The Electrical Worker online
December 2012

From the Officers
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Our First Job

The elections this year were important for us, as a union and as a country, and it is our job to be an unstoppable advocate for the rights and dignity of working men and women. Yet, as we went to the polls, we were reminded that our first, our most important job, is to get home at the end of the day.

Hurricane Sandy laid waste to hundreds of miles of the East Coast. Thousands of homes were washed away or burned to the ground. Lights went out. Phones went dead. Trains stopped running. More than a 100 people died during the storm. As I write this, at least half a million people are still in the dark and the cold.

We don't have an exact figure on how many members of the IBEW dropped everything and went to work while the flood waters receded, but we know it's substantial. We don't know how many thousands of miles they drove or how many poles they stood up or how many miles of wire they hung.

But because of the hard, dirty, dangerous and often hidden work of the men and women of the IBEW, we do know that millions of people can light their homes, get to work and begin rebuilding their lives.

Tragically we also know that at least one of our brothers won't be going home. Mike Leach, a veteran lineman from Sarnia, Ontario, died on the job, cleaning up the wreckage left in Sandy's wake.

When we held our 38th IBEW Convention last year in Vancouver, our slogan was Brotherhood Beyond Borders. This is not a slogan, it's a creed we live by, and I know all of our hearts are with Mike's family. I urge you to read more about Mike, and another, severely injured member.

There will be other times to talk about the great strides we've made to make our jobs safer and other times to talk about what is left to be done. Today I have a simpler and sadder message. Be careful out there. Take care of each other, and remember your first job is always, always to get home safe.


Also: Hill: Let's Get to Work Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer