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August 2015

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Danny L. Johnson

After 42 years of service to the IBEW, Fifth District International Representative Danny Johnson has retired, effective Feb. 1.

Brother Johnson started working at GTE in 1973 after leaving the U.S. Army. He joined Tampa Bay, Fla., Local 824 and went to work as an in-house lineman.

Johnson became a steward in 1976, chief steward in 1979 and nine years later a member of the executive board.

"It happened the same way every time I took a new position," Johnson said. "I would be complaining about something and say 'Someone needs to do something about this,' and the person I was complaining to would say I needed to step up."

Johnson came on staff as a business agent for Local 824 in 1990 and a year later was appointed assistant business manager. Seven years later, he ran for, and won, his first term as business manager.

Johnson said his most important accomplishment as business manager came in his second year on the job when he convinced GTE to roll the separate and dissimilar contracts with GTE, GTE Communications, GTE Data and GTE Supply into a single deal.

"It made negotiating cheaper and enforcing the contract cheaper, and that was important as our industry was really shrinking," Johnson said.

Johnson was appointed a Fifth District international representative in 2005, and was succeeded as business manager at Local 824 by current International Representative Robert Prunn.

"He was like a father to me," Prunn said. "I would really say I followed in his footsteps. Everyone who had been in leadership at Local 824 has."

Prunn said Johnson's greatest moment as business manager was the negotiation with GTE's successor Verizon over the introduction of their fiber optic voice and data service. The company had reluctantly agreed to keep the work under the IBEW contract, but demanded the right to pick the first few rounds of employees who would get trained.

"We'd lost so much in our industry that seniority was really one of the only things left for people, so there was a lot of resistance," Prunn said.

Johnson said he was ready to retire in 2005 when former International President Edwin D. Hill asked him to become an international representative. He said yes because he wanted to learn more about the variety of employers and contracts in the IBEW. Over 10 years, Johnson said he negotiated over 200 contracts in telecommunications and utilities and even in several paper mills owned by the notoriously anti-worker Koch brothers.

"It was awesome," Johnson said. "Every place I went, I got to learn their world."

Johnson served as vice president of the Florida AFL-CIO from 1998 to 2005, sat on the Florida Electric Workers Association executive board from 1997-2005 and was labor chair on the executive committee of the Greater Tampa Bay United Way.

"When you first join, you can't really see what brotherhood means or what it looks like," he said. "But by the end I see it for what it is. I have been around a lot of unions in my life and this is without question the greatest union in the country and it was an honor to work for President Hill and the IBEW."

Please join us in thanking Brother Johnson for his service to his brothers and sisters.


Danny L. Johnson