The Electrical Worker online
September 2013

index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Boston Member Honored for
Actions after Marathon Bombing

When the first bomb went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15, Boston Local 103 member Stephen Shinney was less than a 100 yards away, talking on the phone with his sister Kaitlyn, who was somewhere in the crowd nearby. They were in the middle of an everyday conversation ("Where are you?"; "Where are you?") so common in the mobile phone era when an explosion shattered the afternoon.

The first pressure cooker filled with nails, ball bearings and gunpowder erupted in the crowd, shredding muscle and breaking bone, killing three people and maiming 264 others.

"I just started telling her to run," Shinney said. "I knew it was a bomb. In my head, I knew people were hurt, that people were dead."

Still on the phone, Shinney says his sister was telling him to leave too. From opposite sides of the blast site, Shinney, a trained emergency medical technician, and Kaitlyn, a veteran firefighter and paramedic, ran toward the smoking hole on Boylston Street. They didn't see each other, didn't even know that they had ignored each other's advice to get to safety. They were still on the phone 13 seconds later, when the second bomb went off a block away.

Shinney said when he cleared the barricade at the first bomb site, he came to the body of Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old from Medford, Mass., one of three killed by the bombs. Everywhere he looked, Shinney said, there was blood and ash.

"When I got there, I saw everything. Everywhere people were screaming," he said. "I knew people needed to be transferred, so I began to bring people out."

Pictures and closed circuit videos show Shinney running back to the bomb site with an empty wheelchair then bringing injured patients back to the marathon's medical tent several hundred yards away. He shuttled the injured to the tent until the bomb site was sealed off.

"Then I stayed at the medical tent, handing out IVs and helping the medics roll people onto stretchers, holding their heads in line with their backs in case their necks were broken," Shinney said.

Kaitlyn stayed with the injured at the first bomb site, identifying the worst injured, getting them into wheelchairs or ambulances or treating them herself.

It wasn't until he got home and watched the scene he'd just left on television that he began to think about what had happened and what he had done, and he hasn't really stopped thinking about it since.

"When I saw it, it finally sunk in. All the little kids that were hurt," he said. "When I am at work, every time I hear a loud bang, or someone drops a piece of steel, I see exactly where I was when bomb one went off. It's happening less often now."

IBEW Second District Vice President Frank Carroll said Shinney's "courage and generosity after the bombs went off is a powerful reminder that the good done by Shinney and others will outlive and outshine that day's darkness."

Videos and newspaper stories were the first to call him a hero. Then he and Kaitlyn were given citations by the mayor and city council of their hometown, Weymouth, for heroism. Shinney insists he didn't do anything extraordinary that day.

"His humility is a testament to his character but there is no other word for it," said International President Edwin D. Hill. "On that day, Brother Shinney embodied our deepest ideals and was a credit to himself, his family and his union."

"Growing up in our family, we were taught if someone needs help, you give it," he said. "Just say I did a good thing."


Boston Local 3 member Stephen Shinney and his sister Kaitlyn were presented signed Red Sox jerseys and an award for their actions after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Federal Workers Alliance, IBEW Challenging Furloughs

A coalition of 20 unions including the IBEW, has launched a campaign to challenge the furlough of 650,000 Department of Defense civilian employees. Since July 1, the Federal Workers Alliance has been urging members of Congress to eliminate 11 unpaid furlough days that are part of the federal government's budget sequester.

Using an array of tactics to influence elected officials including office visits, electronic constituent letters, phone calls and social media activism, FWA is spreading the message: "Federal employees have already sacrificed more than $103 billion in pay and benefits, and unpaid furlough days are the last straw."

Many of the 65,000 IBEW members who work in the federal sector — like shipyard workers, Army Corps of Engineers civilian employees who operate locks and dams or members at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — are not currently affected by the sequester. But others who work under the Service Contract Act, including represented employees at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, could lose their jobs due to the cuts triggered by the sequester.

IBEW members affected include members of Jackson, Miss., Local 605 and Cleveland, Miss., Local 985 who work for the Air Force Space Surveillance System, which will close all sites on Oct. 2.

Whether or not IBEW members are immediately affected by furlough days or layoffs due to sequestration, says IBEW Government Department Director Chico McGill, "Our members need to support the DoD workers now. The men and women being furloughed today provide essential support to our soldiers, supporting their missions abroad and defending our families against threats at home."

"The austerity measures that reduce their pay by as much as 20 percent could be deepened over the next 10 years, impacting tens of thousands of federal workers — including our own members, and our surrounding communities." Some of the furloughs are nonsensical and self-defeating, says McGill, like telling security workers at a military base in Georgia to stay home, causing civilian workers to stand in line for hours before they could enter security screening to start their workdays.

McGill urges IBEW members to contact their congressional representatives to stop the furloughs. "Studies have shown that $900 billion could be put back into the economy if the government ends sequestration," he says, citing estimates of increased spending by people earning salaries, helping spur economy recovery.

McGill encourages all local unions with jurisdiction over federal workers to respond to a questionnaire sent from the International Office detailing how their members are affected by austerity measures.

Congressional Republicans and President Obama agreed to the sequester in the summer of 2011. Under that agreement, failure to slash the deficit by $4 trillion by 2013 would result in automatic across-the-board cuts. Obama and congressional Democrats have offered numerous plans to avoid the cuts since then, but have been blocked by the GOP, which rejects any budget plan that does not involve cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

FWA Chairman William Dougan, speaking for 300,000 federal workers whose unions belong to the alliance, says, "It is entirely possible to reduce mandatory furlough days due to a quirk in the sequestration law requiring all accounts at a federal department/agency to be cut equally."

With thousands of members engaged in shipbuilding from the Naval shipyard in New Hampshire to Huntington-Ingalls historic yard in Mississippi, the IBEW, says International President Edwin D. Hill, has a serious stake in both budget policy and military readiness.

"Some experts already say that our nation's naval fleet is not large enough to meet our worldwide obligations," says Hill. "We can't be silent while politicians claiming to be acting in the public interest cut into the muscle of our nation's defense and deplete our skilled manufacturing base."

IBEW's members in the federal sector cover a wide range of responsibilities and skill sets and work across the United States. They include men and women who maintain trails in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for the Department of the Interior, printers at the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C., and in the Bureau of Reclamation in Denver who study the effects of dam development on surrounding natural resources.


The Federal Workers Alliance has helped coordinate the struggle against furloughs with stickers, online petitions and lobbying.