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June 2012

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Harrison Wade Gurley

We are saddened to report that retired Fifth District International Vice President Harrison Wade Gurley died on April 19. He was 86.

Fifth District International Representative Fielding Gurley, Brother Gurley's son, says, "My father always stressed to me that being IBEW gave one the opportunity every day to make a difference in someone's life." Even as his father's health and memory were failing, his son said he would perk up when they talked union.

The son of a railroad union activist, Harrison Gurley worked as a boiler turbine operator at Georgia Power. He was initiated into Macon, Ga., Local 896 in 1949.

Working eight- hour shifts monitoring gauges at a table with no chairs, Gurley advocated for workers who were forced to sit on the floor. He succeeded in getting stools with no backs and later in securing chairs. Earning respect for his persistence, Gurley was elected to union office, serving as the local's president before it was amalgamated into Atlanta, Ga., Local 84.

From 1945 to 1946, Gurley served in the U.S. Infantry and was stationed in Japan.

Appointed Fifth District International Representative in 1957, Gurley serviced local unions in all branches of the Brotherhood except broadcasting.

He was elected International Vice President at the 34th International Convention in 1991.

Brother Gurley was a member of the Labor Education and Research Advisory Committee of the University of Alabama and served on the Alabama Governor's Labor-Management Conference Advisory Committee.

A graduate of the AFL-CIO's Southern Staff Training Institute, Brother Gurley studied labor-related subjects at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois.

In retirement, Gurley enjoyed fishing and hunting. He taught Sunday school and served as chairman of the administrative board of the Park Memorial United Church. Fielding Gurley says his father was also noted for sending scathing letters to editor defending organized labor.

The officers, staff and members of the IBEW send our condolences to Brother Gurley's wife, Louise, and his entire family.


Harrison Wade Gurley

Ronald Burke

International Organizer and former Director of Construction Organizing Ronald Burke retired effective June 1, after a 29-year IBEW career.

Brother Burke was initiated into Billings, Mont., Local 532 in 1983. After working in construction for a few years without a union, he says that being in the IBEW was an experience he never had before. "Just the way everyone was treated with respect, the commitment to safety and the way every one saw their job as a career, not just a paycheck," he says.

Even before turning out, he was active in the local. During his apprenticeship, he helped organize a journeyman appreciation night, and was an active volunteer for picket duty.

The 1980s saw declining market share and aggressive new tactics from nonunion contractors, which pushed the IBEW to make a new commitment to organizing. Burke was appointed Local 532's organizer to help carry out the IBEW's COMET program, meant to regain market share in the construction industry.

"It was a whole new world," Burke says. "It was something we hadn't done as a union in many decades."

He worked under Director of Construction Organizing Jim Rudicil in 1996 to coordinate IBEW organizing west of the Mississippi River.

During that time he served as the IBEW's lead for the Building Trades Organizing Project, a multi-craft organizing campaign in Las Vegas that grew union market share in the city by 35 percent.

In 1997, he was appointed to the organizing department at the International Office by International President J.J. Barry. Two years later he was appointed director of Construction Organizing.

He was responsible for helping to develop a market share survey and database for inside locals and put together the first-ever national IBEW organizing conference.

Brother Burke says one of his proudest achievements was helping to expose the abuse of immigrant workers by the USA-IT program in 2002, a private company that used loopholes in immigration law to exploit low-paid electricians from Eastern Europe and South America. "We worked with the State Department to put an end to a program that was in effect a modern-day version of indentured servitude," he says.

In 2003, Burke returned to Montana as an International Organizer, helping out on campaigns from Arizona to Texas. "There aren't many locals I haven't visited," he says.

Brother Burke says he looks forward to spending more time with his family and enjoying some golfing and fishing.

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Burke a long, healthy and enjoyable retirement.


Ronald Burke

Jim Dahlberg

Sixth District Inter­national Representative James Dahlberg retired effective May 1 after more than 40 years of service to the IBEW.

Brother Dahlberg was initiated into Superior, Wis., Local 276 in 1970, where he worked at Superior Water, Light & Power inside the plant and as a lineman. His unit was amalgamated into Duluth, Minn., Local 31 six years later.

