International President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill was honored for a lifetime of service to the utility industry by the landmark labor-management organization he helped create.
|Kuhn and Hill with their awards, table lamps with gilded electrical meters.
Hill was presented the John D. Dingell Award at the annual meeting of the National Labor and Management Political Action Committee, along with Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, a coalition of investor-owned utilities with nearly 220 million customers and 500,000 workers.
Hill and Kuhn co-foundeded LAMPAC in 2008 to advance the common goal of a healthy industry, reliable power and a well-trained workforce.
The award is named after the former Michigan representative, the longest serving member of Congress. Dingell sat on the Energy and Commerce Committee for nearly 60 years and was chair for more 30. He built a reputation for finding ways that labor and management could collaborate for the common good.
His wife, Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, and New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross, the only IBEW member in Congress, presented the awards to Hill and Kuhn.
Dingell said she could not think of two people more deserving of the award.
“They show what can be accomplished when management and labor work together,” Dingell said.
With the scaffolding-covered Capitol building behind him, Hill accepted his award on behalf of IBEW members. He thanked the room of business managers, international representatives, elected officials, and utility executives, and expressed a philosophical view of the award.
“Giving me an award for building relationships is like giving a little kid an award for eating ice cream,” Hill said. “There will always be a certain adversarial nature to the relationship between labor and management, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to find common cause where we can.”
Kuhn accepted his award with some kind words and thanks of his own.
“I don’t deserve to be in the same category as Ed Hill. How he rose through the ranks to the highest office of the IBEW… his story is incredible,” Kuhn said. “The Code of Excellence is imbued in his heart that we better serve our members when we serve our customers first.”
Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute Kuhn, Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell and International President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill at the National LAMPAC award ceremony where Kuhn and Hill received the John Dingell Award for service to the utility industry.
The Dingell Award, an engraved table lamp mounted with an electricity meter, was presented by American Electric Power Chairman, President & CEO Nicholas Akins and Utility Department Director Jim Hunter.
The ceremony came after a daylong conference focused on business and political challenges facing the utility industry.
Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell and Pacific Gas and Electric President- Electric Geisha Williams talked about the challenge of roof-top solar systems that use the grid without paying for it.
Akins presented a comprehensive technical and economic industry forecast and Politico columnist Mike Allen spoke about the state of the presidential campaign.
The mood of the meeting was perhaps best captured by Kuhn in his introduction.
“This is the most challenging time in our industry since Thomas Edison invented the business 130 years ago,” Kuhn said.
Nearly every speaker agreed with Kuhn’s assessment. Every day, utilities are confronted with novel technical, regulatory, and economic challenges. But throughout the day, company and IBEW leaders spoke about how they were meeting each challenge together.
A particular bright spot was the focus of a panel featuring Florida Power and Light President and CEO Eric Silagy and Utility System Council 4 Business Manager Gary Aleknavich.
Before the Code of Excellence was signed between FPL and the 11 locals in System Council 4, Aleknavich said, contract negotiations dragged on for months and thousands of grievances were filed against the company.
“Our last contract negotiation took 34 days from start to finish and I am proud to say we have zero, not one grievance pending arbitration,” Aleknavich said.
“Aligning our interests has made us better, stronger, and safer,” Silagy said. “We are really, really proud of how far we have come.”