The Electrical Worker online
June 2013

Letters to the Editor
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A True Labor Party?

In the April issue of The Electrical Worker, Brother Robert Fitz ("GOP Friends or Foes?") takes the Republican Party to task for their attacks on the working class and, in particular, organized labor. I agree with his sentiments wholeheartedly. But although he doesn't mention the Democratic Party by name, it could be inferred that that is the logical alternative to the GOP for a working man's vote; sadly, that is no longer the case.

Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA. President Obama was in favor of single-payer health care as a candidate but immediately caved in to the insurance industry and Big Pharma upon being elected. Despite numerous opportunities, not once has our president honored his pledge to walk a picket line with us. And does anyone remember the Employee Free Choice Act promised us for our support? In Oregon most of the members of the Progressive Democratic Caucus wouldn't sign a pledge not to vote for cuts to the social safety net. I worked to re-elect the president and was rewarded for my efforts by his proposal to cut Social Security, despite the fact that it is a self-funded trust and has no place in the federal budget.

Until we get a true labor party going, I'd suggest that Brother Fitz take a look at the Working Families Party; they have more allegiance to the working class than either of the major parties.

Ray Kenny, Local 48 retiree, Oregon Working Families Party delegate
Portland, Ore.

A Storied Career

William "Bill" Mitchell and Norman Howard finished their long careers in the IBEW on March 28 with their retirement from Hatzel & Buehler, Inc. They are the first journeyman wiremen to retire from Hatzel & Buehler since the opening of H&B's Ohio/West Virginia office. Brothers Mitchell and Howard spent the last several years working at the Ashland Works of AK Steel Corp., as members of Huntington, W.Va., Local 317.

Established in 1894, Hatzel and Buehler is the oldest electrical contractor in the country. It is also the oldest continuous member of the National Electrical Contractors Association. One of H&B's oldest documented projects was the installation of the electrical service at the famous Biltmore Mansion in Ashville, N.C. The main switchboard has been preserved and still bears Hatzel & Buehler's logo.

Bill Mitchell, Local 317 retiree
Huntington, W.Va.


Mitchell and Howard

Divide and Conquer?

Regarding "No Apologies" (Letter to the Editor from Gary Vander Bent, March 2013), what does gay marriage and the support for the unborn have to do to with IBEW members? It does nothing to help retirees and future apprentices and journeymen paying into the pension fund for current and future retirees.

Brother Vander Bent and too many confuse this or only care that they got theirs. There is no brotherhood or fraternity in this. They are only fostering the GOP and anti-union foes trying to divide and conquer union members.

Hundreds of thousands of union members are struggling to recover from the last recession. Try telling them how being anti-gay marriage and pro-life can pay their mortgages and bills and put food on the table.

I would love to see Brother Vander Bent and his ilk go to Sensata, a nonunion manufacturing company, and push his views. Last November, Sensata was bought out by Bain Capital even though it was profitable and moved to China and other spots besides the U.S. Mitt Romney, who owns over 51 percent and over $8 million in the Bain firm, did nothing to stop this.

The GOP has done all that it could to stop any moderate candidates. At best they will lie to get elected and then vote party line in office.

We need a Democratic tea party-style offensive to get rid of the fake blue dog and corporatist Democrats. And stop fighting to divide union members.

Steven Josephson, Local 134 member