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May 2014

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IBEW Unity Fund Critical to Fighting Anti-Worker Agenda

The Koch brothers are trying to buy elections. Anti-labor lobbyists helped defeat VW workers' effort to organize in Tennessee. And right-to-work may be coming to states like Missouri, Ohio and Maine if anti-union lawmakers succeed in carrying out their corporate donors' wishes.

The enemies of working families have deep pockets we can never match.

But collectively we can make a difference, and that's why the IBEW International Officers created the Unity Fund in 2011 — to give local front-line activists vital resources in their efforts to defend hard-won gains for working families across the U.S. Since then, members have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help take on anti-union lawmakers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and beyond.

But the fight is getting tougher. Americans for Prosperity — an arm of brothers Charles and David Koch's massive anti-worker network — spent nearly $130 million in 2012's election season alone. Right now in Missouri, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Chamber of Commerce and other well-funded groups are piling on the pressure to pass right-to-work in the very state where the IBEW was founded.

"Anti-union forces may have piles of cash at their disposal, but we have the backing of hundreds of thousands of our brave brothers and sisters who are saying 'enough' to corporate power plays," said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill. "Members' donations, however modest, will go a long way in helping protect our rights and our way of life."

In three years, the Unity Fund has contributed more than $700,000 to local unions embroiled in legislative fights to save collective bargaining and other keystones of the middle class.

"I am now asking that we increase our efforts as the needs continue to grow," President Hill wrote in a letter to all local union leaders across the U.S. "It is my goal that we collect $1 million annually from our local unions to provide the necessary resources to be effective in our response to these fights. Even if your local is not currently subject to such activities, I encourage you to contribute in the name of solidarity, as we are all in this together."

If you would like to make a donation to help IBEW activists stand up for your rights on the job, visit, or make checks payable to the IBEW Unity Fund and mail them to:

IBEW Unity Fund
900 Seventh Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Please note that donations to the IBEW Unity Fund are not tax deductible for individual federal income tax purposes.


Protestors demonstrate in the Wisconsin statehouse rotunda against Gov. Scott Walker's draconian rollback of collective bargaining rights in 2011.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Wikimedia Commons user Joe Rowley.

FCC Votes To Save TV News Jobs

Leading union activists representing broadcasting employees cheered a move that will help promote diversity in local media markets while saving jobs.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 March 31 to restrict so-called joint sales agreements, a practice that has allowed large media conglomerates to effectively swallow up smaller stations in the same market.

Prior to the vote, a large company could enter into an agreement with a smaller station to share and streamline resources. By using the same ad revenue and newsroom infrastructure, the two stations would combine content to deliver essentially the same product to viewers of both stations.

Supporters of the practice say it allows newsrooms with lower budgets to share content and simplify the news reporting process.

But critics — including the IBEW and the Communications Workers of America, among others — have contended that it destroys jobs in a rapidly changing industry, while watering down content and creating a dearth of independent community voices that receive airtime.

Fortunately for TV news professionals, the FCC saw it that way, too. Under the new rules, a large broadcasting company that sells more than 15 percent of ads for a smaller station in the same market will now be considered to have an ownership stake in the station — which could violate FCC rules.

With less consolidation comes a greater number of voices on the news, and that means jobs.

"After all, when two or more stations combine, employees at one of the stations are no longer needed," wrote Jim Joyce, president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/CWA, in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler ahead of the vote. Wheeler voted with the majority to curb the joint sales agreements.

Such agreements have affected hundreds of union jobs, as consolidated stations lay off directors, photographers, editors, engineers, truck operators and more.

"When there are fewer newsrooms, jobs are cut, normally leaving fewer opportunities for all journalists to find work," wrote Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, in a March 6 blog post. "Viewers for the different stations get the same news delivered by the same people, limiting the opportunity to hear different viewpoints. For those who work in these newly 'shared' newsrooms, there is more work and less time for in-depth or investigative reporting."

Media watchdogs have said the joint sales agreements have allowed powerful companies "to dodge the FCC's ownership rules and grow their empires at the public's expense," Craig Aaron, president of the advocacy group Free Press, told "And for too long the agency has looked the other way as these companies have dominated the airwaves."

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill praised the FCC's vote. "In the marketplace of ideas, more diverse voices are better than just a few. By limiting these service agreements, the commission is standing up for strong journalism, a variety of perspectives and good American jobs. Thank you for voting to help do away with these job-killing practices."

