December 2011

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Joe P. Smith

Oklahoma City Local 1141 Business Manager Joe P. Smith was elected Sixth District International Executive Council member in September at the 38th IBEW Convention in Vancouver.

"I'm very proud to serve the IBEW," says Smith, who said he is anxious to help devise and support different ways for the union to compete and gain more work in construction, while maintaining decent working conditions, wages and benefits. For the union as a whole and for the labor movement, Smith says, "We need to show the general population that unions and the IBEW share their values."

Brother Smith, who was initiated into Local 1141 in 1994, previously served as the local's political director and assistant business manager. He currently leads the Oklahoma Association of Electrical Workers and is a trustee of the state Building and Construction Trades. He also serves on the executive board of the state's AFL-CIO.

A U.S. Navy veteran of the first Gulf war, Smith is a third generation Local 1141 journeyman inside wireman. Says Smith, "My father and grandfather were both hard-working, loyal IBEW members."

Smith, who attended Rose State and Garden State Community colleges and was the Democratic Party's nominee for state Senate in 2002, enjoys golf, gardening and reading. He and his wife, Danielle, have three children.

On behalf of the entire membership and staff of the IBEW, the officers wish Brother Smith great success in his new position.



Joe P. Smith

Solomon Furer

Windsor, Ontario, Local 773 Business Manager Solomon Furer was elected Eighth District International Council member at the 38th International Convention in September.

A Windsor native, Furer was initiated into Local 773 in 1976. Active in the local, he served as press secretary, recording secretary and president before being elected business manager in 2001.

Furer is director of the National Electrical Trades Council, a partnership between the First District and the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association. A member of Ontario's Electrical Joint Conference Board, which governs labor-management relations in the electrical industry, he is also president of the Essex and Kent Building Trades Council.

Furer recently completed a term as vice president of the Construction Council of Ontario, representing inside locals throughout the province.

As business manager, he has been active in boosting the IBEW's efforts in the solar industry, setting up training in photovoltaics and helping to put hundreds of members to work on solar farms.

"I look forward to the new challenge of being on the IEC," Furer told delegates during his acceptance speech. "I pledge to all IBEW members in Canada and to the entire membership that I will give it my all every day."

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



Solomon Furer

Greg Teeple

Ninth District International Representative Gregory Teeple retired effective Oct. 1, bringing to a close a career marked by deep engagement in political advocacy and contributions to the development of public policy governing labor in Oregon.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, who, as a staff member of Portland Local 125, lobbied for the Oregon State Electrical Workers Association alongside Teeple, says, "Greg took me under his wing and showed me the ropes—and I could not have asked for a better mentor. His combination of smarts, sense of humor, and even temperament were the total package."

Shuler accompanied Teeple on a trade delegation to South Africa in 1996, where they met with President Nelson Mandela. She adds, "Greg never forgot where he came from, and always kept his humility about him. His love for the IBEW and his generous spirit have influenced many, many people, and I am proud to be counted among them."

In 1966, while in high school, Teeple worked as a shop hand and joined Portland Local 49. He entered the Air National Guard a year later. Upon completion of his active duty service, he joined the local union's journeyman inside wireman apprenticeship program.

"I knew that I would be involved in the union," says Teeple, the son of IBEW International Representative Herman Teeple Jr., who died in 2004, and the grandson of a business representative with the United Food and Commercial Workers. "My father taught me the meaning of commitment to the cause of organized labor," he says.

After transferring his membership into Portland Local 48 in 1968, Brother Teeple helped form the local's COPE committee in the mid-1970s.

As a lobbyist for the state's electrical workers association and building and construction trades, he developed a close friendship with the state's labor commissioner and gained recognition by three successive state governors who appointed him to the state's electrical board, Oregon's accident and industrial fund and the state legislature's labor/management advisory board.

In 1993, Teeple, who studied at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies, Portland State University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Management, visited Germany as part of a delegation to study vocational training.

He says, "I was impressed that 40 percent of German workers were in unions and that unions were commonly accepted." When issues came up on training policy, for instance, representatives of labor, academia and employers sat down and they had to agree before any changes could be implemented. German TV news channels took pains to ensure that the point of view of organized labor was thoroughly presented in covering worker issues. "It was nothing like the 30-second sound bites we hear at home on Fox News," he said.

In 1996 Teeple was asked to move to northern California to join the International staff as administrative assistant to Ninth District Vice President Jack McCann. After two years working in the district office, he asked Vice President Mike Mowrey, McCann's successor, to assign him as a field representative.

Teeple serviced five inside construction locals in the San Francisco Bay area and one manufacturing local. His time as a business manager and his more recent experience on staff, he says, gives him hope but he tempers it with a degree of concern over the union's future.

