March 2011

Letters to the Editor
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Lights Out?

I'm a retired member of over 50 years. I worked for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for 23 years and Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 for 27 years, retiring as an assistant business manager. What is going on at the Sparta Lighting plant in Tennessee ("Tennessee Community Challenges Plant Shutdown," February 2011) just infuriates me all to HELL! I hope it does the same to others. This company would just up and close shop after receiving $7 million in federal stimulus funds?

The last paragraph of this article says it all. I quote: "Something has to give somewhere or, before long our senators and congressmen will have to move their offices to Mexico and China." Seeing how everyone in Congress is talking about jobs, let's pressure them to propose and PASS a BILL that would prohibit a corporation that closes down and leaves from selling their wares in the United States.

Frank Saxsenmeier
Local 1245 retiree, Vacaville, Calif.

Brotherhood's Generosity

I am the wireman shop steward for Norcon Inc. at the Fort Greely, Alaska, powerhouse. Norcon had over 100 wiremen and about 50 other skilled trade workers on this job. Last year, over the Fourth of July weekend, Nick Favero, a member of the plumbers union, died in a fatal motorcycle accident. Dan Vasikas stepped in and at his second annual benefit barbeque at his home in Delta Junction raised over $13,000 for Mrs. Favero.

Over the course of the next couple of months, about $6,500 was given to six local members' families, including a member of the pile drivers' union who had kidney failure.

In late September, a 30-man call went out to man a job for a night shift. Many of the travelers on this job called out to their friends to come up here. These brothers and sisters traveled up to Alaska, found their way down to Delta Junction, arrived on the job site, and were told that funding was cut and that they were no longer needed. When word spread that the call was cancelled and these guys were being sent home, a collection again was started up. In about five hours I had $3,650 in my hand.

I called my wife, Letha, and asked her to make a 100-mile drive to Fairbanks to deliver some money to the hall. Letha's reply was four words: "When do I leave?" Letha quietly walked into the hall, gave our dispatcher an envelope full of checks and walked out.

The traveling brothers and sisters had a little spending money in their hands. Norcon also stepped up and helped these travelers out financially. In the next couple of days another $2,500 was raised. In October we lost a local brother in Anchorage in a car accident. The Bechtel group raised over $1,500 for his family.

About $35,000 was given out to help families, travelers, brothers and sisters of different trades. This is what unions and solidarity is all about. Thank you one and all for your generosity.

"Delta" Dave Neuburger
Local 1547 member, Fairbanks, Alaska

Conflicting Priorities?

"Fighting For Our Future: Putting Jobs First," (The Electrical Worker, January 2011) was an excellent and well-written piece concerning our future and what needs to be done to insure our continued well-being as a union electricians, especially the part where you say that America's No.1 priority is jobs, jobs, jobs.

However, I am confused over one thing. On the same page you ask us to "Go Green With Our E-Edition." If I did, how many loggers, truckers, paper mill workers, shippers, printers and postal workers will I put out of work? Maybe it's time for the International to get their priorities straight before we ask our elected officials to.

Howard S. Rubenstein
Local 164 member, Oakland, N.J.