anyone other than a member penalized or disciplined by a local union trial board could appeal. The delegation passed the amendment with no discussion.

As the IBEW Journal ceased publication in 2009, a resolution was proposed to substitute the words "monthly publication" in place of all references to "Journal" in the IBEW Constitution. The committee concurred, and delegates voted for the amendment.

A proposal was made stating that the task of making particular reviews and recommendations to the IBEW's structure and constitution can be too time consuming and cumbersome to be addressed exclusively at International Conventions. Leaders of Detroit 58 proposed to amend Article XXVII, Section 1 regarding the Select Committee on the Future of the Brotherhood. However, the Law Committee stated that the existing efforts of the original Select Committee, established in 1998, did not need alteration. Furthermore, expenditures for another committee to convene would be cost prohibitive, so the Law Committee nonconcurred. Sponsors of the resolution then withdrew their support of the proposal, and the delegation agreed with the committee's nonconcurrence.

A final amendment regarding pension department death benefit payments was submitted by leaders of St. Paul, Minn., Local 23. The proposal to revise Article XI, Section 4(a) called for raising the minimum death payment amount of $3,000 to $6,250. Citing actuarial studies, the committee nonconcurred, and delegates assented with the committee.

The Law Committee adjourned in the afternoon on Friday, Sept 23, concluding the discussion on amendments to the IBEW Constitution at the 38th International Convention.

Delegate Action on Resolutions

Delegates began their work Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, on the report of the Resolutions Committee. The committee was chaired by Boston Local 104 Business Manager Tiler F. Eaton and Bloomington, Ind., Local 2249 Business Manager Carven B. Thomas served as secretary.

After discussion by delegates, the following actions were taken:

Resolution No. 1. A large proportion of IBEW members are military veterans. The union has long promoted programs like Helmets to Hardhats and Veterans in Construction Electrical to help returning veterans avoid the plague of joblessness facing so many of their fellow service members. The 38th IBEW Convention honors and reaffirms its commitment to veterans.

Resolution No. 2. The IBEW supports the Federal Communications Commission's "open Internet" principles to provide unlimited information on the Internet to all Americans and Canadians.

Resolution No. 3. The IBEW encourages members to utilize unionized providers of digital television and will post a list of those providers on www.ibew.org.

Resolution No. 4. The IBEW supports the deployment of high-speed Internet service to all unserved and underserved areas in the United States and Canada.

Resolution No. 5. The IBEW calls upon members to spread awareness about the effect of theft or piracy of copyrighted films and television shows on union members in the broadcasting, television and motion picture industries.

Resolution No. 6. The IBEW calls upon local unions to continue to adopt, apply, and provide the necessary training to uphold the Code of Excellence program to stimulate job expansion and build membership participation in local unions.

Resolution No. 7. The IBEW supports the continued education of the union membership on the importance of supporting American and Canadian union-made products.

Resolution No. 8. The IBEW recommends that all local unions affiliate with and participate in the IBEW Safety Caucus, which meets twice a year in conjunction with the National Safety Council Labor Division meetings.

Resolution No. 9. The IBEW recommends that all local unions take advantage of Project Tracker tools to secure the employment of union members in the construction industry.

Resolution No. 10. The IBEW recommends the expansion of the tools of Hour Power to all branches of the union.

Resolution No. 11. The IBEW urges local unions to participate in and form a partnership with the Union Sportsmen's Alliance.

Resolution No. 12. The IBEW and all local unions should promote and communicate the values of the organization. Local unions and the International must expand the use of every tool to communicate the union's message to current and future members, customers and surrounding communities.

Resolution No. 13. The IBEW reaffirms its support for diversity and full inclusion that was supported in a resolution at the 37th International Convention. The organization recognizes the hard work and dedication of the International Officers, the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, the IBEW Committee on Diversity and Full Inclusion and the staff since the last convention.

Resolution No. 16. The IBEW reaffirms the need to organize and believes that having a permanent international database (OARS) will provide great value to that effort.

Resolution No. 17. The committee recognizes the important need for energy independence as well as the tremendous opportunity for job growth in the nuclear industry.

Resolution No. 20. The IBEW will stay strong against any effort to eliminate or decrease the minimum wage.

Resolution No. 21. The IBEW will support the International President to create a fund for the use of public relations to further business development initiatives.

Resolution No. 23. The IBEW stands opposed to the privatization of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Experience in Europe shows that privatization would be disastrous both in cost and in service to the public.

Resolution No. 24. The convention urges all local unions and their union employers to review and consider adopting and joining the IBEW/NECA Family Medical Care Plan to benefit all IBEW members and the electrical industry as a whole.

Speaking from the floor in favor of the resolution, Billy McDaniel, business manager of Kansas City, Mo., Local 412, trustee of one of three utility plans that are part of the FMCP, called attention to the drastically increasing out-of-pocket expenses facing workers across the nation. The FMCP, says McDaniel, is improving customer service and will be even stronger with more participating local unions.

