October/November 2011

Letters to the Editor
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God and Country, continued

I must respond to a previous letter to the editor from August 2011 entitled "Do Labor and Religion Mix?" To say that the Catholic Church is against workers, homosexuals and women would be false.

In May of the year 1891 (six months before the organization of the IBEW and two years before "The Electrical Worker" was first published) Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical, "Rerum Novarum," regarding the importance of workers' rights. In 1988, Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical addressing women's essential role in society.

While the church does not condone homosexual sexual relations, it teaches that we must recognize and respect the dignity of homosexual persons.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued an encyclical stating that the voices of workers must be heard and that labor unions are a strong solution to our failing economy. Not bad for some "fat old men in dresses."

J.J. Crow
Local 11 member, Los Angeles

Honoring Labor's Legacy

The Who We Are story in the recent issue of the Electric Worker ("77 Years after Bloody Mill Strike, Remembering the Slain," Sept. 2011) moved me to tears. God bless those brothers and sisters whose service of the slain workers memorial will help both honor those who made the greatest of sacrifice and keep their story from being forgotten. We must do as Brother Peterson so well states in his letter ("Are You With Us?") in the adjoining column: not let the "wedge issues" such as gun rights, abortion, etc. have us vote for those whose politics and polices are the most anti-life, anti-family, leaving a national landscape of broken families, communities, towns and cities.

John Andrechak
Local 44 member, Butte, Mont.

Four More Years

Organized labor's public displays of disgust with President Barack Obama are ill advised and premature. When he won the election in 2008, no one believed he could do all that was needed in only one term as president.

Because of the headwinds he faces with his policies and proposals, only 1½ more years is not enough time. Given the staunch opposition he faces in Congress, another term is an absolute necessity.

While it is true that unions have not realized the political, economic and regulatory gains that were promised during the 2008 campaign, to rebel, revolt and jump ship now is nothing but an impatient temper tantrum.

We need to continue to support Obama's presidency and his campaign for re-election for more reasons than you can imagine. How far do you think organized labor will get with President Rick Perry?

While unions may be rightfully upset at the lack of political respect given to us after the efforts we expended to get Obama elected, we must remember that the alternative is a nightmare from which we may never recover.

Reggie Marselus
Local 124 retiree, Kansas City, Mo.

A Grandson Remembers

My grandfather died a couple years ago and was one of the great men I knew; he led me to law school. James, or as his friends knew him, Tom, was proud to be two things above all else: First to be a free man in the brotherhood of Freemasons and second, to have been a member of the IBEW for nearly his entire life.

Just to share, the story he always told about the IBEW was working on the atomic bomb. The way he told it, he was called in to work on a private contract to do wiring for an ambiguous project. It wasn't until the debriefing that he discovered that his work had been military in nature. Following up years later, he discovered that his work had helped end the second World War. Being unable to serve due to a hernia, he was proud to have served his country through the electrical worker's union.

Jack Tomberlin, St. Louis
Grandson of James "Tom" Tomberlin

[IBEW Pension Department records show that James Tomberlin was born on Sept. 16, 1910 or 1911 (obligation card and beneficiary card show 1911, but pension records list birthdate as 1910). He was initiated into Charlotte, N.C., Local 379 in 1944 but transferred later to Diamond Bar, Calif. Local 47. Brother Tomberlin retired in 1975 and died on Oct. 31, 2006.]