The Electrical Worker online
March 2013

Letters to the Editor
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Why Union?

My grandfather was a proud union man. "Steffy," he would say, "make sure that you get into a union when you grow up, otherwise you might be employed with some character that likes to stick it to the man." It wasn't until several years later that I understood. Before becoming an electrician I saw how big companies were "sticking it to the man." My first electrical job was nonunion. I felt lucky to have made it home safe every day. Now that I belong to Local 213 as a sister, I see why everyone should belong to a union.

IBEW ensures that safety protocols are followed by the companies. They ensure wages that are not going to leave me working but barely able to afford housing and food. They accept all genders and nationalities. They endorse training, and a feeling of acceptance. There's a brotherhood and sisterhood that happens with its members. Not to mention all of the other health and pension benefits.

I catch myself paraphrasing my dear grandfather to my four children: "When you grow up, you make sure you belong to a strong union. Otherwise you risk working for a company that likes to stick it to the man."

Stefany Tunshell, Local 213 member
Vancouver, B.C.

In the Spotlight

I would like to congratulate this year's winners of the IBEW Photo Contest. I enjoy viewing the photos and have also offered entries in the past. I do have issues with some of the photos that are chosen by the committee that make it to the final selection to be voted on by the public. It is stated that the photos should "spotlight [the] IBEW at work." While this year's top three winners include our members at work, many photos do not include any actual membership involvement. Sure photos of high lines covered in ice, bridge lights and wind turbines are very scenic. Where in any of these types of photos is there any real proof that the work was even performed by our members? I am just stumped as to how each year this continues. I truly enjoy the contest, but I will never submit a photo that doesn't include a member doing the work that truly spotlights the IBEW.

Thomas Zielke, Local 86 member
Rochester, N.Y.

(Editor's Note: We're glad Brother Zielke enjoys the contest, which has proven popular among our members and the public. We would point out that the full text of contest rule 5 states: "Photo entries must have an IBEW theme of some sort, with IBEW members at work, engaged in union-related activity or subjects conveying images of the electrical industry or the union." We feel that shots of power lines, conduit and the like taken on the job meet these criteria and reflect the pride our members take in bringing such projects to completion.)

No Apologies

I am a retired 42-year member of the IBEW. My son is a union electrician. Bob Walton, Local 103, ("A Diversity of Views," December 2012) says he votes with his wallet as his guide. Brother Wickwire, Local 424, ("Politics and the Working Class," December 2012) would call me ignorant for having a different set of priorities. I have difficulty supporting a president who changes his mind and endorses gay marriage, will not support the Defense of Marriage Act, and won't support the rights of the unborn. I find it almost laughable as well, that out of hundreds of candidates the IBEW endorsed, there was not one Republican among them. Even International President Hill suggested that, "we find common ground," and reject "short-sighted partisan bickering." That might go a long way for union members as well, if we are willing to have the discussion.

Gary Vander Bent, Local 21 retiree Chicago

(Editor's Note: We respect Brother Vander Bent's opinion, but the facts tell a different story. The IBEW contributed to at least the following numbers of Republican candidates up for election in 2012: 11 candidates for federal positions; 42 candidates for local positions and 80 candidates for state positions. We do not require local unions to provide the political party of candidates at the state and local level. Therefore, it is likely the IBEW contributed to more Republican candidates than are counted above. Local 21, Mr. Vander Bent's local union, contributed money to Donald Moffit, a Republican running for the Illinois State House of Representatives. It has always been our policy to support those politicians who support us on the issues that affect our ability to make a living: right to work, project labor agreements and David-Bacon laws, as well as those whose votes reflect the values that make the middle class thrive. These candidates are overwhelmingly from the Democratic Party.)