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February 2017

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John Easton Jr.

The IBEW is pleased to announce that Houston Local 716 Business Manager John Easton Jr. has been named Sixth District International Executive Council member, effective Jan. 1.

President Lonnie R. Stephenson appointed Easton to fill the unexpired term of Chris Wagner, who was appointed Seventh District international representative. The IEC voted unanimously to confirm the selection.

Easton is a second generation Local 716 inside wireman, who entered his apprenticeship straight from high school in 1986. He topped out in 1989 and soon after was appointed a steward on one of the biggest projects in Local 716's history: the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. More than 500 Local 716 members were at the VA job for nearly a half-decade.

"I met lots of people there and those relationships have lasted a long time," Easton said.

In 1992, he was nominated by the then-business manager for the examining board. Easton said his experience reforming the local's intake process made him more interested in how decisions were made at the local and he decided to run for the executive board. He won by seven votes.

In 1998, Easton left the executive board to come on staff as an organizer, a position he kept until 2000, when he ran for business manager. Easton ousted the incumbent business manager in 2001, winning more than 60 percent of the vote in a four-way race.

"Did I have a lot of great ideas? Not too many, just promising that I would be honest with the membership, be accessible and do what I can to help. I never claimed to have all the answers and I promised we could come up with them together."

Easton gave a good deal of the credit for his smooth transition into local union office to the administrative staff and hiring the right people, including his father, John E. Easton Sr., to join the staff.

"I was his gofer back when I was a little kid and I joked it was payback time," Easton said of his father, who is now retired. "But, really, no one worked harder for the members than he did. He is where I got my integrity and tenacity from."

Easton, whose IEC district includes Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, served as a member of the Law Committee last year at the 39th International Convention in St. Louis, where he also nominated Christopher Erikson to be chairman of the IEC. He was a member of the Grievance and Appeals Committee at the 2011 convention in Vancouver.

After 16 years as business manager, and not one uncontested election, Easton said the invitation to join the IEC from International Stephenson was an unexpected honor.

"I have never been a guy to be really political. I have just always gotten along with people and tried to do my job," Easton said. "I was asked if I would be interested and I said, 'Is there even a question?' I will always answer 'Here I am' whenever the IBEW calls."

The IBEW wishes Brother Easton much success in his new position.


John Easton Jr.

Louis M. Gauthier

The IBEW regrets to report that Louis M. Gauthier, former First District international representative, passed away Aug. 20. He was 86.

Born in Montreal, Brother Gauthier was initiated in 1966 into Montreal Local 2207 and transferred his membership the following year to Local 2142 (which then merged with Montreal Local 568). Gauthier worked as a temporary organizer on the Bell Canada organizing campaign during the mid-1960s, educating potential members on union-negotiated benefits including improved working conditions, higher wages, greater safety on the job and health insurance.

"He did very well," said retired Victoria, B.C., Local 230 member Jim Wolfgang, who hired Gauthier for the campaign. "He was fluently bilingual and very well liked."

He carried his telecommunications experience with him when he was assigned to the First District as an international representative in December of 1967, to service the telephone and other industrial units in Quebec. He served under then-Vice President William Ladyman. Gauthier remained in that position until his retirement in 1990.

Brother Gauthier also served as president of the housing committee on the Quebec Federation of Labour and was a member of several Canadian Federation of Labour committees, among them the Conversion to the Metric System.

Gauthier attended Montreal University and McGill University, earning a bachelor's degree in industrial relations. Additionally, he was a member of Optimists International and Lions International clubs.

"I enjoyed him as a personal friend as well as a colleague," Wolfgang said. "He was a good man."

On behalf of the IBEW membership, the officers and staff send our heartfelt condolences to Brother Gauthier's family and friends.


Louis M. Gauthier

William 'Bill' Warchow

The IBEW is saddened to report the death of former First District International Representative Bill Warchow, who died in September after a year-long battle with prostate cancer. He was 84.

