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November 2017

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Lawrence Davis

Third District International Representative Lawrence "Larry" Davis retired Aug. 1, capping a career of more than 40 years with the IBEW.

Born in Texas, Brother Davis was initiated into Geneva, N.Y., Local 840 in 1974 as a journeyman inside wireman after serving in the Navy from 1966 to 1970 as an electrician's mate. In 1986, he was elected business manager, a position he held until 1998, when Local 840 was amalgamated into Syracuse Local 43 and Rochester Local 86 (it was re-chartered in 2005).

From 1998-2001, he served as assistant business manager of Local 86 until he was appointed international representative, servicing New York's construction locals. He also served as the Empire State's political director from 2008-2012.

"The IBEW was his passion," said Davis' son Michael, who is also business manager of Local 840. Davis' other son, Ryan, serves as president.

Larry Davis served as secretary-treasurer of the Workforce Investment Board and president of the Finger Lakes Building Trades. He still holds the positions of New York State Building Trades secretary-treasurer and Rochester-Genesee AFL-CIO trustee.

"Larry is one of the best international representatives I've ever met," said Paul D'Onofrio, IBEW lobbyist and member of New City Local 363. "He has a way of being passionate without being offensive. I like to say that Larry has the good manners of the people from upstate New York with the charm of somebody from east Texas."

Larry Davis says his career highlight was working with then-Third District Vice President Don Siegel on the re-chartering of Local 840 in 2005. He said he saw how the local's market share was changing and believed it would do better on its own rather than split between other locals. During the year-long open enrollment, 98 percent of the former members returned, along with some new members from Local 43 and Local 86.

"It was quite a process," Larry Davis said. "But it was in the best interest of the members, from all the locals."

Larry Davis' duties also involved advocating for labor-friendly legislation, particularly construction-related topics like the prevailing wage.

"He knew the issues," D'Onofrio said. "And he earned the respect of both parties."

In retirement, Larry Davis says he plans to travel with his wife and visit parts of the U.S. they haven't yet seen. But he said he misses the Brotherhood.

"IBEW has been one of the most important things in my life," he said. "I worked with a great group of people. It was an honor to help the members."

Mike Davis, whose son, Jacob, is a second-year apprentice with Local 840, says his father's commitment to the local remains strong.

"Our dad taught us the importance of representing all working people," Davis said. "Everyone deserves a voice on the job, that's what his life was about."


Lawrence Davis

James F. Lynch

After 46 years in the IBEW, Eleventh District International Representative James Lynch has retired, effective Aug. 1.

Brother Lynch is a native of Kansas City, Kan., and a second-generation IBEW member. After high school, he worked summers as a groundman for Kansas City, Mo., Local 53 to pay for college. The work convinced him he wanted to be a lineman and after graduation in 1971 he was initiated into Kansas City, Mo., Local 1464 and went to work for Kansas City Power and Light. He tried for years to get into their apprenticeship, with no luck. A layoff in 1974 settled his mind. He was too old to join Local 53's apprenticeship which capped acceptance at age 24. So he applied for and was accepted into the apprenticeship program at Des Moines, Iowa, Local 55.

"I just wanted to be a lineman and went anywhere I had to," Lynch said.

Lynch worked with the tools for 15 years. He joined the Local 53 executive board in 1981, a position he held until 1986. In 1985, he began a nearly two decade run as an instructor at the Missouri Valley Line Constructors apprenticeship program.

In 1986, Lynch was brought on staff as a business representative at Local 53 where he earned a reputation as a jack-of-all-trades. He worked with units in many different branches including tree trimmers, the board of public utilities, broadcast stations, and, from time to time, construction contractors.

In 2005, Lynch was elected business manager and financial secretary of Local 53 after his mentor, Keith Querry, retired. He held the position until 2007 when he was appointed Eleventh District international representative.

Eleventh District International Representative Steve White has worked with Lynch for nearly two decades. Lynch trained White during his apprenticeship. After Lynch went to the Eleventh District, White became Local 53's business manager, and, now, White is following Lynch to the district office.

"Jim can get along with everybody," White said. "We have a lot of different branches in Local 53, people from all different backgrounds, and sometimes they could feel disconnected from the local. But when Jim talked to them, they felt like they were part of the family."

At the district office, Lynch earned a reputation for successfully negotiating first contracts, a notoriously difficult hurdle for many new units.

