Eric Wolfe, communications director, Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245, accepted ILCA’s highest award for his story, “Brothers Keeper.”

IBEW’s International Office and local union communicators scored big at the 2014 Labor Media Awards presentation in Washington, D.C. in December.

Sponsored by the International Labor Communications Association, the yearly awards honor writing, video and Web-based work informing members and others about the mission, challenges, victories and defeats of organized labor.

“I am extremely proud that IBEW members took away more awards this year than any other labor organization,” says International President Edwin D. Hill. “The contest’s judges help to validate our union’s investment, not just in setting the highest standards to keep our members informed, but in projecting our values and accomplishments to those outside our ranks.”

The Max Steinbock Award, ILCA’s highest honor, was won by Eric Wolfe, communications director of Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 for his story, “Brother’s Keeper,” originally published in the local’s Utility Reporter.  Wolfe has been a frequent award winner over the last decade.

Wolfe’s story outlines the local’s efforts to improve safety on the job for linemen and others after a series of workplace fatalities. He describes the delicate methods employed by safety stewards to convince workers and their supervisors to correct unsafe practices, while simultaneously convincing employers to place improving the overall safety culture ahead of disciplining individuals.

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Mark Brueggenjohann, IBEW Media Department director and Jim Spellane, IBEW Media Advisor (second and third from left) accept ILCA award from ILCA executive committee members Howard Kling (left), Ed Finkelstein and the committee’s president, Kathy Cummings.

In remarks at the awards banquet, Wolfe recalled a senior lineman who stood in front of his peers and said, “I love you guys. I don’t want any of you to get hurt.” Wolfe said, “We know that unions are about power, about strength in numbers. But at a deeper level I think our strength comes from caring, caring about the Walmart worker, caring about the fast-food worker, caring about the sweatshop worker—caring about the brother who dies in a trench or falls off a pole.”

John Moyle, St. Louis, Local 1 press secretary, produces Powercast, a popular Website, for the local. Moyle won a first-place award, two second-place awards and a third place prize for a profile of a Local 1 electrician, Rodney Cook who, along with his wife Gretchen, founded Mission: American Gratitude, a program to welcome home veterans honorably discharged from the armed services.

The IBEW International Office Media Department took home 10 first-place awards, five second-place awards and seven third-place awards in categories ranging from “best design for newspapers” and “best profile” to “short video promos” to “best analysis.”

A promotional video, a 30-second national commercial aired during NFL broadcasts, IBEW--It’s About Growing A Community,” won a first place.

A first-place “best analysis” story from The Electrical Worker discussed political efforts to stop payroll fraud and worker misclassification from undermining wages, benefits and working conditions of IBEW and other building trades members.

“These awards demonstrate that IBEW’s video, print and Internet productions are a team effort,” says Media Department Director Mark Brueggenjohann. “Our staff is always looking for stories that give voice to members who do the hard work on their jobs and inside their local unions.”

The ultimate goal, says Brueggenjohann, “is to help grow and build a stronger IBEW by spreading the lessons from our victories and defeats and renewing the spirit of solidarity that is the hallmark of our union.”