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September 2022

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Thomas Reid

First District International Vice President Thomas Reid retired in June after nearly 35 years in the IBEW.

Reid's decades-long union journey followed a somewhat meandering route. While he was in trade school, he took on electrical work with a nonunion contractor that ended up being organized by Kingston, Ontario, Local 115 while he was there. The local told Reid that he would have to start his apprenticeship all over again if he wanted to join the union, something that Reid was unwilling to do — at least at first.

A series of gigs in the often-unfair world of nonunion work, however, soon made Reid realize that the advantages of an IBEW-based career would be beneficial not only for him but also for his wife, Kathy, and the family they were starting to build. By then, Reid said, the IBEW also had made it easier for him and workers in similar predicaments to join up, and he was initiated into Local 115 just before he turned 24.

Reid quickly became active with his local, starting out as its recording secretary in 1987. In 1990, he was elected to Local 115's executive board. Throughout this period, Reid was the local's chairman for his hometown Belleville unit, and he also served on Local 115's organizing committee.

In 1993, the IBEW's Construction Council of Ontario hired Reid to serve as an organizer. Reid's early-career experience working with nonunion contractors turned out to be especially useful for his work with the CCO, which now represents about 18,000 union workers from 11 construction locals across the province.

Reid's organizing successes with the CCO soon caught the attention of then-International President J.J. Barry, who in 1998 appointed Reid as a construction and industrial organizing international representative for the IBEW's First District, which encompasses all of Canada.

There, Reid also was the union's representative on the General Presidents' Maintenance Committee for Canada/National Maintenance Council for Canada, an alliance of industrial maintenance building trades that negotiates and administers multi-trade agreements for maintenance work on industrial facilities.

Matt Wayland, a First District international representative who also serves as Canadian Director of Government Relations, recalled meeting Reid sometime around 2004 or 2005, while Wayland was an apprentice with St. Catharine's, Ontario, Local 303.

"Tom likes to keep things lighthearted," Wayland said. "He likes to joke around, but he really knows his stuff."

In 2013, then-First District International Vice President William Daniels asked Reid to join the district's office in Mississauga to work as Daniels' executive assistant. When Daniels retired five years later, International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, with the backing of the International Executive Council, appointed Reid to fill the vacancy.

Now in retirement, Reid looks back on his career with satisfaction. "Organizing is the fundamental basis of the labour movement," he said. "It's highly important for our district to try to get organizing back on track.

"I am proud of my body of work," he said. "I especially liked focusing on our more diverse branches such as Utility and Manufacturing. I did the best that I could."

He said he also has appreciated the IBEW's increasing emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, which he supported by backing the RENEW/NextGen initiative and by encouraging greater outreach to women and persons from marginalized communities.

"As an I.V.P., Tom always liked to know what was going on in the district — with the staff, the locals, and the members," Wayland said.

Reid is now looking forward to spending more time with Kathy; their daughters, Kate and Meagan; their son, Peter; and their six grandchildren. Peter, Reid noted, is now a Red Seal journeyman wireman himself with Local 115 and already active with the IBEW, having recently helped organize a golf tournament in his unit.

"Retirement has been good for me so far," said Reid, an avid motorcycle enthusiast who remains deeply involved with the Canadian Superbike Championship series, the highest level of motorcycle road racing in Canada.

"When I think of Tom, I think of his grandkids and his motorcycles," Wayland said.

Reid, in fact, owns 14 motorcycles, he said. "Eight or nine are road-worthy, vintage rally bikes," he said. "They're just a lot of fun."

Please join the officers, staff and membership in wishing Brother Reid a long and happy retirement.


Thomas Reid

William "Bill" Martindale

Capping an organizing career that began more than three decades ago, International Representative and First District Organizing Coordinator William "Bill" Martindale has retired, effective Sept. 1.

"Bill might just be the longest serving organizer in IBEW history," said Regional Organizing Coordinator Rod McVicar, who's known Martindale for over 10 years. "He knew how to handle any situation that came up."

Brother Martindale, a native of Sarnia, Ontario, located on Lake Huron near the Michigan border, began his IBEW career as a construction and maintenance electrical apprentice with Toronto Local 353 in the summer of 1973, working for Lockhart and McKay Electric. He was initiated into Local 353 in April 1975. In 1990, he was hired as a local union organizer and three years later assumed the dual role of provincial organizer through the Construction Council of Ontario. Martindale was then hired as the ROC for eastern Canada in 2007, a position he held until being reassigned to district organizing coordinator in 2013.

"Everybody loves Bill," McVicar said. "He's always that guy you want to call first, whether it was a good day or a bad day."

Despite his decades of organizing, McVicar says Martindale was always open to new ideas.

"One thing that always impressed me about Bill was his willingness to take on a new challenge," said McVicar, who worked in the same region as Martindale. "Many organizers become set in their ways and don't want to learn new skills as an organizer. Bill was not that guy. If there was a new method for getting cards signed, Bill was willing to take on that challenge and make it work."

Martindale has been described as a patient, knowledgeable, even-keeled person. Someone to call on when you needed a steady hand.

"Bill was the ultimate diplomat," said Gord Nye, a retired organizer who worked on various campaigns with Martindale. "He had such a decorum about him. A real people person who could relate to anybody. He treated everybody with dignity and respect and commanded that in return."

Both McVicar and Nye also commented on how thorough Martindale was when it came to meeting preparations, and he earned a reputation for taking meticulous notes.

