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March 2014

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Get on the Bus

I'm dismayed by the uninformed opinion of some of those who choose to write to you. In response to the letter "No Work, No Workers?" (December) submitted by Newark, Ohio, Local 1105 member Dana Herrell, his idea to gain more work is to "lean on our contractors to bid more work." Has Brother Herrell attended COMET training? Has he participated in member-to-member training? Has he attended J.W. upgrade classes? Has he personally adopted "The Code of Excellence?" Has he participated in any meaningful way in organizing efforts sponsored by his L.U.? If there was no other pool of workers available in his area other than the IBEW, then we'd have all of the work and no competition. He says he is a member in good standing, but being current in his dues does nothing to advance the goals of the IBEW or enhance work opportunities in his local's jurisdiction. My suggestion to this brother is get on the bus, find a seat and be a participant rather than watch the bus go by. This is an exciting time to be an IBEW member and there are opportunities for everyone to be a participant.

Charles Headington, Local 639 training director
San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Due to an editing error, a letter in the February issue ("A Winning Play") from 40-year member Andy Mihok, of Syracuse, N.Y., Local 1249, incorrectly listed the year of his retirement as 1985. He in fact retired in 1995. We regret the error.

Classes for Contractors

After reading the January 2014 Electrical Worker interview with Ed Hill ("Recovery Agreements: Winning Members, Customers and Market Share"), I was thinking about other alternatives for expanding our work share. Are we training our apprentices with any skills that may help them to start their own contracting business? We are very heavy on theory and practically nothing on business practices. St. Louis Local 1 has started such a program. Wouldn't it help the entire Brotherhood if more small shops could be started with the help of classes that focus on starting your own business? Maybe some of these future contractors would focus on small commercial/service type business that we are not doing now.

John J. Vikara, Local 569 member
San Diego

Editor's Note: It was in response to many similar suggestions that the IBEW decided to launch a training program, Market-Driven Contracting, to better accomplish the goal of increasing market share in sectors where the union is weak. Please see a story on this program and how to register for classes that will begin in May.

Yours in Brotherhood

My friend and partner, Local 134 journeyman wireman Gary Beno, fell from a structure and died as a result of his injuries. Shortly after the accident, although I have no knowledge of how our union hall was notified, Business Agent Michael Gogola and Safety Officer Anthony LaPorte were out on the scene. They didn't know my partner, they didn't ask what happened or why the accident occurred, nor did they grill me about safety or liability issues. Instead, they consoled and assured me they were there for me, and more importantly, for the family of our fallen brother. Now I know many of you reading this are saying to yourselves, "That's their job." I agree, they should be on the scene of events of this magnitude, but what I learned and witnessed firsthand was more than the fulfillment of an obligation. I had not met them prior to this accident, but they stayed by my side and provided a sense of support beyond words. More importantly, they were there for my partner's children when they learned of the loss of their father, but they took a step back until the time was right to console and reassure them. They also provided contact information and emphasized they were only a phone call away, and their support did not stop there. The officers were present at the funeral services. And afterward, they continued to assist his family with matters pertaining to benefits and financial obligations. They promised and they delivered on the true meaning of "Yours in Brotherhood."

As devastating and unfortunate as this accident was, I learned a few things about Local 134 on that day and those that followed. Although it was an experience I would never wish on anyone, I am truly grateful for the support I received. Next time you read the words "Yours In Brotherhood," know there is truth in those words! In memory of my good friend and partner Gary P. Beno, loyal member of IBEW Local 134.

John R. Menton, Local 134 member