Resolution No. 25. The convention urges all local unions, their officers and staff to promote and educate IBEW members and employees about participation in the National Electrical 401(k) plans.

Resolution No. 26. The convention calls upon the IBEW International Office to provide local unions with information and training regarding the various kinds of pension plans and retirement savings programs to assist in negotiations.

Resolution No. 27. The convention supports the continuing partnership between the IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Resolution No. 28. The Resolutions Committee combined Resolution No. 28 (Funding of Political Action) and Resolution No. 58 (Political Action Committees). The Resolutions Committee recommended that local unions be strongly discouraged from operating their own political action funds, saying that having one IBEW PAC shows the determination, strength and commitment of the members of our Brotherhood to friends and foes alike.

The original resolution was amended to endorse the establishment of a political action committee covering IBEW locals in Canada.

After a question from the floor from A. Michelle Laurie, president of Vancouver Local 258, concerning the different laws governing campaign contributions on either side of the border, President Hill clarified that any fund established in Canada will employ counsel to ensure that the fund is in compliance with Canadian law.

Resolution No. 29. The IBEW and local unions will educate members about the benefits offered by the IBEW Pension Benefit Fund to encourage "BA" members to become "A" members.

Resolution No. 30. The IBEW calls upon leadership on every level to continue to participate in discussions to unite the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and the National Education Association to help create a unified labor movement to better advance the interests of all working families.

Resolution No. 31. The IBEW goes on record opposing an obscure corporate tax break known as a "Reverse Morris Trust." The loophole has been utilized by companies, including publicly regulated utilities, to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes while having adverse consequences for consumers, workers, and the federal treasury.

Resolution No. 32. The convention calls upon all local unions with construction and maintenance jurisdiction to post and update the Construction Jobs Board on the first and third Monday of each month to include all current and upcoming information for each classification of construction members.

Resolution No. 33. The IBEW will continue to fight for legislation that will reverse the economic polarization in the U.S. and Canada and resist the growing right-wing movements in Canada and the U.S.

Resolution No. 34. The IBEW is a strong ally of the March of Dimes. Members and employees have helped raise nearly $250,000 for the organization since the 2006 International Convention. The convention resolved to strengthen and support these efforts in the future.

Resolution No. 35. The resolution called for parity among locals for all Book II re-sign procedures to ease the travel and bookkeeping requirements for members traveling to other jurisdictions for work.

The Resolutions Committee recommended nonconcurrence based on what they said was the impossibility of devising a system of complete parity in locals' re-sign procedures.

Speaking in opposition to the committee's recommendation, Detroit Local 58 delegate Susan McCormick said that while she acknowledged that it may be impossible to devise a system of complete parity, "by standardizing the day of the month in which re-signs are required, it will lessen the burden on both office staff and members. "

The motion of nonconcurrence failed and after floor debate, the original motion carried. The convention, thus, votes to set up a system of parity in re-sign procedures.

Resolution No. 37. The IBEW supports its railroad members working for America's freight railroads who have been working without a contract since January 1, 2010, and calls on management to fairly negotiate a contract that is equitable for all employees.

Resolution No. 38. The Resolutions Committee combined Resolution 38 (Business Development) and Resolution No. 59 (Business Development and Strategic Investments). The IBEW will adopt a national business development team to aggressively seek and secure work for all IBEW members by building strategic partnerships and engaging in customer outreach.

Resolution No. 39. The IBEW recommends that in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Brotherhood, the 39th International Convention be held in the city of St. Louis—site of the first convention of what became the IBEW.

Resolution No. 40. The IBEW calls on all locals to educate and engage their members on the issues and candidates to further the union's grassroots political action program.

Resolution No. 41. The IBEW recommends that all locals affiliate with the Labor Division of the National Safety Council.

Resolution No. 42. The IBEW supports public sector workers whose benefits and collective bargaining rights are under attack.

Referring to the massive protests against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, Madison, Wis., Local 159 Business Manager Mark Hoffmann said from the floor:

"I want to thank you, President Hill, for answering the call to stand with us in Wisconsin."

Resolution No. 45. The IBEW strongly encourages the United States federal government to fully fund the National Passenger Railroad Corp., Amtrak.

Resolution No. 46. The IBEW endorses President Obama's efforts to promote high-speed rail service.

Resolution No. 47. The IBEW supports the siting, construction, and operation of environmentally sound, coal-fired electric generation facilities to create and sustain good IBEW jobs.

A delegate from Salt Lake City Local 57 proposed an amendment adding the following language to the resolution stating "the IBEW will lead and support legislation and efforts that will require all nations to comply with greenhouse gas and other clean air regulations related to global climate change."

International President Hill stated that the amendment was unnecessary, as the IBEW has been out front on key legislative issues related to climate change. The amendment was defeated.

Resolution No. 48. The IBEW supports the changes made to U.S. National Mediation Board representation election procedures that give transportation workers the same rights as other private sector employees and opposes any efforts by Congress or the NMB to reverse those changes.

Resolution No. 49. The IBEW reaffirms its support for the National Utility Training Trust.