The IBEW represents more than 10,000 members in the broadcasting industry who work for major networks and local affiliates throughout the U.S. and Canada.


The Federal Communications Commission voted March 31 to limit TV stations' abilities to share certain services — a practice that had shed hundreds of jobs in the broadcasting industry.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Wikimedia Commons user United States Navy.

New IBEW Ad Celebrates American Manufacturing

It can seem tougher these days to find products on store shelves that don't have a "Made in China" label.

But from high-tech lighting to state-of-the-art defense technology, good jobs are still flourishing for many skilled IBEW members crafting products right here at home. And as some companies "re-shore" products previously made overseas, American workers and consumers could both stand to gain.

Our new national ad — entitled "Proudly American, Proudly Union"– celebrates the craftsmanship of thousands of members in our manufacturing branch.

Featuring shots of workers on the job, the 30-second spot shows the depth and breadth of our members' work at companies across the U.S.

"Some say American industry can't keep up anymore," the video's narrator says over a montage of smiling IBEW members and conveyor belts full of goods. "I say our work is proof that 'Made in the USA' still means something."

The video was produced by IBEW broadcasting members in the Media Department at the International Office in Washington, D.C. The bright, vivid images were captured at six unionized facilities nationwide, including Rockwell Collins' plant in Des Moines, Iowa; GE's factory in Bloomington, Ind., and elsewhere.

"The commercial shows how much of our lives are impacted by the IBEW," said Sean Bartel, video producer for the IBEW's Media Department. "Yes, our members are the ones keeping the power on in your community, but we also make items around your house. These are solid jobs right here in the U.S., and they're performed by highly trained, highly skilled professionals."

Past IBEW national commercials have been seen by millions of viewers, and have earned tens of thousands of clicks, "likes" and "shares" on social media networks like Facebook.

"Proudly American, Proudly Union" is now running nationally on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and other networks. Watch it on our popular YouTube page at


The IBEW's new national ad, 'Proudly American, Proudly Union,' shows the skills of members who manufacture goods across the U.S.

Louisville Local Commemorates Civil Rights March

In 1964, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and baseball superstar Jackie Robinson marched on the Kentucky state capitol calling for voting rights for African-Americans and an end to discrimination in public accommodations, housing and jobs. Two years later, Kentucky became the first Southern state to ban segregation in public accommodations.

On March 5, 50 years after King and Robinson arrived in Frankfort, 3,000 Kentucky residents commemorated the march, gathering in the capital city.

Members of Louisville Local 369 were prominently featured, marching behind a banner promoting single-payer health care in a story on the rally in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"Dr. King was a big proponent of union labor. He fought for all of us," says Business Manager Charles Essex, who teamed with United Autoworkers 802, representing workers at the Louisville Ford assembly plant, to bus participants to the rally. "The turnout was great, considering that temperatures only reached the high 20s."

Essex says the IBEW is respected in Kentucky, where former Local 369 Business Manager Bill Finn is director of the state's building trades, and former president Scotty Pulliam is on the steering committee of Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care. "We were asked to hold the banner because of our respect," says Essex.

"If we want a health care system that is competitive with other industrialized countries, it needs to be single-payer," says Pulliam, who stood behind the banner that featured a quote from Rev. King on the "shocking and inhumane injustice" of inequality in health care.

Pulliam says while the Affordable Care Act has some good features, it doesn't go far enough to protect vulnerable Americans, including IBEW members who sometimes are forced to pay high premiums for their health care when unemployed.

With a right-to-work bill scheduled for a committee vote the next day, Local 369 members left the rally for a meeting with state House Speaker Pro Tempore Larry Clark, a member of the local, who has served in the legislature since 1984. (See " Influential Kentucky Legislator True to IBEW Roots," IBEW Journal, April 2006). The right-to-work bill failed 14 to 1, never making it out of committee.

"I went to the rally because labor unions have gotten a bad rap for years," says six-year journeyman inside wireman Tonya Thompson, a single parent who worked as a nonunion carpenter before joining the IBEW. "We're not out slashing tires and forcing members to join. We're neighbors fighting for good, safe jobs."

Thompson recalled her years of working for nonunion contractors under unsafe conditions without a voice on the job or a decent pension to help her in later years. "If Kentucky became a right to work state, I probably would leave the construction trade," she said.


Members of Louisville, Ky., Local 369 commemorated the 50th anniversary of a pivotal civil rights march in the city.