"Jim has the people skills to communicate with management, disagree but always come out shaking hands," said Eleventh District International Vice President Curt Henke. "He could be hard in the negotiating room, but he was always honest, with the members and management. If he said he could do it, he'd do it. And if he couldn't, he would tell you that straight."

Lynch said of all the jobs he held in the IBEW, he got the most enjoyment and takes the most pride in the time he spent training apprentices.

"I call them all my kids," he said. "When you finally see the lightbulb go on when they see an answer they've been struggling with — you can see it on their faces — that is the most rewarding thing you can do."

White said he's seen one of Lynch's "kids" approach him dozens of times.

"Whenever anyone comes up to him and tells him they used to be his student, he gets a big old smile on his face," White said. "That's his true legacy at the IBEW: hundreds of people who know how to be real linemen."

The IBEW officers, staff and membership are grateful for Brother Lynch's work on behalf of the IBEW. Please join us in wishing him an enjoyable retirement.


James F. Lynch

Lindsay Nelson

Tenth District International Representative Lindsay Nelson retired July 1, wrapping up a 35-year IBEW career that took root in the U.S. Navy.

Born and raised in Columbia, S.C., Brother Nelson enlisted after his high school graduation and served for more than 11 years, becoming a chief electricians mate in charge of electricians and communications techs aboard nuclear ballistic submarines. He was part of eight submarine patrols of at least 70 days before being discharged in 1978. He served in the Naval Reserves until retiring in 1992.

"We had a tight bond on those submarine crews," Nelson said. "All of us had to be knowledgeable and trained and qualified because in case something happened, we had to have confidence everyone knew their job."

He worked briefly for Exxon Chemical before getting a civilian job at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. He wasn't listed as a full-time employee until 1982, when he joined Charleston Local 916.

It proved to be a good fit. Nelson took advantage of the electrical skills he learned in the Navy to thrive on the job and he quickly became active in Local 916, joining the executive committee and taking over as business manager in 1987.

"It seemed to have a camaraderie and brotherhood that I was used to in the Navy, where everyone relies on each other and their skills," Nelson said of Local 916. "We kind of had a common goal to represent folks, especially those that may not be as knowledgeable or have the courage to stand up for themselves. I personally never had a problem with that. When I see an injustice or something that bothers me, I just can't take it."

Things changed, however, in 1996, when the naval base and shipyard were closed. Nelson stayed on as business manager for two more years while the shipyard went through a downsizing and transition. Local 916 then was amalgamated into Charleston Local 776.

Nelson's time with the IBEW was far from over, however. Tenth District organizing coordinator Jim Springfield recommended him for what was supposed to be a temporary organizer's post. The job lasted for more than six years until then-Tenth District Vice President Carl Lansden made him a permanent staff member in charge of professional and industrial organizing throughout the district.

Later, he was put in charge of half of the Tenth District's local unions in the Carolinas by Robert P. Klein, Lansden's successor, alongside fellow International Representative Benny Hunnicutt.

"I enjoyed going to all the locals and working with the leadership," Nelson said. "I also enjoyed talking to the unrepresented workers and explaining to them the benefits of being part of the Brotherhood and advantages that union workers have when it comes to having a contract and representation. It's the difference in being at the table instead of being on the menu."

Nelson said it was discouraging at times to work in an area that is often hostile toward unions. South Carolina has the lowest percentage of union workers in the country. But even in those areas, the IBEW is highly regarded, he said.

"Throughout the places that I've been, and the other union reps I've met, like the machinists or the auto workers or whatever, they all respect the IBEW," he said. "We are basically a leader of other unions. They use us as an example and I'm proud of that."

Nelson said he'll miss working with the IBEW leaders in the Tenth District, including Klein, who retired two years ago, and current Tenth District Vice President Brent E. Hall.

"Lindsay was well versed in labor law and the National Labor Relations Board," Hall said. "His assistance to the locals in the Tenth District was appreciated by all. We wish him and his wife Karen a happy retirement."

Nelson hasn't given up all his IBEW duties. He's agreed to help Local 776 officials negotiate a contract for a newly-organized bargaining unit at an ADT facility.

But once that is finished, he plans to spend additional time working on improvement projects with Karen at their home in Summerville, about 25 miles northwest of Charleston. They also will remain active in their church, where Karen is the pianist and Nelson takes care of the sound system. He also plans to become more active in a submarine veterans group.

The IBEW staff and officers wish Brother Nelson and his family a long and happy retirement.


Lindsay Nelson