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December 2013

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In Case of Emergency, Call I-B-E-W

The October article ("Utility Companies Recruit Wiremen for Emergency Response Teams") on the need for more first responders was excellent and right to the point.

I have been a first responder as long as I have been in the IBEW and am continuing in the role since my retirement. When a disaster strikes, we have always picked up our tool boxes and reported to the scene.

In 1989 during the San Francisco earthquake, we were the first electricians on the Oakland side of the Bay to respond and set up power and communications. Having worked in the area, we knew how to contact PG&E and telephone companies. We got temporary power and communications up during the night and also assisted in rescue operations.

In 1990 my home town, Paradise, Calif., was hit with a freak snowstorm which wiped out power for five days. Outside line crews were brought in and immediately ran into problems. I responded with several other inside wiremen and led the line crews in.

We inspected every service and assisted line crews in disconnecting all the damaged services so they could get the main lines in operation. Without our help, they would have been days on the job just finding the breaks.

During the fires in Northern California in 2008, we assisted again. Since we knew the area we both bird dogged for line crews but also for the firefighters who were brought in. We made maps for the crews and established communications.

I was on the job in San Francisco on 9/11 when we got word to shut down all the major buildings. Several of us headed for the convention center where the IBEW convention was taking place and assisted our representatives.

After my retirement I joined the Red Cross and trained as a first responder. Without communications and accurate damage assessment there can be no response. This is where IBEW inside wiremen communications workers, and linemen can really help. In northern California we have helped in setting up fire safe councils, emergency operations training and assisted in training electrical inspectors.

Those of us who have had years of electrical work are valuable assets. We provided the best quality workmanship for years, building America. We are available.

Tom Kelly, Local 6 retiree
San Francisco

No Work, No Workers?

I was just reading October's edition of The Electrical Worker. I read Mr. Hill's column ("All in to Win?") and tried to see his point of view about organizing all workers in the electrical trade under one banner. But isn't that point of view a little far-fetched?

There is no way the IBEW is going to even win back the numbers we had in our heyday.

Let's concentrate on leaning on our contractors to bid work. It does not do any good to say you make all this money and have all these great benefits if there is no work. How do you expect to organize if there is no work?

That's why I left the IBEW work scene: no work. I am a member in good standing for the last 14 years.

I've seen the bumper sticker that reads: "Live Better. Work Union." But I've been claiming unemployment for all but about 10 weeks this year. How is that better? I cannot raise a family or have dignity on constant unemployment.

So Mr. Hill is sadly mistaken. We don't need more workers. We need more WORK.

Dana Herrell, Local 1105 member
Newark, Ohio

IBEW_Facebook  From Facebook: Every month the IBEW Facebook page receives thousands of comments from our dynamic and engaged community of members and friends. Starting this month, the Electrical Worker will share some of the best with its readers.

Point of Pride

I called my two young sons (7 and 4) into the room when the IBEW ad came on during football Sunday. I was overwhelmed with pride when I was able to say "Look boys... This is what Daddy does every day... That man right there is my brother." Though they may not be able to see what it is that we do, they are always right there with me when I'm doing it. I thank the good Lord that I can provide for them well because of the IBEW. God bless my brothers all over this country!!!

Esteban Medina, Local 60
San Antonio, Texas