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April 2014

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Manufacturing Member Makes Tapestry of Solidarity

At any gathering of union members, you can always count on one thing: T-shirts. Bearing the union's colors and announcing — often quite loudly and creatively — their cities or towns, T-shirts help members express their pride.

Last year, some sisters in Lincoln, Neb., Local 2366 decided to build a savings account to help out fellow members who were off work on extended medical leaves. So they put T-shirts and union pride to work as a fundraising device.

Teresa Ekstein, a 41-year local member who was employed by circuit breaker manufacturer Square D and now works for its successor, Schneider Electric, volunteered to make a quilt out of T-shirts from the 11th District.

The quilt was raffled off at the district's 2013 progress meeting — with all proceeds going to IBEW Local 2366's Union Angels.

After he saw pictures of the quilt, IBEW Manufacturing Department Director Randy Middleton got in touch with Ekstein and asked if she would put her sewing skills to work to make a quilt and two pillows for a raffle at this month's Broadcasting, Manufacturing and Telecommunications Conference at Connecticut's Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Middleton sent out a request to 101 local unions to send T-shirts for the quilt to Washington. He received 68. Then Ekstein went to work.

One hundred and fifty hours later, Ekstein's work was done with a giant quilt and two log pillows. "Teresa did a great job," Middleton says.

"Our manufacturing branch, like every union's, has taken some big hits over the past few decades," Middleton says. "But the beautiful quilt and pillows show that we still have tens of thousands of members who manufacture and assemble high-quality goods throughout the U.S."Proceeds of the raffle at Foxwoods will go to a local charity.


Lincoln, Neb., Local 2366 member Teresa Ekstein stitched a quilt of IBEW T-shirts for a charity raffle.

IBEW Urges Caution in Comcast-Time Warner Merger

International President Edwin D. Hill is urging federal regulators to carefully review the bid by Comcast Communications to acquire Time Warner Cable.

The $45.2 billion deal announced in February would create the largest cable provider in the United States, a move that has major implications for the telecommunications industry as a whole.

"Regulators need to evaluate several issues related to the merger including: job creation, its impact on innovation in the telecommunications industry and narrowing of consumer choice," Hill said in a press statement.

Critics of the deal, including consumer activists, lawmakers and labor unions, say that the merger would create a monopoly that could stifle technological innovation, while sticking consumers with higher bills.

"I am concerned that the proposed acquisition could result in higher prices, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers," Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wrote in a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The IBEW represents several thousand workers at Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

"We stand ready to engage all interested parties, including management, to best serve the needs of the consumer, job growth and the broader economy," Hill said.