The Electrical Worker online
August 2013

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A Call for Prayer

My father, Don Denne, is a foreman at Cleveland Public Power and a member of Local 39. He has worked at CPP for 25 years. On Memorial Day, he was literally blown up when an 11,000-volt feeder exploded just two feet from him near Edgewater and Lake Erie. At 62, Don suffered 3rd degree burns on 33 percent of his body, including his face, head, chest and both hands and arms. Don is at Metro's Burn Unit in Cleveland, and has had four successful skin graft operations. He has been in a Level 6 coma, and has suffered a heart attack, severe fever and kidney failure that has required dialysis. Worst of all, a stroke has paralyzed the entire left side of his body. The nurses and doctors have said at his age, it is a complete miracle that Don is still alive! This incident has changed the life of a faithful union employee and his family forever. I have been approached by local union leaders Brian Dean and others who have offered support for my father. I know it would mean the world to Don, if he makes it through this, our family, and all of his employees and co-workers at CPP, to know they have the support of union electrical workers everywhere who read your newspaper. Prayers for Don Denne, his wife Deborah Denne, and all of Don's family at Cleveland Public Power would lift our spirits and hope.

Jake Krey and the Denne family

Outsourcing to Local 57?

I am writing in regard to the ongoing problem with Local 57, the so-called electrical contractors/carpenters union that the local and international carpenters union has been promoting in the St. Louis area. This, my brothers and sisters, is a problem that is spreading like wildfire across this country.

I'm a retired second-generation Local 1 member, and my son is third-generation, currently working in the local. These so-called union contractors are the same contractors who have torn our conditions and fair wages down for decades. They do not have an apprenticeship like local unions across this country. This started in the St. Louis market and has now traveled across the state into southern Illinois and is moving north toward Chicago. If we don't meet and expose this challenge head-on for the union fakes they are, and stop this plague as a unified IBEW, the carpenters will not stop at Missouri and Illinois.

They want to bring us down to their level, destroying our standard of living. Local 57 has been doing Local 1 work and before we know it, our utility companies could start outsourcing work to them. Your state could be next.

Ronnie L. Marsh, Local 1 retiree
St. Louis

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My Mentor

My father opened his own contracting company in 1984. He started from the ground up. I went to college and owned my own business for five years and sold it to go into the family business. My father would only be a contractor if he had a signed agreement with the Local 5. I was a project manager, estimator and our safety director for many years. One afternoon he said, "You're going to apply for the apprenticeship and join the union."

So many men in Local 5 changed my life and my outlook on our trade. My instructors, especially Tim Washanski, Anthony Cortazzo, and Mike Varhola, molded me into the journeyman I am. I did my whole apprenticeship with Carl Thomas, a third-generation Local 5 member who taught me everything I know. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Mike Funfar, Edward Monahan, Steve Radacsi and Bill Guenther. They are some of the finest electricians I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

We employed up to 150 Local 5 members and these members are the best. In 2012, my father was ready to retire after a 46-year career. He asked me if I wanted the company, but I declined. My father made a ton of money being a contractor, but he took all of the risk. He retired a multimillionaire. If it were not for all the fine members of IBEW Local 5, I do not believe he would have been as successful as he was. I told my father when he asked about me taking the company: "I make a great wage working for Local 5 and I can live a good life doing what I love." I went to a great university for four years, but my father and the fine men I have known from Local 5 have taught me more than I ever learned in college. Thanks to my father and all the fine men in Local 5 and the IBEW for giving me the life I have today!

Lance Moletz, Local 5 member
Pittsburgh, Pa.