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February 2015

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Hill Accepts Social Justice Award in Italy

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill was presented with the Golden Eagle Award, one of Italy's highest honors, the first American ever to receive the award.

Bestowed by a nonprofit organization, the Golden Eagle is recognized by the Italian government as one of that nation's most prestigious honors, akin to the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States. The awards are given to a select few individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their respective fields and to society in general. Hill received the award for social justice at a ceremony on Nov. 7 in Assisi. Other honorees this year included the Sacred Convent of St. Francis of Assisi for the "peace in the world" award, and popular Italian actress Eleonora Brigliadori, for film and culture.

Hill was recognized for "… his best efforts over 50 years in support of workers and their employers, strengthening progressively professional and economic stability and conditions for the well-being of families." Also noted were the union leader's personal and professional relationships with the Italian electrical workers union FLAEI-CISL and his efforts "in a difficult globalized context" to initiate relations with Italian companies operating in the U.S.

Accepting the award on behalf of 750,000 IBEW members throughout North America, Hill cited the example of St. Francis, in whose honor the current Pope took his name.

"The spirit of St. Francis is badly needed in today's world," Hill said. "Growing inequality and violence threatens all that we stand for. And we must continue to stand together to be a force for good."


President Hill is presented with one of Italy's highest civilian honors, the Golden Eagle.

Union Plus College Benefits

Unions need lawyers. They negotiate contracts, defend targeted workers and generally support people standing up for their rights.

The best union lawyers often started out as rank-and-file members themselves and then answered a call to the bar.

People like Middleton, Mass., Local 2321, Carly McClain. She's been a member of the IBEW for nearly seven years, but she never let go of a childhood dream of being a lawyer.

"My heart is in labor law," McClain said. "Law can be a real vehicle for social change."

No matter how committed a first-year law student might be about using their degree to fight for the 99 percent, a debt load that large makes that nearly impossible when they graduate three years later.

"I want to be part of the process of making life better for America's workers," McClain said. "My belief that workers need union representation was solidified, as was my understanding that student loan debt today is basically unavoidable."

After her husband, Leveille, graduated from school she started looking for law schools that had night classes so she could continue as an organizer for Local 2321.

McClain is luckier than most. She received a merit-based scholarship to attend New England Law School, which will lower her debt to "only" $100,000.

But as an IBEW member, McClain is eligible for the Union Plus card, which issues $125,000 a year in scholarships to eligible members in college or graduate school. McClain received a $2,000 scholarship.

Since 1991, Union Plus has distributed more than $3.5 million in scholarships to America's working families thanks to its credit card program, which is critically important because it provides royalties that the AFL-CIO and its unions use to fund important legislative, political, organizing and other programs of the labor movement.

Union Plus also offers the Student Debt Eraser, which helps union members who have a Union Plus credit card, mortgage or insurance policy pay down their student loan debt with grants of $500.

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, or to learn more about the Union Plus Scholarship, please visit


Middleton, Mass., Local 2321 member Carly McClain never let go of a childhood dream of being a lawyer.

International and Local Communicators Win 2014 Awards

IBEW's International Office and local union communicators scored big at the 2014 Labor Media Awards presentation in Washington, D.C. in December.

Sponsored by the International Labor Communications Association, the yearly awards honor writing, video and Web-based work informing members and others about the mission, challenges, victories and defeats of organized labor.

"I am extremely proud that IBEW members took away more awards this year than any other labor organization," says International President Edwin D. Hill. "The contest's judges help to validate our union's investment, not just in setting the highest standards to keep our members informed, but in projecting our values and accomplishments to those outside our ranks."

The Max Steinbock Award, ILCA's highest honor, was won by Eric Wolfe, communications director of Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 for his story, "Brother's Keeper," originally published in the local's Utility Reporter. Wolfe has been a frequent award winner over the last decade.

Wolfe's story outlines the local's efforts to improve safety on the job for linemen and others after a series of workplace fatalities. He describes the delicate methods employed by safety stewards to convince workers and their supervisors to correct unsafe practices, while simultaneously convincing employers to place improving the overall safety culture ahead of disciplining individuals.