"My father was a firefighter who was very involved in his union," Dahlberg said. "So when I went to work at the utility, I quickly got involved in my local."

Brother Dahlberg served on Local 31's health and welfare committee, the negotiating committee and the executive board before being elected business manager in 1990. He said that one of his goals was to continue the successes of his predecessor, Jim DeArmond.

"I had a desire to continue building relationships with employers based on mutual respect," Dahlberg said. The majority of Local 31's membership in those years worked at Minnesota Power and its subsidiaries. With 18 separate contracts in effect for employees, Dahlberg was instrumental in negotiating wage increases, improving pension plans and increasing the membership by organizing municipal employees. He also coordinated the successful organizing campaign of a rural electric cooperative.

IBEW International President J.J. Barry appointed Dahlberg as International Representative in 1997, where he went on to service all utility locals in Wisconsin and northern Michigan. Coordinating efforts for 11 locals, he also worked with members in manufacturing and at a paper mill. One of his key assignments was to steer education and training programs for new business managers, as well as develop and administer arbitration trainings and the Sixth District's Organizers' Boot Camp.

When Wis. Gov. Scott Walker opened his salvo on working families last year, Dahlberg was active in massive demonstrations and worked with locals to coordinate their participation. "I think we're at the most critical point for labor that I've seen in more than 40 years with the IBEW," he said. "The ultra-conservatives have come out from behind the bushes — but I've been amazed at the response from union members in the state and across the nation."

Dahlberg took courses at the University of Wisconsin to strengthen his union leadership. A member of the IBEW's Minnesota State Labor Council and the Lake Superior Area Labor/Management Association, he also served on the board of directors for the Labor World newspaper.

Brother Dahlberg plans to take more motorcycle trips with his wife, Darcy. He also looks forward to spending more time with his sons, Ryan and Joel, and his stepdaughters, Kasey and Kristen.

"I've had a unique opportunity to serve the membership," Dahlberg said. "I got the chance to fight the good fight and see some successes in my time. We are desperately in need of an infusion of younger activists, so it's gratifying to now turn the torch over to others."

On behalf of the entire union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Dahlberg a healthy, enjoyable and well-deserved retirement.


Jim Dahlberg

Greg Gore

Fourth District International Representative Gregory Gore retired effective May 1, after 40 years of service to the IBEW.

Brother Gore was initiated into Parkersburg, W.Va., Local 968 in 1972 after attending West Virginia University for two years. Within two years of becoming a journeyman wireman in 1975, Gore ran for local union office, first serving on the examining board from 1977 to 1980 and then as recording secretary from 1980 to 1985.

Appointed assistant business manager, he was elected business manager in 1986, serving until President J.J. Barry appointed him International Representative in 1995.

During his 17 years as an International Representative, he serviced local unions in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, helping dozens of construction locals with negotiations, grievances, labor law and policy, and conducting steward, leadership and Code of Excellence trainings for IBEW officers and members.

As business manager, he was active on a number of local and regional labor committees and boards, serving as president of the Parkersburg/ Marietta Building Trades Council, president of the West Virginia State Electrical Workers and trustee of Local 968's health and welfare fund. He also served on the Grievance and Appeals Committee at IBEW's 100th convention in 1991 in St. Louis.

Gore counts as one of the most rewarding experiences of his career serving on the Council of Industrial Relations. "It was educational and enlightening — the Council heard cases from all over the U.S. and learned how different locals handled different situations."

He is currently serving as the labor representative on the Board of Directors of the Camden Clark Medical Center and is on the West Virginia AFL-CIO Advisory Board. He also plans to be active in his local Democratic Party: "I want to continue supporting and working to elect candidates who support working men and women."

An avid hunter and firearms enthusiast, Gore hopes to start fishing again, something he said he hasn't done for many years. He and his wife, Judy, also look forward to traveling and "enjoying a slower pace of life."

On behalf of the union membership, the officers and staff wish Brother Gore a long, happy and healthy retirement.


Greg Gore