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September 2014

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The Value of Union

On Feb. 26, my life flashed before my eyes as I fell 12 feet from a Digger Derrick truck in Rochester, N.Y. I knew I was blessed to have an amazing family and group of friends, but I didn't know the true magnitude of love that surrounded me. Along with the best medical treatment I received, if it weren't for my friends, family, colleagues from JF Electric and electrical contractors from around the area and Syracuse Local 1249, I'm not sure I would have come out so strong.

After the fall I was left heavily sedated and on life support for three weeks due to a fractured skull. While my wife and two daughters sat by my side, they were also burdened with life's day-to-day tasks. Mark Lawrence and Dan Defoe, from Local 1249, took immediate action to help my girls. They made it so my family could focus on my recovery and not the paperwork. You never think you'll be the recipient of gifts from the union, but this support was critical when so much was unknown. My wife and daughters are especially grateful to the union and everyone else who prayed, sent cards, sent gas cards, etc. ... You all gave them strength.

My accident has also made me realize the importance of safety training. My colleagues, David Yoeman, Marty Foit and Jason Neshi, immediately applied the safety techniques they've learned to ultimately save my life. Our safety instructor, Richard "Frenchie" French, gave these men the tools they needed to help me. While you hope to never implement these techniques, you never know. Dave, Marty and Jason didn't hesitate and I'm so lucky to have had them by my side.

It's been six months since the accident and I'm home with my family, waiting for my first grandchild to arrive. I'm still battling some scars and building back strength, but all things considered I'm doing well. I've been a lineman for 40 years. My blood still ignites when a good thunderstorm comes roaring through, but I've also learned that life is precious. You only get one, so right now I'm focusing on what's important. I'm blessed to be part of a union, a community who protects and serves its members.

Allen Harter, Local 1249 member
Syracuse, N.Y.


Allen Harter and family. From left: Lindsey, Kathy, Al and Kristen.

Business Unionism?

I'm disturbed by the increasing "business unionism" I'm seeing from our International Office.

I disagree with the IO's stand on Keystone XL and I suspect a majority of IBEW members do.

In the July 31 issue of "Investor's Business Daily," a magazine rarely supporting working people or their unions, the IBEW was praised for opposing the Obama administration's green agenda.

Lately the parroting of the utility industry's rage against the EPA's Clean Power Plan has left me astonished. Not only is the IBEW using flawed, corporate generated talking points but it is working against the interests of our members and our members' families.

Cleaning up our most polluting industries will not only create more good IBEW jobs long term, but it will create tens of thousands of short term construction jobs and guarantee our families more healthy communities.

There are no jobs on a dead planet and I encourage our International Office to live up to the forward thinking of our founders.

Allen Shur, retired Local 569 business manager
San Diego

[Editor's Note: Our job as a union is to represent the interests of all workers in the electrical industry. IBEW members are to be found in nearly every sector of the energy economy, from renewables like solar and wind to coal- and gas-fired power plants. The health of the entire energy sector is not only of interest to utility CEOs, but to our members and their families as well. We strongly support efforts to transition to a cleaner energy economy and are proud of locals like 569 that have helped make solar a serious energy alternative for consumers and businesses. But the EPA's clean coal plan is a poorly thought out plan that will costs jobs, disrupt the economy and have a minimal effect on global carbon emissions. And there is nothing forward thinking about that.]

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.

Union Proud

The IBEW has always been at the forefront defending worker rights and family values. Ed Hill and his staff would not have it any other way. The Right Choice always!

Gordon Young, Local 3 member
Flushing, NY