The Electrical Worker online
March 2015

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IBEW: Who We Are

Thank you very much for helping me explain to my friends and neighbors just what the IBEW means [through national television advertising campaign and television sponsorship of PBS programs NewsHour and Washington Week].

Before this, I only observed IBEW window stickers in Houston on the rear windows of Toyotas. Now I can show off my years of membership to the people who are unaware of what the IBEW is.

This gives me bragging rights, and I can spread them even farther than before due to the TV advertising presently going on.

I have been retired five years and intend to inform those around me just what my union is and what it is doing for the working class people in our country.

George Laiacona Jr., Local 728 retiree
Galveston, Texas

Been There, Done That

Having completed 60 years as an IBEW member, I was interested to read In the December 2014 edition of the "Electrical Worker" ["IBEW Offers Top-Notch Training"] that the IBEW has created a class to instruct electricians on becoming electrical contractors. This is long overdue. I did not see course content on overhead in business. I learned it the hard and expensive way.

When I first became a contractor in the 1970s as a master electrician, I had the knowledge and skills to bid and complete jobs, yet I was not making profits. I contacted the Small Business Administration for advice. Two retired gentleman who had run large corporations in the Midwest showed up one day to review my operations, much of which were kept in a large loose-leaf notebook.

At the time I had been in business about three months, and working 80 hours a week. They said that I had not been in business long enough to advise and that I should contact them in six months. I told them if I survived that long I would have figured it out somehow, and I did.

The problem was overhead, which I knew nothing about, so it was not included in my pricing. "Overhead" simplistically defined is anything you pay for that does not earn a return, such as office rent, telephones, secretaries, fuel and truck repairs, even postage stamps., etc. It turned out I had to keep a minimum of four electricians employed to meet my overhead.

As work assignments are handled through the hiring hall procedures, you finish a job and return to the hall and get another one. Sometimes you never even get to meet the management who write your paycheck, especially on large jobs. So classes on these subjects should be taught to the rank and file.

A long time ago a business agent once said to me, "To hell with the contractor. If he goes out of business, we will just send you to another job." Hopefully by now that attitude no longer exists and unions and contractors work as teams.

Howard Gelbman, Local 349 retiree

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.

Pitching In, Welcoming All

Regarding the article "At EWMC Conference, Young Workers Serve Community," [The Electrical Workers Minority Caucus and young workers' groups] are those that have been historically under-represented within our union. White males are and have been the majority for decades ... it's not to alienate, it's to help those who have felt alienated in the past unify and organize within the IBEW. Also, any member can join these groups! You should!

Amber Ray, Local 269 member
Trenton, N.J.

Power Professionals

Local 3 IBEW electricians are the most talented in the world! I should know!! I'm a 38-year journeyman electrician in the "A" division!

Bobby Agrella, Local 3 retiree
New York