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September 2014

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John R. Clarke

Third District International Executive Council member John Clarke retired effective Aug. 1 after more than four decades of service to the Brotherhood. Clarke has served on the IEC since 2007 and as business manager of Wheeling, W.Va., Local 141 since 1996.

While growing up in Wheeling, Brother Clarke spent much of his youth on construction sites with his father. "I was on a site off and on from the time I was 5 up until I joined the military," he said.

In the mid-1960s, after more than two years of college, Clarke found himself at a crossroads and decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. He went on to serve in Vietnam in 1969, performing electrical work and maintenance on helicopters.

After finishing his service, Clarke applied for an electrical apprenticeship at his hometown's local union hall. "From that point on, I got involved in whatever I could." Clarke went on to serve on the executive board and on committees involved in negotiations, safety and grievance procedures.

Clarke helped with organizing efforts as a volunteer for six years before coming on staff as a salaried organizer in 1994. He served as vice president and president before his election as business manager in 1996.

Clarke worked with other leaders and the membership to boost the general fund to a present level of $4.7 million. Doing that required an all-hands-on-deck approach to increasing the local's market share. "We had to get things headed in the right direction."

The biggest boon to the local has come from the rapidly growing natural gas industry. The rich Marcellus Shale gas deposit lies underground in the state's northern panhandle region. For the past three years, Local 141 has seen risks turn to rewards as they have become a vital partner to energy companies tapping the region's resources.

With the endorsement of the membership, Clarke worked with contractors to secure bids at a reduced rate to undercut nonunion competition. Though members would initially be working for lower pay, the gamble paid off. From an initial job in 2011 for Pennsylvania-based Chapman Corp., Local 141 members have since worked alongside hundreds of travelers building and maintaining plants that extract valuable liquids like ethane from the gas.

The local is operating at full employment, and work looks consistent through 2018, Clarke said.

"If members hadn't gone along, we would not be doing the work we did," Clarke said. "Our contractors eventually started raising wages at the request of the energy companies, since we'd proven ourselves on the jobs. We made sure that once we were there, we satisfied the customer. We're now getting 100 percent of the work."

International President Edwin D. Hill appointed Clarke to the International Executive Council in 2007. He filled the vacancy of International Secretary-Treasurer Sam Chilia, who had been appointed to serve as Fourth District International Vice President. Clarke represented members in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and his home state.

"It's definitely been an honor," Clarke said. "I appreciated my time on the council. It's a great group of people, and I thank President Hill for giving me this wonderful opportunity."

Clarke's position on the International Executive Council was reaffirmed by delegates at the 38th International Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2011.

As a member of the council, Clarke met at least four times a year with other representatives from seven other districts across the U.S. and Canada. At these meetings, and on other occasions at the request of President Hill, Clarke and the council members reviewed and approved International Office pension applications and payments, discussed current pending legal issues facing the Brotherhood and more.

Clarke officially retired as business manager of Local 141 on July 11. He said that the key to maintaining future union strength and density is a combination of civic engagement and political activism.

"You have to generate involvement, letting your neighbor and the community know you're a union member," he said. To this end, Local 141 has sponsored Wheeling's Christmas parade, members sit on various boards of organizations like hospitals and charities and local leaders work with politicians of all stripes to secure what's best for the membership. Clarke even serves as a board member of the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce.

In retirement, Clarke and his wife, Margaret, are preparing to move to Florida. They have two sons.

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Clarke an enjoyable and lengthy retirement.


John R. Clarke

James Burgham

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill has appointed Youngstown, Ohio, Local 64 Business Manager James Burgham, to fill the Third District International Executive Council seat left vacant by the retirement of John Clarke.

Brother Burgham became a member of Local 64 in 1981, and topped out as a journeyman inside wireman in 1984.

"Organized labor has always been in my family," Burgham said. "My grandfathers were in the mills and the mines. My dad, Jim, was a sheetmetal worker and my uncle, Bill Lyden, is a former business manager of Local 64."

Burgham said he applied for apprenticeships with both unions after his freshman year at Youngstown State.

"I heard from the IBEW first," he said.

Burgham quickly rose into the leadership of Local 64, starting with an appointment to the health and welfare trustee fund soon after finishing his apprenticeship, leading to an election win to the executive board in 1987. He was appointed president in 1992, elected in 1993 and then ran for business manager in 1996, a position he has been re-elected to six times.

Burgham is the secretary-treasurer for Ohio State Conference of the IBEW; board member of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO; president of the Southeastern Business Managers Association; secretary-treasurer of the Western Reserve Building Trades Council; and secretary-treasurer of the Tri-State Business Managers Association.

"I am proudest that we were able to keep Local 64 strong, maintaining our market share and expanding the contractor base, because the best part of the job is sending people out to work," Burgham said.

