The Electrical Worker online
April 2013

index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Knoxville Leaders Honor IBEW with Street Naming

Generations of community service to Knoxville and surrounding Knox County were recognized in December when mayors of both jurisdictions named streets in honor of IBEW Local 760.

For men and women whose bread and butter depends upon taxpayer-funded electrical construction projects at the Tennessee Valley Authority, the University of Tennessee and maintaining municipal utilities, practicing solidarity has always extended far beyond their own ranks.

"We don't just write checks when groups in our community and our leaders ask for help, we put boots on the ground," says George Bove, business manager of Knoxville Local 760.

It was out of respect for his local's 85-year tradition — including helping to construct the 1982 World's Fair — that Bove asked Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and their legislative bodies to rename streets in honor of Local 760.

The Knoxville City Council approved the renaming of Rosemond Drive as "Honorary IBEW 760 Drive" in December. A permanent name change is in the works. And a street in Knox County is also being renamed.

"Both mayors are friends of Local 760 and were happy to show it," says Bove, whose local members stay visible on projects from ringing bells for the Salvation Army to wiring houses for Habitat for Humanity — more than 20 to date — and dozens of other civic endeavors.

"We have a very active and giving group that belongs to organized labor," says Rogero. IBEW and other unions, she says, are major contributors to the city's United Way campaign and they encourage their members to be involved in schools, PTAs and other institutions.

While the naming of streets is all about symbolism, Bove says the relationship between the mayors, the IBEW and local labor unions has contributed to building a consensus that is productive and durable. That, he says, is not easy in a right-to-work state where anti-union politicians hold a lot of sway.

Rogero agrees. However, the Florida-born daughter of a union plumber who started his own business but kept paying his dues, says, "One of the things I love about city government is that it's nonpartisan. Potholes and economic development are not partisan. We need common-sense solutions to problems."

Local newspapers praised Rogero, an urban planner by training, for negotiating an innovative fix to the city's pension liabilities for public workers, including firefighters, police officers and general government employees.

"It was important to have the trust of employee representatives and to be totally honest about the realities of the situation we were in and the role of public opinion in coming up with solutions," says Rogero, who brought together unions, managers and local business leaders.

Rogero faced down pressure during the pension negotiations from other political leaders and citizens who wanted to gut public pensions and weaken unions.

Bove says Knoxville was once a "union town, tried and true," but things have changed. "Mayor Rogero had heat on her like nobody. She sleeps on a bed of nails and the firefighters and other unions love her for it." Rogero participated in seven city council workshops to sharpen the dialogue over the city's fiscal future. Then, she says, "We had to go out and sell our solution to the public."

A frequent guest at functions sponsored by IBEW and signatory contractors, Rogero says, "It's great to see labor and management working well together and continuing to invest in Knoxville." She praises the labor-management partnership for installing electric vehicle charging stations at nine locations in the city and supporting her efforts to replace blighted properties with new development.

As Knoxville residents get used to traveling on IBEW 760 Drive, Bove, a member of the United Way's board of directors, says he will always be looking for more opportunities to do the right thing in Knoxville.

"Our members go to church or see their neighbors in the grocery store. We are part of this community, part of a family," Bove said.

Rogero, who successfully lobbied to extend the city's nondiscrimination ordinance to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, still draws inspiration from her early 20s when she volunteered to work with Cesar Chavez's United Farmworkers. She says, "It was a truly wonderful experience for someone [that age] to be aware of other cultures and have the opportunity to help workers have a dignified life and support their families."


Knoxville Local 760's service to the city and surrounding Knox County were honored by street signs in both locales.

Michigan Training Center Recognized by
County Officials

It's no secret: the best training in the electrical industry can be found at your local IBEW-NECA training center.

Business leaders and local officials in Metro Detroit agree. In February, the Southeastern Michigan IBEW-NECA Electrical Industry Training Center was recognized with the Macomb County Business Award for Workforce Development.

"We are humbled and honored to receive the award that acknowledges our contribution to world-class training of the finest electricians in the region," says Training Center Director Gary Polulak.

The award was presented by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. He says the awards celebrate organizations and businesses that improve life in the county.

The center beat out more than 40 other nominees.

"We know the training at our facility sets our members apart and provides our customers with the best experience and productivity on the job," says Detroit Local 58 Business Manager Michael Richard.

Like most IBEW training centers, the Macomb County facility boasts programs in nearly every aspect of the electric industry, including offerings in renewables like solar and wind and energy conservation technologies such as advanced lighting controls.

With the domestic auto industry making a comeback and Southeast Michigan increasingly a center for advanced manufacturing, the IBEW and NECA play a vital role in supplying skilled electricians to keep the industry moving forward. Macomb County, the third-biggest in the state, borders Detroit and is the historic home to the tool and die industry.

"We are committed to training to meet industry demand and to give our members and contractors an ongoing edge in the market," Richard said.

More information on Local 58 is available on


The Southeastern Michigan IBEW-NECA Electrical Industry Training Center was this year's winner of the Macomb County Business Award for Workforce Development. Center staff, from left, are Gary Polulak, training director; Andy Dueweke, Marty McLean, Jodi Sheppard, Beau Burton; Kathy Devlin, Tom Bowes, Barry Brunke and Kathy Price.

Hawaii's First-Ever Lineman Rodeo
More than 300 linemen took part in this year's Lineman's Rodeo in February, in Kona, Hawaii. This marked the first time the annual contest was held in the Aloha State. Honolulu Local 1260, along with Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Company and Maui Electric Company served as sponsors.