August 2015
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Also In This Issue Utility Firings Probed
Protests draw federal inquiry read_more

Hard Work, Fair Pay
Overtime plan a victory
for workers read_more

Public Service
North of 49°

Community commitment
in Canada read_more

High Court Agrees
EPA's mercury rule threatens grid read_more

Hook, Line and Sinker
TV sharks take the bait read_more

New Tactics, Technology
Bottom up campaign wins
in south read_more

In New England,
A New Low for Telecom

Slashing jobs amid
service issues read_more

North of 49°
Members Enrich Canadian Leadership Tour read_more

Au nord du 49° parallèle
Les membres enrichissent la tournée du leadership canadien read_more






  Cover Photo

Offering Skills, Redemption
Angola Prison Program

Larry Thomas, a solid high school linebacker, shared the dream of millions: an NFL career and a big paycheck.

It wasn't an outlandish aspiration for a kid from Marrero, La., just outside New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi, population 36,000. The place is home to gridiron pros like Reggie Wayne, Kordell Stewart, Norman Jefferson, Ryan Clark and Marty Booker.

But football wasn't to be. The streets beckoned. Thomas landed in prison, sentenced in November 2012 to 10 years in Orleans Parish Prison for simple burglary by Judge Laurie White. But there, where seeds of second chances are seldom sown, Thomas had a good harvest.

In a state stained by one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, Thomas earned his way into an innovative program, designed five years ago by White and another judge that would lead him to New Orleans Local 130, changing his life's trajectory and restoring his dreams. He was released from prison in February and has since joined the IBEW as a construction wireman.

"I've been received with open arms by the IBEW and my employer," Thomas says. "They are showing me the ropes to make an honest living, and IBEW is a brotherhood coming together for one common goal. I'm learning how to live a better life, a Christian, godly life."

After being assigned to a pre-fab facility, Thomas has moved on to working as a construction wireman on the building of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center. "Larry is doing real well. He's conscientious and respectful. He's a quick learner and I just can't say enough good things about him," says his foreman J.W. Hazel.

"Re-entry" is today's lingo for programs that help prisoners rejoin life outside lockup. Experts say sound mentoring is indispensable.

For Thomas, that mentoring arose from an incongruous, seemingly impossible source of inspiration — the solemnly dedicated, skilled tradesmen at work on their own redemption: lifers at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, once considered the most brutal penal institution in the U.S.

It was an overwhelming frustration that led Orleans Criminal District Court judges White and Arthur Hunter, along with Angola's chief warden, Burl Cain, to establish Angola's re-entry program. Nationally-recognized, it pairs non-violent, non-sex-crime offenders with sentences of 10 years or less, like Thomas, with a skilled cadre among Angola's prisoners, more than 60 percent of whom are serving life sentences. read_more

  Local Lines

Officers Column Stephenson: On Energy,
the Supreme Court
Gets it Right read_more
Chilia: Health Care Challenges read_more

Transitions WireDanny L. Johnson read_more

Organizing WireW.Va. Republicans Ax State's Prevailing
Wage Law read_more

Organizing WireFirst Agreement Sets Pace at Rail Contractor read_more

Circuits'We Told Them the Truth' N.J. Comcast Techs Beat Back Decertification Vote;
Worker Misclassification: Unfair, Expensive and
All too Common;
RENEW Reaching New Heights in Rockies
In Ohio, the IBEW Spirit
of Giving read_more

LettersRecognizing Public Service;
Right or Wrong?;
Women on the Front Lines;
Best of luck, President Stephenson read_more

In MemoriamJune 2015 read_more

Who We AreIBEW Shows the World the New World Trade Center read_more


Change of Address