The Electrical Worker online
May 2013

Letters to the Editor
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Membership Privileges

Coming from a life with some hardships, I had neither the grades nor the money to attend college. I served more than three years in the Navy, including one on a riverboat in Vietnam. After that, an old friend who had recently joined the IBEW suggested I apply for an apprenticeship. I am happy to say that I did.

To this day, I feel that this was the BEST DECISION of my life. Not only was I able to provide the best possible life for my family, but I worked under fair and safe conditions. I was able to purchase a home, my wife was able to stay home and raise our children. I was able to take care of any medical problems I encountered due to an excellent benefit package. I now receive an excellent pension while I watch others who were not union members continue to work past their retirement age as their 401(k)s shrink due to the market's fluctuation. I am truly indebted to the IBEW and our forefathers who fought long and hard to make the IBEW what it is today.

Leo Meade, Local 351 retiree
Folsom, N.J.

Living the Dream

I am a 29-year-old recent college graduate. I am a husband, a father and a highly motivated first-year inside wireman apprentice. In August 2011, I graduated from Oakland City University with a bachelor's degree in business management, summa cum laude. For over a year, I searched for a position in which I could apply my hard-earned skills and education. Nearly 10 months and over 100 resumes and applications later, I was offered a position selling life insurance to senior citizens for $9.50 an hour, ALMOST 2 HOURS AWAY!

The very next day, I contacted my local JATC's training director to learn more about the application and selection process. From that conversation on, I was impressed with the professionalism and respect I received from everyone associated with the IBEW, NECA and my local JATC. I knew from that very moment I wanted to provide my wife and kids with the quality of life they deserve. So I studied and passed the entrance exam with flying colors and was selected as a top candidate out of a pool of over 200 applicants.

Today, I'm employed at the GM plant in Bedford, Ind. And it's less than two blocks from my house!

What I truly received that day was a once in a lifetime opportunity: A clearly defined career path with steadily progressing benefit and wage increases as outlined in our collective bargaining agreement — not just another empty promise never to see fruition.

Matthew A. Chastain, Local 16 first-year apprentice
Evanston, Ind.

Giving Back to the Trade

When I was inducted in 1966 as a first-year apprentice into Essex County, N.J., Local 52 (now Jersey City Local 164), my dad and my grandfather, both lifetime members, told me to respect our Brotherhood, work hard and learn. And this: "Always give back to our electrical trade."

There were tough times when hundreds were on the bench back in the '70s and '80s. At the completion of my apprenticeship in 1970, I had also joined the Rahway Emergency Ambulance Squad, where I worked as a volunteer. So I set up first aid and CPR training for Local 52 members.

When Edwin D. Hill became President, I continued to promote the safety end of our electrical trade. About seven years ago, I became chair of the new Association of Union Constructors Safety Committee. I have had a chance to really get to know President Hill, one of the best businessmen one could ask for and I am damn proud to keep giving back. In May 2011, I was appointed to the OSHA Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health by the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.

So what is my message? It's not about me — my message is what my dad and grandpa instilled in me. GIVE BACK TO OUR TRADE, as many of our IBEW brothers and sisters do. Too many times we seem to drift from that wisdom. It's OK in politics to disagree, but I am a strong believer in the brother- and sisterhood of our IBEW — united we stand strong…. Divided we are destined to fail. We need to be united now more than ever before to regain our market share.

William E. Hering, Local 164 member
Paramus, N.J.