The Electrical Worker online
January 2013

S.C. Organizers Bring IBEW Message to
College Football Fans
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With nearly 30 years in the labor movement, Charlotte, N.C., Local 379 Organizer Nick Brown has soaked up enough history that he can vividly relay stories about anti-worker intimidation in his neck of the woods — from the bloody 1934 killings of mill workers in Honea Path, S.C., to the bruising days of the mass textile strikes that swept the region in the '20s and '30s.

"Knowing your history is all part of the job," he says.

But the veteran organizer's newest tactic to promote the IBEW may be one of the more forward-looking strategies in the Deep South. Early last year, Brown — who works out of the local's satellite office 100 miles away in Greenville, S.C. — led an effort to increase the IBEW's visibility during high-profile Clemson University home football games.

On a typical game afternoon, when as many as 80,000 fans pile into the¬†school's Memorial Stadium, attendees see a massive IBEW logo multiple times per game — at halftime and whenever an instant replay runs on the scoreboard — and the name "IBEW" is mentioned by announcers commenting on the plays. Fans tuning in to Greenville radio station WTPT-FM 93.3 also hear two radio advertisements per game publicizing the IBEW's excellence.

Brown says it ties in with a broader effort to promote positive contributions of members in the community — along with the opportunities that can await budding electricians who may be in the audience.

"Along with helping bring in new members, this invites contractors in the area to take another look at us," he said. "Our best marketing tool is to promote our customer satisfaction and job performance, and the stadium and radio ads are helping do just that."

And fans in the upstate region who tuned in Oct. 25 to an area radio station heard Brown discuss on air the benefits of the IBEW — which was broadcast to listeners ahead of Clemson's away game that day against Wake Forest.

"We're proud to be a partner with anyone we can join hands with in bettering our community here," Brown said.

The interview capped a weeklong contractor blitz which saw 13 IBEW activists hitting the road to visit 342 contractors in western South Carolina, northeast Georgia and parts of North Carolina. The three states rank in the very bottom of union density nationwide.

"The leadership at Local 379 has discovered that raising their own profile can only benefit them," said Matt Ruff, state organizing coordinator for South Carolina. "The scoreboard and radio ad ideas are fantastic. By putting themselves and their positive attributes out there, it's going to reap dividends for the local."

Look for more reporting on the local's contractor blitz in an upcoming issue of The Electrical Worker, and hear Brown's interview on www.ibew.org.


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On typical Clemson home football games, 80,000 fans see the Charlotte, N.C., Local 379 logo.