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May 2019

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Robert Prunn

Former Tampa, Fla., Local 824 Business Manager Robert Prunn, who served as an international representative for the last four years, has been appointed Broadcasting & Telecommunications Director. He replaces Martha Pultar, who retired in April.

"Robert lives and breathes the IBEW," said Local 824 assistant business manager John Glye Jr., a longtime friend. "He believes in its core values. I think that is what has carried him to where he is today."

Brother Prunn was born in Baltimore and moved to suburban Tampa as a child when his father, who worked for Coca-Cola Co., was transferred there. After a stint in the Marine Corps, the younger Prunn was hired by GTE as an operator and became a Local 824 member in 1988 after transferring to a service installer position.

It was Prunn's first experience with unions. He turned down an initial offer to become a steward in his new work group.

But a couple of weeks later, the chief steward invited him to a local union meeting and said he would introduce him to everyone there. This time, Prunn accepted and quickly realized he had found a home.

"I felt really welcome by the members there," he said. "I remember thinking, 'This is cool. This is something I want to be a part of.'"

Danny Johnson, Local 824's chief steward at the time who later served as business manager and a Fifth District international representative, remembers meeting Prunn for dinner before a local meeting early in his career. Prunn showed up in a sports coat, he said.

"You didn't see that much from a guy working outside," Johnson said. "That impressed me.

"He really shined when he got involved in the local," Johnson added. "Anything we needed, he was always there, and he was always involved in the community with the things we did for charities."

Prunn soon became a steward, a position he held for the next several years, including when he was assigned to a Verizon call center for a brief period because GTE had little outside work available at the time. He was named to Local 824's negotiating subcommittee in 1993 and was elected vice president one year later. He was named to the full negotiating committee in 1996.

In 1997, Prunn ran again for vice president — but this time on a ticket with Johnson, who was challenging the incumbent business manager. Johnson won the election and appointed Prunn as a business representative in addition to his role as vice president. He remained on the local staff until 2005, when Johnson left to join the Fifth District and Prunn returned to working in the field.

Prunn was elected business manager in 2009 and re-elected in 2012. He was a sergeant-at-arms for the 2011 International Convention in Vancouver and also served as district vice president for the Florida AFL-CIO and as COPE director for the West Central Florida Federation of Labor.

"I've just really enjoyed the camaraderie since I was appointed a steward in 1988," he said. "It felt like a family and it felt so good to be able to help people through troubled times or to make sure things weren't violated under the contract."

In 2014, Prunn was appointed an international representative for telecommunications by then-International President Edwin D. Hill.

"He had all the qualities that Martha wanted in someone," Johnson said. "He's a great negotiator. He understands contracts like no one else, and he loves the IBEW."

Four years later, he's succeeding her.

"Robert will be a great director," Pultar said. "He has determination, passion and dedication to the labor movement. He will do a fine job for the telecommunications and broadcast members."

Prunn's immediate goals are to reach out to business managers and members within broadcasting locals and to build strong relationships there. With the help of others, he wants to target organizing efforts within the telecommunications industry, which has faced a high degree of instability due to consolidation and technology changes.

"He has the patience that I desire but never really had," Glye said. "He's really good at being able to pull things out of people before they even knew what they were capable of. That probably goes back to being a good listener and taking the time to observe what someone's strengths and weaknesses are."

Prunn's wife, Tammy, is a former Local 824 member whom he met when he was assigned to the Verizon call center. She now works at the International Office in supply services.

The IBEW's officers, staff and membership congratulate Brother Prunn on his appointment and wish him much success in his new position.


Robert Prunn