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January 2017

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Article 'Gives Me Hope'

I am from Hawaii, born and raised. I'm surrounded by ex-cons. Pretty much my whole family, both maternal and paternal, are either ex-cons, have a drug habit or live within federal poverty means. Poverty hit us hard here in Waimanalo. Federal and state statistics have documented it for years. Sadly, the native Hawaiian people suffer the most with poverty here.

Today, in the October/November issue of The Electrical Worker, I read "The IBEW Saved His Life, Now He Saves Others'The IBEW Saved His Life, Now He Saves Others'" [about a Los Angeles program that offers a second chance at a career in the trades for at-risk and proven-risk residents]. I read a story like this and it gives me hope.

I will put this article up for my family when they say it can't be done. Mahalo for seeing that everyone is not given the same opportunities that others get, simply because of where we were born. Our life may have been filled with violence and crime but that is what we were raised with. Yet, in that mix we were also raised with love.

With the right guidance, all that heart we put into crime, getting the drugs we need, or getting that free state/federal money, can also be applied to be an honest, law- abiding, contributing citizen. Thank you for seeing that. I wish you could come and bring your 2nd CALL nonprofit here.

Jessica Spencer, daughter of an IBEW member
Waimanalo, Hawaii

A Great Career

I joined Bay City, Mich., Local 692 on August 7, 1978. My acceptance was partly due to the construction of the Midland Nuclear Powerhouse, with the joint apprenticeship committee accepting 20 applicants in the program. Later I was told I had a "snowball's chance in hell" of getting in. By luck or just living right, I was No. 20.

My first training assignment was at the nuclear plant. I was fortunate to work with brothers and sisters from all over the map. I experienced a great understanding and respect for the IBEW for the knowledge and lessons I received from these members. Then I worked for a small, IBEW-minded contractor, Clayton Electric. I worked at a wood-burning powerhouse at Midland's Dow Corning.

After topping out, I had the opportunity to travel. This allowed me to add to my pension, keep my insurance and experience life with a suitcase. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I ran for examining board in 1983, in 1992 I ran for vice president, and after two runoffs, I was declared the winner. In 1993, I was appointed the local union's president and served for 17 years. I got involved with the Democratic Party, labor council and in the community. In 2013 I was elected business manager.

I can't express enough my gratitude for the experience and the people I met in those years. Three years — or should I say 38 years — went faster than I could imagine. I thank my wife Lisa and my family, who put up with me because I know it seems like I put them second behind the union.

Jack Tobias, Local 692 member
Bay City, Mich.


Convention Coverage Kudos

Congratulations on the coverage of our 39th International Convention in the St. Louis. It was like being there and spells out a bright future for all members.

As a retiree since 2007, I always read the majority of the Electrical Worker paper as it keeps me involved with the pulse of our trade.

Active or inactive, all members are the organization's best salespeople. Reading "North of 49°" is a trip down memory lane for me as it helps me remember my high school French language classes.

James Rothenberger, Local 143 retiree
Harrisburg, Pa.