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December 2018

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Support the Campaign for 'Lineworker Appreciation Day'

A push is on in Canada to designate July 10 as National Lineworker Appreciation Day, and International President Lonnie R. Stephenson and First District Vice President Tom Reid are encouraging Canadian sisters and brothers to help make it happen.

"Through snow, ice, wind and hail — day and night, 24/7 — Canada's lineworkers and tree trimmers are there, braving the elements, working hard to keep the lights on for schools, hospitals and businesses," Stephenson said. "We all depend on the hard work of linemen and linewomen, and it's time they get the appreciation that they truly deserve."

At an Oct. 2 event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Reid joined representatives from the Canadian Electricity Association to launch the campaign to convince Canada's lawmakers to set July 10 as the official appreciation date.

"Together with our industry partners," Reid said, "we're calling on the Government of Canada to recognize lineworkers and the essential work they do to build, repair, and maintain the infrastructure that powers our daily lives."

Taking a day to acknowledge the sacrifice and risk inherent in the jobs of lineworkers and tree trimmers is the least we can do, Reid said.

"There are nearly 70,000 IBEW members in Canada, many of whom face working in challenging weather and at heights, in addition to the risks of cuts and high-voltage burns," he said. "These highly trained men and women work efficiently, safely, and collaboratively to keep electricity flowing across Canada."

Member of Parliament Daniel Blaikie, a member of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Local 2085, has sponsored an online petition in support of the effort posted on the House of Commons website at

"Lineworkers play an essential role in building, maintaining, and repairing the infrastructure that powers our economy," Blaikie said in a video posted to his Facebook page. "And when disaster strikes, they work long hours in dangerous conditions to get our lives back to normal."

July 10 has particular significance to the IBEW: It's the date in 1896 that Henry Miller, the union's founder and first president, died on the job.

"All the more reason to make that day the day to celebrate the important work lineworkers do for all of us," Blaikie said.

In Miller's time, huge numbers of all electrical workers were being killed on the job, Reid noted. "That's why he fought for a union and apprenticeships, a fight we continue today," he said.

The event in Ottawa kicked off a campaign to support the National Lineworker Day across Canada, where countless residents have learned to rely on the quick action of lineworkers to restore power — and, many times, heat — following destructive weather events.

A January 2017 ice storm in New Brunswick, for example, snapped utility poles and knocked out electrical service to about 300,000 NB Power customers just as temperatures fell as low as −20° C.

"I think that lineworkers are sometimes the forgotten first-responders," said Fredericton, N.B., Local 37 Business Manager Ross Galbraith, who also represents Canada on the International Executive Council. "Often, they are the first first-responders."

That's not to diminish what police officers and firefighters do, Galbraith said: "It just gives credit to the professionalism lineworkers show every day."

Local 37's executive board voted unanimously to support the initiative, he said. Many other locals' boards across the First District have followed suit, urged on by various utilities and trades-related agencies in an impressive display of labor-management cooperation.

"Lineworkers are compelled to get out there and work under some very trying conditions," said Canadian Electricity Association President Sergio Marchi in a video posted online. "You name it, they've faced it."

CEA also has plans to help spread word about the initiative and the e-petition through op-eds published in a number of Canadian newspapers, Galbraith said.

While only residents of Canada are eligible to sign the online petition, International President Stephenson encouraged anyone to join in the effort to get the issue trending on social media by posting supportive messages that include the hashtag #LineworkerDay.

Meanwhile, IBEW members continue to lobby the U.S. Congress to officially designate July 10 as National Lineworker Appreciation Day there. At last count, 27 co-sponsors from both parties had signed on to House Resolution 986, Rep. Linda Sánchez's resolution boosting the most recent effort.

"Linework is at times a tough and dangerous job," Stephenson said. "July 10 is a day where we pause for a moment to thank our lineworkers for the important work they do."