"He was always prepared for any meeting, interview, whatever it was. He took them all seriously," McVicar said. "Bill would always bring his A game."

Retired Local 353 Business Manager Joe Fashion, who hired Martindale in 1990, says that Martindale exemplified the ideals of the IBEW.

"You couldn't ask for a better employee," Fashion said. "He was dedicated, there's no doubt about it. And always upbeat with a smile on his face."

When not organizing, Martindale also played baseball and hockey for the local IBEW leagues.

"He was a good player. We won a lot of championships during that time," Fashion said.

Martindale says he doesn't have just one organizing moment that stands out to him.

"An organizing win is often a long-term commitment to a group of workers that you have never met before," Martindale said. "Any time there is a successful campaign, and the group enjoys the benefits of collective bargaining, it makes the long hours and stressful situations worthwhile."

Martindale says he'll miss the interactions and friendships he developed with his brothers and sisters throughout the building trades.

"I will take the IBEW culture and countless memories with me wherever I go," Martindale said. "My most enduring memories will be of the good humor and positive energy of my friends and co-workers in Canada and the U.S., and the many laughs we shared together."

As for what Martindale plans to do in retirement, he said there's really just one requirement.

"I'm looking forward to lots of leisure travel with my wife, Lori, that doesn't include business suits," he said.

On behalf of the officers, staff and members of the IBEW, we wish Brother Martindale all the best in his well-earned retirement.


William "Bill" Martindale

Gary Osborne

Gary Osborne, whose career as an admired IBEW organizer began by converting nonunion electricians in western Kentucky and boldly taking on lawbreaking contractors, retired Sept. 1 after 43 years with the union.

As Fourth District organizing coordinator for the past decade, Osborne employed skills and strategies he'd been honing since his days as organizing director of Owensboro, Ky., Local 1701 in the early 1990s.

"Gary is one of my favorite people that I have ever worked with," said Fourth District International Vice President Gina Cooper. "The value he brings to our district, helping our local unions be more effective in organizing and recruitment, can't be overstated."

Osborne grew up in Owensboro, the son of an IBEW lineman-turned-wireman. His father's second career piqued his interest, and he enrolled in electrical courses at his high school.

After graduating, he worked briefly for a former IBEW member who'd left to run a nonunion shop. Even so, the boss treated him well and was supportive when Osborne signed on with Local 1701 as an apprentice in 1978.

"He told me, 'I wouldn't dare try to hold you back.' He was either glad for me getting into the IBEW or glad to get rid of me," Osborne said with a laugh.

As an apprentice and young journeyman, Osborne said he "could be outspoken at union meetings, all about wanting the local's market share to grow." But he wasn't otherwise involved until deciding to run for the executive board in 1989.

"You find out the workings of the union are a little more complicated from the inside," he said. "It was an eye-opener."

While still on the board in 1993, he was hired as the local's first full-time organizing director, work he continued as the local's president and eventually business manager. After six years at the helm, he joined the international staff in 2010 as a state organizing coordinator in Kentucky and Ohio and moved to his district job two years later.

During his tenure as business manager and an officer in the city's building trades council, Osborne sent a memorable letter to the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce — one still circulated by IBEW locals and leaders.

The council belonged to the Chamber, which was backing a 2005 push for a right-to-work law in Kentucky, a campaign that failed at the time.

"It's one of my favorite stories about Gary," said International Secretary-Treasurer Kenny Cooper, who worked closely with Osborne during his time leading the Fourth District. "He sent them a letter saying he wanted to stay a member of the Chamber and continue to enjoy the benefits they offered but didn't want to pay any dues."

The Chamber wrote back, explaining that they can't operate without dues and any exceptions would be unfair to other members.

Osborne agreed with gusto. He suggested in his response that "perhaps we may work together to fight off legislation that allows freeloaders to participate in organizations without paying the required dues."

"They really had egg on their face," Cooper said. "It was brilliant. He added a tool to the toolbox for all of us."

It was Cooper's decision as Fourth District vice president to promote Osborne to district organizing coordinator. "I'd seen his talents," he said. "Gary had a knack for talking about the things that we bring to the table at the IBEW, and he was persuasive."

He'd had a lot of practice at Local 1701, where he formed a team of member-organizers who salted nonunion job sites. At one point, he said, electricians who were recruited into the local comprised more than half of its 300-plus members.

"He's one of the best organizers I've ever seen," said Tim Blandford, one of Osborne's successors as business manager and his friend "since we sacked groceries together as teenagers."

Osborne's methods rattled the area's nonunion contractors. "They were scared to death to bid any big jobs because they were afraid they were going to get salts, and I was one of them," Blandford said.

Osborne also aggressively pursued unfair labor practice charges against contractors who violated their workers' organizing rights.

"He didn't back down from them at all," said Blandford, who got a kick out of seeing his friend in action at regional National Labor Relations Board hearings. "I learned a lot from him about doing that kind of work, a lot about labor law. He encouraged all of us to take labor law classes."

Osborne said he'll always be a union man and that retirement won't stop him from talking to potential members about the value of joining the IBEW. But after years on the road, he's eager to catch up on projects around the house and enjoy time with his wife, Patricia, and their grown daughter, Heather.

The IBEW thanks Brother Osborne for his decades of service and wishes him a long, happy, and healthy retirement.


Gary Osborne