The Electrical Worker online
July 2015

index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Carol L. Fitzgerald

After 43 years in the IBEW, Second District International Representative Carol Fitzgerald has retired, effective March 1.

Sister Fitzgerald started at New England Telephone in 1959 during her senior year in high school. Fitzgerald set up Yellow Pages ads as a printer's clerk for nearly six years before transferring to the operators department. When the IBEW took over from the Federation of Telephone Workers in 1971, Fitzgerald became a member of Boston Local 2222, and was selected shop steward the next year.

In 1974, Fitzgerald transferred to Braintree, Mass., Local 2313 and two years later was elected business manager. She held the position until 1997.

"I stayed on the job because I enjoyed it. All of it," Fitzgerald said. "I felt it was an honor and I liked the bargaining. I always found it an interesting challenge to convince the other side of our way of thinking. That doesn't mean it worked all the time, but I enjoyed trying."

The telecommunications industry was radically transformed over the years Fitzgerald oversaw Local 2313, often in very difficult ways.

"In 1971 there were 40,000 organized workers, mostly women, working in telecom in New England. It is down around 6,000 or 7,000 now," Fitzgerald said. "When I started out it was the old cord board manually making connections and by the time I left automation was everywhere."

As the telecommunications industry consolidated, broke apart and consolidated again, Fitzgerald was consistently called on to represent the IBEW in negotiations. She chaired the New England Telephone bargaining committee from 1978 until 1997 as well as the AT&T bargaining committee from 1978 to 1994.

In 1989, former International President J.J. Barry nominated Fitzgerald for membership in the YWCA of the City of New York's Academy of Women Leaders as a "trailblazer" in recognition of her "leadership, achievement and contributions to the IBEW."

Barry later appointed her to serve on the resolutions committee for the 34th convention in 1996 and she served again at the 35th convention five years later.

After eight consecutive terms as business manager of Local 2313, Barry appointed Fitzgerald to be an international representative in the Second District in 1997 to help multiple New England telecom locals navigate the ever-changing industry.

After years of traveling where all she saw "was the inside of hotels," in retirement Fitzgerald said she intends "to see the rest of the country."

Please join us in honoring Sister Fitzgerald for her path-breaking career and tireless service to her brothers and sisters. We wish her a long, healthy and adventurous retirement.


Carol L. Fitzgerald

Orley Welker Jr.

We regret to report that retired Sixth District International Representative Orley Welker Jr. died on April 25 at the age of 87.

A native of Havana, Ill., Brother Welker attended the University of Illinois and Western Illinois University. He taught elementary school for two years, then went to work at Illinois Power Co. for 18 years. He was initiated into Springfield Local 51 in 1949, where he served on the executive board and the negotiating committee. He was assistant business manager from 1966 to 1971 and business manager/financial secretary from 1974 to 1979.

He served on the Fourth and Sixth District joint American Line Builders Apprenticeship Training Committee and as a member of the University of Illinois Labor Advisory Committee. Welker was appointed an international representative in 1979.

From 1951 to 1953 he served on active duty with the U.S. Air Force and then remained a member of the Air Force Reserves and the 183rd Tactical Fighter Squadron until 1980, when he retired as a colonel.

He served as officer in charge of the military honor guard at the 1965 funeral of prominent Democrat, diplomat, three-time presidential candidate and former Illinois governor, Adlai Stevenson II.

He retired from the IBEW in 1993.

Welker and his wife Verla enjoyed nature and traveling. They visited all 50 states, Mexico and Canada and toured Europe twice by train.

On behalf of the entire IBEW membership and staff, the officers send our condolences to Brother Welker's family.


Orley Welker Jr.