The Electrical Worker online
June 2016

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Workers' Rights, Then and Now

My family and I moved to Everett, Washington, in 1996 and in my historical wanderings I came across the story of the 1916 Everett Massacre. This was where members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or the Wobblies as they were known) were working for mill workers' rights. A group of union busters came up by boat from Seattle, confronted the Wobblies, and many union members died in a shootout.

I have been working for Providence Hospice of Snohomish County for 28 years. Slowly this relatively small but important health-care organization, caring for people who are dying (and their families) became affiliated with General Hospital of Everett. Eventually this hospital merged with the Providence Health Care system, along with the hospice program.

Over the past four years, many organizational restructures, reporting and leadership changes have occurred. To save costs and to standardize care, Providence centralized leadership in offices in Renton, separating leadership from service delivery. Our local voices have been losing volume, becoming whispers in the organizational offices.

Providence Hospice of Snohomish County is over 100 dedicated employees who care deeply about quality hospice. Nurse caseloads have become unacceptable numbers, scheduling has been constantly changing without input from the staff, resulting in a negative impact on the quality of hospice care.

Concerns about these issues were not being heard in Renton. Staff retention figures plummeted, burnout was the norm. Hospice staff gathered to talk with union representatives of Service Employees International Union Local 1199, but interest outgrew the space. Having recently attended an event at IBEW Local 191 in Everett, I asked my son about his union and its facilities.

And wow, Local 191 opened its doors to our employees to help us in our struggle for workplace justice.

I am 67 years old and I now finally know why unions are critical to a fair and quality workplace, and I now have much more appreciation of what happened at the foot of Hewitt Avenue in 1916.

When the scales are unbalanced and workers' voices are not heard, something has to be done. Hospice employee voices needed to be heard. We want our patients' families and our staff to be taken care of in the best possible way and IBEW Business Manager Joseph Lorenzo and the members of Local 191 helped us in our journey to this goal. On April 6, 207 health system workers voted overwhelmingly to be represented by SEIU. Thank you so much.

Sherri Pride, mother of Local 191 member Dylan Pride
Everett, Wash.

An Inspiring Read

Your story about Brother Hampson in the May issue, "IBEW Lineman Back on the High Line after Amputation", is an inspiration to all who read it. Brother Hampson shows what is possible with a strong heart and an unyielding spirit.

Hale Landes, Local 134 member

IBEW_Facebook  From Facebook: Every month the IBEW Facebook page receives thousands of comments from our dynamic and engaged community of members and friends.

Cheers for Energy Action

Regarding the Senate's first bipartisan energy bill in a decade: About time! If the power grid goes down, the crying towels will be out for a long time! Without linemen and electricians and investments in newer technology, our country is in big trouble.

Brad Purfeerst, Local 46 retiree

Helping Members Breathe Easier

On the IBEW's push for the new OSHA rule regulating silica dust: Thank you for your effort to get this regulation improved! I have quit jobs in the past because of little or no regard by employers regarding exposure to these types of hazards. Another example of how unions improve the lot of all working people.

Bill Campbell, Local 113 retiree
Colorado Springs, Colo.