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August 2014

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Ricky Oakland

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill has appointed Ricky Oakland Special Assistant to the International President for Membership Development, effective July 1.

Brother Oakland was born in Langdon, N.D., and raised in Coos Bay, Ore, where he attended Marshfield High School. He joined Casper, Wyo., Local 322 in 1982, topping out of his apprenticeship in 1986 and going to work as a journeyman inside wireman on commercial, light industrial, instrumentation and construction jobs in the region's growing oil and gas industry. He was also a first-year apprentice instructor at the Wyoming JATC from 1986 to 1989.

Less than three years after getting his journeyman ticket, Oakland was appointed to the Local 322 executive board, and when the business manager was elevated to international representative in 1989, Oakland was appointed to fill the vacancy. He was re-elected five times, until his appointment as international representative in 2002.

As business manager, Oakland oversaw a near doubling of the membership, from 300 to just under 600. He says much of the growth came from top-down and bottom-up organizing including two of the largest electrical employers in the state and three rural electric associations as well as organizing new employees into an existing contract at a fourth.

"Organizing doesn't end when the election is won," Oakland said. "In right-to-work states, anyone and everyone in a unit can decide to resign anytime, so I have always understood that to be successful, unions have to keep earning trust and loyalty. Workers need to see the value of an organized workplace every day."

Oakland also served on the Wyoming State AFL-CIO executive board and the Casper area AFL-CIO central labor council. He was the vice president of the Wyoming Building and Construction Trades Council, and served on the Wyoming Health Funds Alliance and the Foundation for Fair Contracting.

In 1997, Brother Oakland was named labor leader of the year by the Wyoming state AFL-CIO.

Oakland was an international representative in the Construction and Maintenance Department for a year before being appointed director of the CIR/Bylaws and Appeals Department in 2003. CIR is a labor-management conflict resolution body for the IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Through the hard work of his predecessors and the battalion of organizers out in the field, membership and market share are on the rise since the depths of the recession. Oakland says his highest priority in the immediate future will be internal organizing, bringing in more people represented by the IBEW who are not currently members.

"To effectively build a union movement, with all the money and opposition we face, we have all got to be pulling in the same direction," Oakland said. "This isn't about dues; it's about having the strength to negotiate better contracts and supporting politicians who will fight for working families. We will continue to bring in new members and sign new employers, but when we get our hands around internal organizing, our membership will grow in leaps and bounds."

The IBEW officers, staff and membership wish Brother Oakland great success in his new position.


Ricky Oakland

Darrin Golden

International Representative Darrin Golden was appointed Director of the IBEW CIR/Bylaws & Appeals Department effective July 1. Golden, who was assigned to the department a year ago, replaces Ricky Oakland, who was promoted to Special Assistant to the International President for Membership Development.

"What drives me every day is that I have a great love and affection for this organization," said Golden, whose father is a 45-year member and whose brother is an organizer for Rockford, Ill., Local 364, Golden's home local. "I can't think of any better way to engage the industry than through CIR. I'm happy that President Hill has given me the opportunity to do it."

The Council on Industrial Relations facilitates the resolution of labor disputes in the trade. It is jointly sponsored by the IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Since its founding in 1920, CIR has resolved more than 8,000 labor/management disputes, helping eliminate the need for costly strikes. A panel of six IBEW leaders and six NECA representatives, which is co-chaired by senior representatives from each organization, meets four times a year to review, investigate, discuss and ultimately render legally-binding rulings on cases that parties could not amicably solve at the local level.

Golden was appointed to the panel in 2008 by former Sixth District International Vice President Jeff Lohman, who passed away in 2011. At the time, Golden had just been elected business manager of Local 364, where he has been a member since 1991.

"Being a panelist is very arduous," he said. "We study cases, read both sides of the disagreement and we have to do what the local parties could not. We have to reach a unanimous ruling and we can't come away without a decision. There is a lot of give and take in each case, and you try to find the just decision. It's a great organization and structure that we have, and it's unique to our industry."

Each local union is also required by law and by the IBEW Constitution to have a set of bylaws, which are crafted at the local level. The CIR/Bylaws & Appeals Department offers a process for local unions to amend or alter their bylaws in accordance with the policies and procedures set forth by the International President.

Golden brings a long educational resume to his new position, in addition to his experience as an organizer and negotiator with his home local. A graduate of the National Labor College, Golden earned his bachelor's degree in union leadership and administration. He later earned his Master of Public Administration from the University of Baltimore and attended Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation, where he learned bargaining tactics and strategies alongside both labor leaders and company executives. Golden also served as JATC instructor in Illinois for eight years and graduated from the National Training Institute for Apprenticeship Instructors at the University of Tennessee.

Golden served on active duty as an Aviation Electronics Technician and Naval Aircrewman for four years in the Navy, before starting his apprenticeship in 1991. He spent another four years as a Naval Aircrewman in the Naval Reserves while working toward journeyman status and using the G.I. Bill to finance community college classes at night.

In his spare time, Golden enjoys hunting, fishing and coaching basketball. He and his wife Tracy have three children.

On behalf of the entire staff and membership, the officers wish Brother Golden great success in his new position.