From 2005 to 2010, Burgham was a member of the Council on Industrial Relations, which arbitrates disputes between locals and signatory contractors.

"I come from a small local, but in my time on CIR I learned a lot about the challenges faced by large locals, all of which will be very important in this new position," he said.

Burgham will take over the IEC seat that represents Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia.

"Across the district, large or small local, we have a good deal in common, from the kinds of challenges we face from the nonunion sector to political challenges with right-to-work and prevailing rate issues," Burgham said.

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


James Burgham

Kevin E. Cash

Second District International Representative Kevin E. Cash retired effective July 1 after more than four decades of service to the IBEW.

"I always knew I wanted to work with my hands," says Brother Cash, who enrolled in the apprenticeship program at Dover, N.H., Local 490 out of high school in 1971, after some experience working with his father and brother in the field. Throughout his apprenticeship, he served in the National Guard and supported his wife and two young sons. Upon graduation, Brother Cash quickly assumed leadership roles on projects and became active in the local teaching JATC courses.

Those same teambuilding skills led to his election as president of Local 490 in 1992. After becoming business manager and financial secretary in 1998, Brother Cash wore "many different hats," helping secure work in his local's jurisdiction, while also focusing on organizing.

"It's all trying to make a better quality of life for families, that's what it's all about," Cash says.

Brother Cash was appointed as Second District International Representative by International President Edwin D. Hill in 2002. There was no such thing as "off the clock," says Cash, who dedicated his time to rallying for Congress to take action in unemployment and healthcare for working families while meeting with voters and candidates. Brother Cash says patience was critical when knocking on the doors of citizens in a state that often found it hard to relate to members of the labor movement.

Brother Cash also spent 15 years as the executive vice president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, and 14 as president of the New Hampshire Building Trades. He was appointed by the governor to the Workforce Opportunity Council and Advisory Committee on International Trade, serving on seven different committees.

In retirement, Brother Cash plans to head back to his roots, rebuilding and wiring a house on Silver Lake, near Dover, and spending time with his wife, Sheila, their two sons, Corey and Michael, and their three grandchildren.

Says Brother Cash: "I'm just starting out in this wonderful life."

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Cash a happy, healthy and enjoyable retirement.


Kevin E. Cash

Don Herzog

Eighth District International Representative Don Herzog retired effective July 1 after 40 years of service to the IBEW.

Brother Herzog was initiated into Billings, Mont., Local 532 in 1974. His father, Jim — now a 60-year member of the local — sparked his interest in the trade and was one of the main reasons Don decided to pursue a career as a journeyman wireman. "I really enjoyed the work, it was a better alternative to college and it paid more than most jobs out there," Herzog said.

He worked as an organizer and served on the local's negotiating committee and examining board before being appointed business manager in 1989. He was elected five more times.

Herzog said a memorable moment of his time leading the local was organizing a large picket outside of a nonunion construction site for a Kmart in Billings. "We sent a message to the contractor," he said. "With 50 people lined up around half of the block, it brought attention to our issue and was a success as far as the members voicing their opinion."

The local also built its first area training center in 1991. In Montana, the statewide JATC is based in Helena, nearly four hours away. "Having our own facility nearby allowed us to stay better trained on technology and code updates in the trade," Herzog said.

International President Edwin D. Hill appointed Herzog to the Eighth District staff in 2003, primarily to service Montana locals with mixed trade classifications. "In order to build a strong local, you need to bring in a variety of people from different branches," Herzog said.

Herzog said his top priorities were helping ensure financial success for members and contractors while increasing market share. "It was important to be a good listener," he said. "I learned early on to not just listen to our side, but to listen to all parties. Everybody has a different perspective, and you have to keep the industry in mind. That's how you continue to get work for the members."

Brother Herzog helped organize and win a first contract for dozens of employees at Glacier Electrical Cooperative, which provides power across northwest Montana and into parts of Alberta, Canada. Herzog also worked with professional and industrial organizers to win representation and a first contract for several clerical/technical support employees at Mid-Rivers Communications, a telephone and Internet service provider based in the state's northeast.

Herzog said that keeping local unions strong during times of political and economic turmoil requires strong relationships. "You have to really stay in touch with the locals and help in any way you can," he said.

Brother Herzog served in many roles with Montana's JATC, building trades council and other worker advocacy groups. He attended Eastern Montana College and Montana State University.

In retirement, Herzog said he looks forward to fishing, snow skiing, woodworking and travel. He lives with his wife, Patricia, in Helena. Their son, Brad, is a member of Anchorage, Alaska, Local 1547. Their daughter, Brooke, has a master's degree in social work and lives in Boise, Idaho.

On behalf of the membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Herzog a happy, healthy and enjoyable retirement.


Don Herzog