In remarks at the awards banquet, Wolfe said, "We know that unions are about power, about strength in numbers. But at a deeper level I think our strength comes from caring, caring about the Walmart worker, caring about the fast-food worker, caring about the sweatshop worker — caring about the brother who dies in a trench or falls off a pole."

John Moyle, St. Louis Local 1 press secretary, produces Powercast, a popular website, for the local. Moyle won a first-place award, two second-place awards and a third place prize for a profile of a Local 1 electrician, Rodney Cook, who, along with his wife Gretchen, founded Mission: American Gratitude, a program to welcome home veterans honorably discharged from the armed services.

The IBEW International Office Media Department took home 10 first-place awards, five second-place awards and seven third-place awards in categories ranging from "best design for newspapers" and "best profile" to "short video promos" to "best analysis."

A promotional video, a 30-second national commercial aired during NFL broadcasts, "IBEW — It's About Growing A Community," won a first place.

A first-place "best analysis" story from The Electrical Worker discussed political efforts to stop payroll fraud and worker misclassification from undermining wages, benefits and working conditions of IBEW and other building trades members.

"These awards demonstrate that IBEW's video, print and Internet productions are a team effort," says Media Department Director Mark Brueggenjohann. "Our staff is always looking for stories that give voice to members who do the hard work on their jobs and inside their local unions."

The ultimate goal, says Brueggenjohann, "is to help grow and build a stronger IBEW by spreading the lessons from our victories and defeats and renewing the spirit of solidarity that is the hallmark of our union."


Mark Brueggenjohann, IBEW Media Department director and Jim Spellane, former IBEW media advisor (second and third from left) accept award from ILCA executive committee members Howard Kling, left, Ed Finkelstein and ILCA President Kathy Cummings.


Eric Wolfe, communications director, Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245, accepted ILCA's highest award.

IBEW Showcases New Look in Cyberspace

With a crisp, modern appearance and updated features, the IBEW's official website at got an overhaul in January.

Visitors to the site are greeted with bright photos of members performing the varied work of the Brotherhood, tagged with the phrase "Power Professionals."

"In the 21st century, our website is the face we show to the world," said International President Edwin D. Hill. "People expect the best when they work with the IBEW — and this new site is a great representation of the kind of quality that bears the union's name."

Whether visitors are looking to join, find training, organize their workplace or read the latest news about the Brotherhood, the new is a one-stop shop for union information.

The homepage offers links to an updated local union directory, access to district websites and the "Local Connections" page.

The union's award-winning Media Department has its own revamped section, featuring improved layout and easier navigation for visitors on both desktop and mobile devices. News stories and video packages are now grouped according to branch, making it easier for members to get the latest coverage on their particular industry.

And visitors can access the latest issue of the Electrical Worker newspaper or look for older stories in the archives, which contain digital versions of every IBEW publication dating back to 1893.

Links to the IBEW's social media sites are available on each page. The IBEW has one of the most developed online profiles in the labor movement, with nearly 80,000 Facebook "likes," more than 18,000 followers on Twitter, a YouTube page that has received over 450,000 views and more.

The website was designed by the IBEW's Information Technology Department and the Media Department at the International Office in Washington, D.C.

image has a new look.

Second District Activist Lays
Groundwork for RENEW's Growth

Hundreds of Boston children had a brighter Christmas last year, thanks in part to young members at Local 103.

Thirty-three-year-old journeyman wireman Kevin Molineaux, who heads up the local's RENEW — or Reach out and Engage Next-gen Electrical Workers — committee, teamed with a handful of other young workers to spread cheer at the local's Christmas party on Dec. 7.

"We had 400 kids there to see Santa," Molineaux said. It was the first year the RENEW group had been appointed to the Christmas party committee. "We have a great group of young workers in Boston."

Now, Molineaux is on a quest to tap similar youth initiative throughout the Second District. As the new head of the district's RENEW group, he said he's laying the groundwork for amplifying young workers' voices across Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Molineaux said he would like to see a RENEW contingent at an upcoming Second District Progress Meeting. "I'm hoping to help show that RENEW members can step up and take even more of an active role."

The district's RENEW group hopes to have a social media presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter so that young workers can communicate and interact more effectively, Molineaux said. "Everyone I have talked with is excited about moving forward," he said. "We all care about the future of the IBEW and want to build on successes for the next generations."