Darrin Golden

Jim Tomaseski

IBEW Safety Department Director Jim Tomaseski retired effective July 1.

A native of East St. Louis, Ill., Tomaseski joined Newport News, Va., Local 905 in 1973, entering a lineman apprenticeship at Virginia Electric Power, now Dominion Virginia Power.

Serving as Local 905's business manager for three terms, Tomaseski says, "Some co-workers at the power company had experienced awful accidents. I knew that safety on the job needed more attention and developed a passion for protecting the lives and well-being of our members."

In 1993, Tomaseski, who attended the University of South Carolina and the George Meany Center for Labor Studies, was assigned to the Utility Department at the International Office.

One of his first tasks was serving on the electrical protection committee of the American Society for Testing and Materials. He also represented the union reviewing and updating the National Electrical Code.

"The NEC is the root of protecting our members from the dangers of energized circuits and I got involved right away," says Tomaseski, who also helped negotiate contracts in the utility branch.

In 2001, Tomaseski was assigned as IBEW's safety director. While working as a liaison to OSHA and helping to write improved work rules, he began to concentrate more attention on developing joint programs between employers and the union to improve safety while, simultaneously, maintaining or improving productivity.

"I think we've made tremendous progress on safety," says Tomaseski. While efforts have primarily focused on electrical workers, all branches of the union have benefited.

The number of fatalities and serious accidents has dropped. Improved fall protection standards and equipment have been implemented.

"We are seeing less career-ending falls than we had in the past, but even though we've done well, our commitment needs to continue to find better ways to fix problems. There are still 15 workplace fatalities a day in America's workplaces," he says.

Brother Tomaseski plans to stay involved as a workplace safety advocate in retirement. "I look forward to getting out in the field and talking to our members and signatory contractors," he says.

Retirement, says Tomaseski, will also give him more time to play golf and enjoy his family. He just bought a new bow to spend more time out in the woods during hunting season.

On behalf of the staff and membership, the officers send our congratulations to Brother Tomaseski and wish him a long, healthy and prosperous retirement.


Jim Tomaseski

Dave Mullen

International Representative David Mullen was appointed Director of the IBEW Safety and Health Department effective July 7. He replaces former Director Jim Tomaseski, who has retired.

Mullen's experience advocating for safe work practices began almost immediately upon joining Downers Grove, Ill., Local 15 in 1984. As an employee at Powerton Coal Fired Plant — now owned by Exelon — Mullen's first task as a station laborer was to help solve a potentially risky situation.

"The reason I got hired there was because it blew up twice," Mullen said. Once pulverized, the type of coal used as fuel in the plant could — and did — spontaneously combust. To fix it, the company upped its hiring to bring in new workers to clean the plant. "Our first job was to, as they said, 'sweep, suck or wash'" the coal particles out of the facility, he said.

With cooperation, workers and management were able to stem the tide of any future challenges. For Mullen, that's a concrete example of why power plants need the best trained, most highly-skilled work force. "The IBEW has a say-so in all the safety committees, and that's a huge thing for employees," he said. "Where do you get the best ideas from? You get them from the workers."

In 1994, Mullen moved to Exelon's Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois to work as a plant operator. There, his engagement in union affairs widened by serving as shop steward for the operating department for five years. He later was selected to be chief steward of the 350-employee facility.

Mullen was appointed business representative for the local's nuclear division in 2007. Local 15 counts five operating nuclear power plants in its jurisdiction — the largest of any local in the U.S. "We were able to make a lot of improvements for workers," he said.

In 2009, International President Edwin D. Hill appointed Mullen to be an international representative for the union's Utility Department at the IBEW's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Mullen has since helped union leaders reach out to lawmakers to work toward common-sense, bipartisan solutions regarding grid reliability, environmental regulations and more. He is also working to amend the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's practices on plant access to ensure both workplace fairness and safety.

As Director of the Safety and Health Department, Mullen will help assess and revise policy for the American National Standards Institute and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — two organizations that help insure workplace protections — as well as other groups.

"There's a need to have the safest work practices possible in all our branches. I look forward to using what I know to build on past successes," he said.

In addition to his experience on various safety committees at the Exelon plants, Mullen said his practical know-how was boosted by studying arbitration and labor negotiations at the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State.

In his spare time, Mullen enjoys riding motorcycles, watching sports and listening to and creating music. Mullen and his wife, Belgin, live in Arlington, Va. Together, the two have five children and seven grandchildren.

"I'm going to work hard to do the best job I can for the Brotherhood," Mullen said.

On behalf of the entire staff and membership, the officers wish Brother Mullen great success in his new position.


Dave Mullen

Ann Miller

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill has appointed Ann Miller Director of the Political/Legislative Affairs Department, effective June 16.

Miller will take over a political operation that has become one of the most influential labor voices on Capitol Hill. The IBEW political action committee raised more than $11 million during the 2012 election cycle, putting it in the top 20 among all PACs. She will lead a seasoned staff of grassroots organizers, issue advocates and analysts with the expertise and the relationships to get IBEW members heard.