Brother Warchow entered the trades as an electrician's apprentice in 1949, earning just CA$ 0.25 an hour at the outset of his career. In 1954, he was initiated into Ottawa Local 586, where he quickly rose through the ranks, serving in multiple offices from 1961 until he was elected business manager in 1968. Warchow held that position for six years before his appointment as international representative.

During his time as business manager, Warchow was instrumental in securing Ottawa's first provincial pension for construction locals, an achievement that required as many as 12 strikes during the 1950s and 1960s. Reflecting on those sacrifices many years later, Brother Warchow recalled then-International President Edwin D. Hill's remarks to young members at the 2011 IBEW Convention in Vancouver:

"You all are drinking from a well you never had to dig, warming by a fire you never had to build," Hill said, words that resonated with Warchow, who nearly lost his home during one strike that lasted 15 months.

As an international representative serving First District construction and maintenance locals, Brother Warchow sat for 23 years as labour representative on the Canadian Electrical Code committee and helped draft the Canada-wide reciprocal pension agreement that allowed retirement funds to follow IBEW members wherever they worked. He also served for nearly two decades on the General Presidents' Maintenance Committee as the IBEW's representative in Canada.

It was his sense of humor and love for the IBEW that left a lasting impression on his colleagues.

Jerry Wilson, a retired international representative and member of Kitchener, Ontario, Local 804, remembered Warchow from time spent together while Bill was chairman of the First District construction caucus. After retiring, the two would often see one another during retiree club activities.

"You always looked forward to seeing Bill," Wilson said. "He knew how to make people laugh, and he lived and breathed IBEW."

Fellow First District international representative and Local 586 retiree Thomas McGreevy said, "Bill was loyal to the core and so proud of his work for this union. He was a mentor to me and a mentor to a lot of people over the years."

It was Warchow's service to the IBEW post-retirement that made an impression on Local 586 Business Manager John Bourke. "When Bill retired in 1997, I can't say enough about the work he did with our retirees club. He brought it to life," Bourke said, growing the group from five at the start to as many as 65 on some occasions.

Wilson said that even in his final year, when Warchow was sick, he was determined to attend the Brotherhood's 39th International Convention in St. Louis. He had been to every convention since 1966, and died 10 days before the opening gavel on what would have been his 12th.

The officers, staff and membership of the IBEW extend our deepest condolences to Brother Warchow's wife, Anne; his four children; 11 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild and countless friends and colleagues.


William 'Bill' Warchow

Harrison West

We are saddened to announce the death of former International Representative Harrison West, who passed away in Sherwood, Ark., on July 26. He was 95.

Brother West was initiated into Little Rock Local 295 in 1942. He held various positions until being elected business manager in 1967.

He was named international representative in 1972 for what was then the Twelfth District, serving Arkansas and western Tennessee, until his retirement in 1987. (In 1998, the Twelfth District became the Tenth District, which includes Tennessee, Arkansas, and North and South Carolina.)

Brother West served as president of the Arkansas State Building and Construction Trades Council. He was a delegate to the 29th International Convention in Seattle in 1970, where he served on the Law Committee. He was a member of the Arkansas AFL-CIO's executive committee.

Former Local 295 President Royce Stewart said West remained active in the local's retirees club, despite fading eyesight in recent years. West was particularly moved when he was presented with his 70-year IBEW service pin in 2012 by local officials, Stewart said.

"He was proud to get that pin and that plaque," he said.

Stewart said West did a good job as a business manager of keeping Local 295 strong in a right-to-work state.

"He contributed a lot of time to the IBEW," said Stewart, who served as Local 295's president for 32 years. "He was a friend. I don't know of anyone who knew Harrison that didn't like him."

West was preceded in death by his wife Peggy and is survived by four daughters: Linda Henderson, Sandra Kindrick, Tracy Hammons and Ann Walker. He also is survived by eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

On behalf of the entire IBEW membership and staff, the officers extend our deepest condolences to Brother West's family and friends.


Harrison West