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December 2014

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FairPoint Strikers Win Community Support

In the midst of tight November polling between candidates running for public office in New England, another survey of citizens showed overwhelming support for nearly 2,000 members of the IBEW and CWA on strike at FairPoint Communications.

As the strike entered its third week and FairPoint readied to cut off health care benefits for striking workers, thousands of citizens expressed exasperation at the company's approach to bargaining.

FairPoint rejected a proposal containing more than $200 million in savings from the union, then declared an impasse on August 27.

"We're not looking to get rich, we're just looking to sustain our families, said Mike Gauthier, a FairPoint service technician and member of Montpelier, Vt., Local 2326. "We offered the company a compromise that would save them millions in health care costs, but they refused. We've got to stand up for our families and for good jobs."

Anyone looking to support the striking workers is encouraged to donate to the strike fund set up by IBEW System Council T-9 and CWA Portsmouth, N.H., Local 1400. All the money raised through the website at will be distributed to striking workers.


After rejecting every proposal from IBEW and CWA negotiators, FairPoint Communications declared an impasse on Aug. 27.

Calif. Members Sharpen Skills with Safety Training

"Be prepared." It's not just the Boy Scouts' motto — it's a good life philosophy. Especially for workers in the electrical trade.

At signatory contractor Par Electric in Santa Ana, Calif., Diamond Bar Local 47 member Mario Tapia says his company goes above and beyond to ensure that employees have critical life-saving skills such as CPR and first aid training.

"You never know what can happen in your work or in your day-to-day life," said Tapia, a general foreman and 13-year member.

Par electricians get retrained every year in CPR and first aid. While Tapia has never had to use his life-saving skills on the job, "I'll be ready to go" if the need arises, he said.

Over 380,000 sudden heart attacks occur each year, the American Heart Association reports. "Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival," the group stated on its website.


Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47 member Juan Velasquez practices CPR techniques.

EWMC Young Workers Aim High for Jan. Training, Service

Young workers who are a part of the IBEW's Electrical Workers Minority Caucus are setting an ambitious goal for the upcoming EWMC conference in Atlanta Jan. 13-18, before Martin Luther King Day.

As part of the conference, young workers will participate in a daylong summit sponsored by the EWMC's Reach out and Engage Next-gen Electrical Workers — or RENEW — initiative to sharpen their communication, technology and leadership skills.

"Last year, we had about 70 young members involved," said New York Local 3 member Wendell Yee, who is president of the EWMC young workers group and sits on the RENEW advisory committee. "This year, we're hoping to get at least 150."

Each annual EWMC conference includes workshops and trainings, along with a day of community service. "At last January's meeting in Kansas City, our young workers group helped with five projects across the area," said Yee, such as retrofitting an area school with fluorescent lighting, wiring a greenhouse at an after-school recreational center and more. The EWMC overall performed 19 projects.

With greater attendance comes greater participation in helping the wider community, Yee said, encouraging interested members to talk to their business managers about attending. "Let EWMC RENEW help invigorate your young worker members to take an active role in your local union and community."

For more information, visit, and "like" the EWMC's young workers Facebook page at The link is case-sensitive.

New IBEW Ad Premieres

Three years ago, the IBEW launched a national television advertising campaign with a simple goal: tell America who we are and what we do. Since then, hundreds of millions of people have seen the seven 30-second spots created by the IBEW Media Department during NFL games on CBS and Fox, 60 Minutes on CBS and throughout the day on CNN, Headline News and MSNBC.

This month, the eighth spot will begin running — first on CBS and, a month later, on Fox — and International President Edwin D. Hill said it marks a shift in the story the IBEW wants to tell America.

"In the beginning, the purpose was to introduce ourselves to the American people," he said. "Now, instead of just telling people what we do, we're telling people what we can do for them."

The new ad shares the look of some of the earlier ones, focusing on the smiling faces of IBEW members from across the country. As their images pass by, the narrator talks about those smiles "lighting up a room." Very quickly, however, the ad makes this promise about the IBEW, "Working with a Code of Excellence that guarantees the job will be done right, on-time and safely."

"We know it makes good business sense for a contractor to hire IBEW members. This is about making sure everyone else knows it too," Hill said.

The ad can be seen at, and began airing during NFL broadcasts on CBS Nov.2 and is set to air on Fox in December.


A still shot from the IBEW's eighth nationally broadcast commercial, which began airing Nov. 2.