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November 2015

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Jon F. Walters

Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Jon F. Walters, who retired in 2008 after a 48-year IBEW career, died on Sept. 20 at his home in Blackfoot, Idaho. He was 73.

Brother Walters had been a member of Pocatello Local 449 since 1960 and became its business manager in 1977. He was elected the Eighth District International vice president in 1982. He was named international secretary-treasurer in 2005 and was elected in 2006 at the IBEW convention in Cleveland.

In that role, Walters helped establish the National Electrical Contractors Association/IBEW Family Medical Care Plan. He also was a leader in establishing union-wide the Code of Excellence program, a commitment to quality work that he pioneered in the Eighth District.

"The Code of Excellence elevated the work of all our members and remains the standard we strive for today," International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. "Jon's role in establishing it was invaluable, along with the many other leadership positions he took to improve the lives of workers. He will be missed."

Willy Kniffen, Walters' son-in-law, said President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill and Secretary-Treasurer Salvatore J. Chilia visited Walters two days before his death.

"No matter who he met, they just felt like they knew him forever, even if they only had known him for a few minutes," said Kniffen, an IBEW organizer. "He was that kind of person. He truly loved the IBEW. He said on many occasions that without the IBEW, he would have been nothing. He was just a true union tradesman and a great family man."

Ted Jensen succeeded Walters as Eighth District international vice president after Walters became secretary-treasurer. Jensen said Walters was nearing retirement and called the decision to move to Washington "the hardest of his life," but he made a commitment to Hill to install the new health care plan.

IBEW members, no matter their standing or what sector they worked in, could always take solace in knowing he was taking their thoughts into account, Jensen said.

"Jon was never as concerned about his position or opinion or condition as he was about the lifting up of others," said Jensen, now retired. "He had a way of bringing everyone into a conversation and taking into account their opinions."

Jensen noted that he also succeeded Walters as both president and business manager of Local 449.

"I always felt like I was following in Jon Walters' footsteps, but never in his shadow," he said. "He never led me astray. That's the greatest compliment I can give him."

The IBEW Political Action Committee raised between $7 million and $10 million during each year of his tenure as secretary-treasurer, making it the top union political action committee in the nation. As vice president, he served as IBEW liaison to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

A native of Spokane, Wash., Walters lived in Idaho for most of his life and returned there following his retirement. He and his wife Theresa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. He is survived by her and three daughters: Michele, Nichole and Candice; and five grandchildren.


Jon F. Walters

Robert P. Klein

After 41 years in the IBEW, Tenth District International Vice President Robert P. Klein retired, effective Oct. 31.

"I felt the time was right for me to step aside and I am leaving with a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing the Tenth District has good leadership in place both on the district and local level," Brother Klein said. "I have had an outstanding career and I'm blessed to have met and worked with some of the finest individuals one could ever have the pleasure to be around. I want to be remembered for what I stood for and strived to maintain throughout my career: integrity, always being honest and keeping the interest of our members at heart."

Brother Klein was initiated into Chattanooga, Tenn., Local 846, in 1974. He topped out as a lineman in 1981, working for 20 years at the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, a city-owned utility. He was chosen as chief steward of the overhead line department in 1984.

Klein was elected president of Local 846 in 1988 and re-elected in 1991. When Local 846 merged with Chattanooga Local 175, Klein left his job at the utility and came on staff at the local before being appointed an international representative in 1998 by then-International President J.J. Barry.

Klein took over as the service representative for the 17 locals with members employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Nearly 5,000 members go to work each day at the TVA and it is one of the largest and most important partners of the IBEW. While working in the Tenth District, Klein was elected in 2001 as president of the Tennessee Valley Trades and Labor Council. He held the position until July 2015.

In 2003, then-International President Edwin Hill appointed Klein to serve as the Tenth District international vice president covering Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, an entirely right-to-work district. He was elected Tenth District International Vice President at the 37th and 38th international conventions.

"You can't beat up companies and threaten work actions if you want to protect your workers. You have to work differently and he was exceptional at it," said Jim Hunter, director of the IBEW Utility Department. "He is a lot like [former International President] Hill. He is about the nicest person you ever met and you would not get the impression that he was a real fighter, but he was. Bobby is very humble, but he is a strong leader who protected his membership."

The remainder of Klein's term will be filled by International Representative Brent E. Hall.

"I can't say enough about Bobby Klein. You're not going to find a finer person," Hall said. "I told somebody the other day, 'Of course you're honored for the IEC to appoint you, but I'm even more honored that Bobby said, 'I think you can take my place.' That's something."

Klein resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee with his wife Sharon.


Robert P. Klein

Brent E. Hall

Former Tenth District International Representative Brent E. Hall became Tenth District vice president on Oct. 31 following the retirement of Robert P. Klein.

The Memphis, Tenn. native was initiated into Local 1288 in January 1985. A lineman for Memphis Light, Gas and Water, Hall began his apprenticeship as a groundman and left nearly 18 years later as a crew leader.

Unusually, Hall was nominated to the local's executive board in 1989 as an apprentice. By the time of the election a month later, however, he had topped out as a journeyman lineman and served on the board for six years.

During his time at the municipal utility, Hall helped negotiate three contracts and helped lead Local 1288's effort to fight off the company's sale by a Memphis mayor determined to privatize.

In 1995, he began the first of his two terms as the local's president, serving until 2001 when he was appointed international representative.

"I got into the union movement at such a young age because of my dad," Hall said. "He was president and business manager of the Amalgamated Transit Union local in Memphis, so union was all I knew growing up."

At Local 1288, Hall put that knowledge to use, serving on the joint apprenticeship and training committee, safety committee, the Memphis Labor Council and chairing the local's United Way drive. He also served on the Resolutions Committee at the IBEW's 36th Convention in San Francisco.

As international representative for the last 14 years, Hall has served under Vice President Klein, servicing locals in central and eastern Tennessee. During that time, he served 10 years on the state's Prevailing Wage Commission and sat on Gov. Phil Bredesen's Roundtable committee, a collection of community leaders that advised the state's chief executive on important policy matters.

Hall helped to lead the unsuccessful effort to preserve 250 IBEW manufacturing jobs at the award-winning Sparta, Tenn., Philips manufacturing plant, which closed in 2012.

"That was probably the low point of my time in this job," Hall said. "We worked so hard to keep that plant open—from the workers on the ground to the international office—but it was it was like fighting an unknown."

Reflecting on the path that led him to his new job as vice president, Hall credited his family first. "You can't do any of this without the support of your family," he said, thanking his wife, Teresa, and his children, Chloe, 21, and Collin, 25, who just topped out as a journeyman electrician as a member of Nashville, Tenn., Local 316.

The IBEW officers, staff and members wish Brother Hall much success in his new position.


Brent E. Hall