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January 2013

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Larry Neidig Jr.

Following a career that spanned more than four decades in the Brotherhood, Larry Neidig Jr., Senior Executive Assistant to the International President and the International Secretary-Treasurer, retired effective Dec. 31.

Initiated into Williamsport, Pa., Local 812 in 1969, Brother Neidig served as president of the local from 1976 to 1982, and as business manager and financial secretary from 1985 to 1992.

Having started in the nonunion sector making $1.65 an hour, Neidig said a discussion with an organizer from Local 812 helped steer him toward the IBEW.

"I saw an opportunity there," he said. "I was working with a small company where a number of employees were going to the union side. They were making better wages than I was in a shorter period of time." Six months after joining the local, Neidig saw his wages increase without having to rely on the good graces of a nonunion employer — one of the selling points of the IBEW, he said. "With that contract, you're locked in. It's better for you and your family."

Neidig was appointed International Representative for the Third District in 1992. International President Edwin D. Hill tapped Neidig to become his Senior Executive Assistant in April 2001. He became the first person in that position to concurrently assist the International Secretary-Treasurer as well.

"My greatest accomplishment was working with President Hill and being a part of such an outstanding team," Neidig said. "I feel proud to have had input on a number of successful policies," such as membership development initiatives and implementing the Code of Excellence for various trade classifications, he said.

When Neidig came to Washington, the nation was still reeling from the post-dot-com recession. Today, with the economy still slowly coming back from the more recent downturn, he says one of the best things the IBEW can do to move forward is continue putting excellence and skill front and center.

"We need to be pushing harder, and we need to be more open minded of what the companies, utilities and construction contractors need — as well as what we need as an organization," he said. "I would also like to see people become even more involved in their local unions. We have to realize that everything is not just handed to us."

A native of Williamsport, Neidig graduated from Williamsport High School and took classes related to the electrical trade at the city's community college before beginning his apprenticeship with Local 812. He went on to serve as the president of the Lycoming County Labor Council, the vice president of the Central Pennsylvania Building Trades and was president and secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Managers Association.

Brother Neidig says he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Sally, his four children and 12 grandchildren. He also plans to travel and continue building a woodworking shop in his garage.

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Neidig a long and healthy retirement.


Larry Neidig Jr.

Brian Baker

Political/ Legislative Department Director Brian Baker has been appointed Special Executive Assistant to the International Officers effective Jan 1. He succeeds Larry Neidig, who retired.

"Larry has left the IBEW a legacy of positive change and I look forward to doing my part to keep the Brotherhood moving forward," says Baker.

Born and raised in Elyria, Ohio, Baker was initiated into Lorain Local 129 in 1987. From a very early age, he learned the importance of union political action.

The son of a Laborers Local 758 member, Baker was 10 when he first helped his father put up signs for candidates in Lorain.

"During my apprenticeship class, we were told that we needed to be involved — in both politics and the community," he says. "Not just out of civic responsibility, but because it translated into work and good jobs."

Baker served in a number of positions before being appointed business manager in 1987. Under his leadership, the local organized several new contractors, growing from 380 members to 435.

The local also become a key player in Northeast Ohio politics, heading up efforts to elect Sen. Sherrod Brown, then-Gov. Ted Strickland, state Treasurer Richard Cordray and many other local and state Democrats.

Baker served on the boards of numerous civic, community and labor organizations, including the local building trades council and the Lorain County Workforce Institute Board. He was elected president of the Lorain County AFL-CIO in 2001.

In 2007, International President Edwin D. Hill appointed Baker director of the Political/Legislative Department, only a few months after arriving in Washington, D.C. as an International Representative. During his tenure, he headed the IBEW's political efforts in two historic presidential elections, while beefing up the union's presence on Capitol Hill.

He helped implement the IBEW's grassroots political mobilization plan, recruiting registrars in nearly every local to help sign up voters, and strengthened the union's member-to-member networks to educate voters about issues concerning working families.

"We've made a lot of progress in unleashing the power of an educated union membership at the polls, which helped some decent pro-worker candidates from county council on up win office," he says.

Baker says he's particularly impressed by all the new tools the I.O has developed to educate and mobilize members to get-out-the-vote, from e-mail blasts and videos to social media.

"In many states this election cycle, it was union members — in particular IBEW members — who played a decisive role," he says. "And it's our grassroots political mobilization program that made it happen."

The officers, staff and members of the IBEW wish Brother Baker great success in his new position.


Brian Baker