Miller was born and raised in Wakefield, Mass., northwest of Boston. Although neither of her parents were union members, all six of her siblings have been union members their entire working lives. Miller has been a political analyst for the IBEW since the beginning of the year.

After graduating from Mount Holyoke College in 1985, Miller went to work in Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's Boston office as the secretary to the office director, Barbara Souliotis. Souliotis was the first person Kennedy hired, and the only person who worked with Kennedy his entire 47-year political career.

"Ann is very bright and has a great personality," Souliotis said. "Senator Kennedy felt very deeply that relationships matter in politics. Ann saw up close the political importance of connecting personally with people."

After a year in Boston, Miller transferred to the D.C. office and became Kennedy's scheduler and in 1987, his personal secretary. In 1992, Miller reprised her role as personal secretary for incoming secretary of labor, Robert Reich, a man Miller called "another true champion for workers." When Reich left after Clinton's first term, Miller also left, joining the AFL-CIO for a brief stint as then-President John Sweeney's scheduler. She then joined the newly formed Alliance for Retired Americans, a grass roots organization of retired union members.

In 2003, Miller joined the political staff of the AFL-CIO as special assistant to the new political director, Karen Ackerman. Miller was the federation's primary point of contact for candidates running for office and the Democratic National Committee. This meant reminding labor-endorsed candidates of the importance of organized labor on Election Day and holding them to their promises once they were in office.

"Sometimes it was as simple as a phone call to remind them that holding a fundraiser at a nonunion hotel was a very poor idea," Miller said.

More often it was strategizing with candidates, helping state and local federations find the resources they needed to be effective in the many, smaller elections that can be crucial to the lives and futures of working families.

In 2011, Miller was promoted to assistant political director at the AFL-CIO, where she served until her move to the IBEW. She said she had always been impressed by the IBEW members she met out in the field and their willingness to stand up and be heard, especially on issues that weren't just their own.

"When the lines were long in Cleveland on election night and we needed someone to get coffee and pizza to those freezing people so they would stay to vote, I knew who would get out there and get it done," Miller said. "The IBEW gets it done."

After her appointment, Miller joined Washington D.C., Local 121, which represents federal employees including workers at the Government Printing Office and the Architect of the Capitol's office. Miller said getting her IBEW card was a highlight of her career, a moment she'll never forget, like praying the rosary with Rose Kennedy at the compound in Hyannisport.

"I felt legit. I've been in the labor movement my whole career, but this is the first time I've had my card and my local," Miller said. "The membership is fiercely proud. It is an identity for hundreds of thousands of people, and I feel a tremendous honor and responsibility but it is also very cool."

The IBEW officers, staff and membership wish Sister Miller success in her new position.


Ann Miller

Dennis Phelps

International Representative Dennis Phelps has been appointed director of IBEW Government Employees Department effective July 1. Nearly 70,000 members are served by the department.

A native of Charles County, Md., Brother Phelps joined Washington, D.C., Local 26 in 1970 as a residential apprentice. In 1978, he began working in the public sector as an electrician at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in the district and eventually moved to the Government Printing Office, where he joined Washington, D.C., Local 121.

Within a few months after joining Local 121, Phelps began serving as shop steward. In 1990, he was elected president and business manager of the local, then also representing members at the Bureau of Engraving.

"Our local was faced with changes in working conditions and constantly having to defend our status as one of the few bargaining units in the federal sector which negotiate wages apart from the government's general classifications," says Phelps.

The federal government had agreed to recognize local unions bargaining over wages at the printing office and the Bureau of Engraving to allow wages for skilled workers to be competitive with those in the private sector, thus stabilizing its workforce.

Phelps joined the successful 15-year court fight to defend the right of workers at the Bureau of Engraving to maintain that bargaining status after the Reagan administration attempted to force workers to follow the federal model.

Later, during the Clinton administration, there was talk about privatizing work at the Government Printing Office, publishers of the daily Congressional Record and the Federal Register.

"I spent months on Capitol Hill lobbying against privatization, telling political leaders it would not be economically feasible and would put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy," says Phelps.

In 2007, Phelps was appointed international representative. He helped administer the move of electricians employed by the Architect of the Capitol and those working at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology from the jurisdiction of Local 26 into Local 121, increasing the bargaining unit to 150 members.

Active in Charles County politics, Brother Phelps served for eight years on the Democratic Central Committee, including two years as chair. He has participated in the campaigns of several successful candidates at all levels of government.

For four years, Phelps served on the board of directors of Jude House, a substance abuse recovery program, and two years as president.

"I look forward to more vigorous internal organizing in government workplaces where IBEW already represents members and improved external efforts, too," Phelps said. "None of this will be easy because the U.S. government is its own nationwide right-to-work state, but we can succeed."

Phelps serves as an alternate delegate on the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Department of Labor's Federal Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and an alternate member of the Department of Defense's wage-setting committee.

Phelps represents IBEW in the United Defense Workers Coalition and the Federal Workers Alliance. The Government Employees Department includes nearly 7,000 members working in shipyards in Virginia, Mississippi, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Connecticut and Canada.

On behalf of the staff and members, the officers wish Brother Phelps much success in his new position.


Dennis Phelps