"When our market share dropped in my own local," he says, "we had to create programs to get most of our work back. That took acceptance from the membership." That happened, he said, because his members were on the financial cliff. "I hope that local unions with low market share see that it is their job to fix the problem—to fit into the economic system and sell their services," says Teeple.

Teeple looks forward to moving from California back to central Oregon, where he owns a cabin and enjoys fishing on nearby lakes. He also plans to travel. "I was asked where my favorite place is," he says. "My response is: it's anywhere I haven't been."

On behalf of the members and staff of the IBEW, the officers wish Brother Teeple a long, healthy and well-deserved retirement.



Greg Teeple

Walter 'Steve' Ray

Ninth District International Representative Walter "Steve" Ray retired effective Oct. 1, after more than four decades of service to the IBEW.

Brother Ray was initiated into Santa Barbara, Calif., Local 413 in 1969. After topping out in June of 1972, he worked as a journeyman wireman for Passmore Electric and other contractors in the area.

"My dad was a wireman, a lineman, a splicer and a welder with Local 413," Ray said. "I knew from him that there's always something new to learn in the trade."

Ray served on the local's JATC committee and then as an organizer beginning in 1988. Four years later, he was elected business manager, where he said his main achievement was to reorganize the local's jurisdiction.

"My goal was always to get our bargaining strength back," said Ray, who cited persistence and steady bottom-up organizing campaigns as antidotes to nonunion contractors' initial resistance.

Brother Ray was appointed International Representative in 1997 by International President J.J. Barry. His first task was to represent the IBEW in the pilot Building Trades Organizing Project in Las Vegas—a cooperative venture among the 15 construction unions to organize the city's market. Within two years, the effort brought about 7,000 tradesmen and women into the union movement at a time when Las Vegas was enjoying one of the largest construction booms in the nation.

Ray went on to service locals in central California, including Fresno Local 100, Castroville Local 234, Bakersfield Local 428 and San Luis Obispo Local 639. During that time, he oversaw organizing initiatives and negotiations while handling grievances. "I'm proud of the fact that our locals stood out in their efforts to promote good labor/management cooperation," Ray said.

Outside of the IBEW, Brother Ray served on the Santa Barbara Workforce Investment Board, a county-run program that connected area residents with job opportunities. He was a president of the building trades for Santa Barbara and San Louis Obispo counties for six years. Ray has been a member of the Elks Lodge 1538 in Santa Maria since 1990.

Brother Ray says he now looks forward to devoting time to home improvement projects, hunting, fishing and four-wheeling. He and his wife, Carol, have four children and three grandchildren. Ray's brother Beau and his nephew Jake are both members of Local 413.

"I feel very fortunate to be a member of a great union, and I appreciated my chance to be able to serve the Brotherhood in many ways," he said.

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Ray a happy, healthy and enjoyable retirement.



Lealand Jackson Jr.

We regret to report that retired Seventh District International Representative Lealand Jackson Jr. died Oct. 17 at the age of 79.

Born in Bracketville, Texas, Jackson served three years in the U.S. Army before being initiated into El Paso Local 583 in 1950.

He would serve as president and business manager before being appointed International Representative for the Seventh District in 1972.

Brother Jackson serviced inside locals throughout the Southwest. He also assisted both inside and professional and industrial locals in setting up organizing programs.

An active member of the Masonic Lodge, Brother Jackson enjoyed hunting and fishing. He retired in 1994.

Jackson is survived by three children, six grandchildren and one great grandson.

His children wrote in an obituary that their father "believed fully that what he did made a difference, which any co-worker or friend would agree."

On behalf of the members of the IBEW, the officers and staff send condolences to Brother Jackson's friends and family.

Lealand Jackson Jr.

Gordon Bray

We regret to report that retired Fourth District International Representative Gordon L. Bray died on Sept. 20.

A Kentucky native, Brother Bray was initiated into Evendale, Ohio, Local 1842, representing workers at AVCO Manufacturing, a defense electronics company, in 1956. Local 1842 was amalgamated with Hamilton, Ohio, Local 648 in 2008.

A Korean War Air Force veteran, Bray served as his local's business manager before being assigned to the Fourth District in 1964. During most of his career, he serviced manufacturing locals in Kentucky and Ohio.

Retired Fourth District Vice President Paul Witte worked closely with Bray as a fellow representative.

Says Witte, "Gordon lived, loved and worked his whole life for the IBEW." While Bray built a legend winning difficult cases in arbitration, says Witte, "whatever the cause or the issue, you could count on him to give you everything he had."

Bray, who retired in 2004, diligently led and participated in coordinating committees in the 1970s and 1980s representing workers at large, multi-plant employers. "He was determined to have some justice for workers and was often the last guy holding out before a deal was reached," says Witte.

On behalf of the entire membership of the IBEW, the officers and staff send our condolences to Brother Bray's family.

Gordon Bray