Resolution No. 51. IBEW opposes the outsourcing of American jobs.

Resolution No. 52. The IBEW supports the maintenance of the U.S. domestic shipbuilding industry.

Resolution No. 53. The IBEW will continue to fight to save the Avondale Shipyard from closure, participating in the Save Our Shipyard campaign.

Resolution No. 54. The IBEW opposes U.S. federal and state cuts to mass transit service.

Resolution No. 55. The IBEW International Office is authorized to investigate the feasibility of sponsoring an organization of associate members—workers who would not have full rights of regular members but would be given the opportunity to learn about the union and build identification with it to help organizing efforts.

Resolution No. 56. The IBEW supports the development of short haul container transport on inner coastal highways and the Mississippi River.

Resolution No. 60. The IBEW endorses single payer universal health care legislation.

Resolution No. 64. The IBEW reiterates its support for the National Training Institute.

Resolution No. 65. The IBEW urges all local unions and their employers to investigate and consider whether investing in INDURE would be appropriate action for local IBEW-NECA pension funds. (INDURE is a commingled real estate fund managed by the National Real Estate Advisors (National), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NEBF.


The Resolutions Committee recommended nonconcurrance with the following resolutions:

Resolution No. 18. The original resolution called for inclusion of language in the new Inside Jurisdiction Category 1 safety language related to the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the workplace. The language concerned de-energizing equipment.

The Resolutions Committee recommended nonconcurrance based on the advice of the IBEW General Counsel's office. Delegates supported the committee's recommendation.

Resolution No. 44. The proposed resolution called on the IBEW International Office to establish a system for an IBEW-wide Book II to allow out-of-work members to sign Book II at their home local.

The Resolutions Committee said it recognizes the hardships faced by many unemployed members of the construction branch, but creating an IBEW-wide Book II would precipitate a series of impossible administrative and logistical problems for the IBEW and local unions.

The convention upheld the recommendation of nonconcurrance.

Resolution No. 62. The original resolution moved that Everett, Wash., Local 191 establish a Rights Awareness Program that would create a collective database of federal, state and union rules and regulations to ease difficulties with education and enforcement.

In its recommendation of nonconcurrance, the Resolutions Committee reaffirmed its commitment to labor education but said it did not believe it was necessary for convention actions.

Local 191 delegate Joe Peters offered two friendly amendments. The first would remove reference to the Code of Excellence and the National Referral Guidelines from one reference in the third paragraph. The second would delete the reference to Local 191 member Charlotte Hathaway. Both motions failed.


Resolution No. 15. The IBEW reaffirms that organizing is the lifeblood of the union and is the first objective listed in the IBEW Constitution.

The resolution's statement that "organizing continues to be the highest priority of the IBEW International officers, local union officers, and the entire membership" was unanimously amended by the delegation to state: "organizing continues to be among the highest priorities of the IBEW."

Resolution No. 22. The original resolution called upon the IBEW to use every means at its disposal to fight for the preservation of the prevailing wage at the federal, state and local levels.

The resolution was amended by the delegation to advocate the monitoring of any effort to reduce enforcement of Davis-Bacon provisions using land lease exceptions.

Resolution No. 36. A resolution submitted by International President Hill and Sam Chilia said the IBEW recognizes the important contributions immigrants have made to the United States, but stemming the tide of those entering the United States illegally must be a priority for federal officials. The organization is also on record as rejecting any guest worker program and for establishing strong labor and wage protections for foreign workers here on a visa.

The resolution's reference to E-verify—an online program used to check an employee's legal status—became a topic of debate. In support of a failed amendment to delete all references to E-verify, Victor Uno, business manager, Dublin, Calif., Local 595 said: "Many delegates here do not know what an E-verify program is. I cannot support a resolution that calls for a program that we do not use in the local."

An amendment offered by Anchorage Local 1547 delegate Chris Tuck proposed to add the words "that must contain safeguards against false positives and at the same time protecting the privacy of all workers" to the resolution's statement supporting "a worker verification program such as E-verify" was passed.

Resolution No. 43. The original resolution recommended that the International Office include new Inside Jurisdiction Category I safety language related to voltage test instruments.

The Resolutions Committee recommended nonconcurrance based on the advice of the IBEW General Counsel's office. It is the position of the IBEW and the building trades unions that all legal responsibility must rest with the employer alone.

San Francisco Local 6 delegate Gerald McDermott proposed an amendment to add the following language to the end of resolution: "It is the employer's exclusive responsibility to insure the safety of its employees and their compliance with these safety rules and standards." The amendment was passed by the convention.

Law Committee Report Chairman John O'Rourke

Delegates considered amendments and resolutions.

A delegate addresses the convention.

Delegates share and listen during the committee report sessions.

Law Committee Secretary Ross Galbraith

Toronto, Ontario, Local 353 delegate Jeffrey Irons

Resolutions Committee Secretary Carven B. Thomas, left, and Chairman Tiler Eaton present the committee report.