The Electrical Worker online
July 2012

Letters to the Editor
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Thanks for the Assist

I would like to personally thank Business Manager Timothy Frew, his staff and all of the members of Tangent, Ore., Local 280 who assisted our local in manning our shutdown call on April 9 at the Georgia Pacific paper mill on Toledo, Ore.

A few months ago, EC Company was awarded a major shutdown project at GP Toledo. EC notified us that they would need about 100 electricians for 10 days. We ended up needing 130 electricians for four days. Two weeks before the start of the shutdown, we realized we would be about 100 people short.

Brother Frew went above and beyond expectations in assistance to not only help man our calls but to get any and all willing Local 280 members to work on this project.

Thank you, brothers and sisters. You make me proud to be IBEW.

Robert Westerman
Local 932 business manager, Coos Bay, Ore.

Party of the 1 Percent?

We are about to elect a president of the U.S.A., or as I would hope, re-elect our present president.

In the past, many of our brothers and sisters felt that it would be better to elect a Republican rather than a Democrat. I hope any who are leaning in that direction will look at the record of the GOP in the last four years. They have held up or voted against legislation that would help the middle class or help make good jobs for Americans and they have openly stated their desires to eliminate union jobs and break our unions. They have made clear that it is their intent to eliminate health care and Medicare as we now know it. Our contracts provide good medical coverage while we are working, but when we retire our primary coverage comes from Medicare. Our union benefits in most cases become our secondary coverage. As an 82-year-old retiree, I am very thankful to have Medicare as my primary coverage.

I am also aware of the fact that Medicare needs to be worked on, to guarantee it will be available to all in the future. This is doable if the GOP would work for the middle class and the poor rather than the 1 percent who don't need any help. Look at the records of the bills offered by the GOP. They all favor the rich and take away from the working class. If it is your desire to take away our workers' rights and lose our middle-class status and make the rich richer, then support the GOP. But if you are happy to have a union that makes your life better and fights to save your benefits and give you the right to a days' pay for a days' work, then vote for Democrats for president and Congress.

Robert E. Fritz
Local 35 retiree, Hartford, Conn.

Calling All Republicans

1968 was a year of incredible upheaval. In April, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In June, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. By the time Chicago hosted the Democratic Convention in August there were riots in the streets. In the middle of this chaos, 27-year-old Rev. Jesse Jackson appealed to his brothers to present a united front to the political parties. He had the clarity to see that one side took the Black Caucus for granted and the other side wrote it off as unimportant. What resulted from this was little or no voice at all.

Coretta King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was in the front row seat of every Republican convention until her death in 2006. The Black Caucus has maintained a strong voice on both sides of the aisle to this day.

Labor, on the other hand, hasn't moved. One side takes us for granted and the other side writes us off. Our voice keeps getting smaller and smaller every day. We have a two-party system and we need to learn how to use it like others have to insure that our issues have a voice.

Our problem seems to be that our Republican members are reluctant to get involved. Depending on what part of the country we are talking about, anywhere from 12-40 percent of dues-paying members are Republican. That is more than enough to insure a voice to labor issues. Labor leaders need to seek out their Republican members and get these people involved in labor issues (like right-to-work) and fight this whole assault from a different angle.

In 1968, I was 22 years old and unions had a large market share. The NLRB was still intact. Things have changed. I am 65 years old and unions have lost their edge on market share. The NLRB has been chipped away until it's a shadow of what it was. If we want to leave a legacy of failure and collapse we are well on our way. We must change how we do our political business if we are to survive. Because one side takes us for granted and the other writes us off.

Dan Atkinson
Local 68 Republican Labor chairman, Denver