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August 2017

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Larry P. Reidenbach

After 38 years of service to the IBEW, Senior Executive Assistant to the International Secretary-Treasurer Larry P. Reidenbach retired Aug. 1.

Brother Reidenbach joined Racine, Wis., Local 430 in 1979, leaving a college engineering program.

"I had to take a class about speaking to non-engineers in college, all about doing presentations and leading meetings and I thought 'I don't want to do any of that,'" Reidenbach said. "I have used what I was supposed to learn in the class but the main thing I took away was that I liked being outside, liked building things and wanted to have more freedom than you got in an office."

Reidenbach's mother was a garment workers' union activist and helped organize the Burlington textile plant where she worked in the '60s, but it was a friend's father who introduced him to the IBEW. When he started applying, work was so slow the local wasn't starting many apprentices.

Reidenbach worked 17 years with the tools. On one of his first jobs, he was sent down to a Lake Michigan beach with a shovel and told to dig a 40-foot trench. It was a warm summer day. The sun was out. It was, he said, what he wanted.

"The weather wasn't always as great, but the work was always rewarding," he said.

"When I topped out in 1982 I grabbed a tramp guide and went on the road and I was working and happy," he said. "One day I was talking about work with a guy from Madison Local 159 — I don't remember his name unfortunately — and I was telling him things were going good."

The guy stopped Reidenbach and asked him how far away from home he was.

"And when I told him about seven hours he asked, 'Well how good are things really?' and that made sense," he said. "I got involved to try and turn things around, win back the work we were losing."

Reidenbach thanked former Local 430 business manager Wayne Molitor for encouraging him to run.

Brother Reidenbach was elected to Local 430's executive board in 1987. A year later he was elected vice president, a position he held for three years. In 1990, he was elected president, and when Molitor retired in 1995, Reidenbach was selected by the executive board to finish out the term. He successfully ran for re-election in 1996 and 1999.

"We needed to get more involved and we did. We started approaching customers — business development before we called it that — and we grew by over 50 percent while I was business manager," he said.

Labor-related activities have included membership on the United Way Labor Advisory Committee and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Standing Committee for Building Trades. He has also served on the United Way board of directors.

In 2002, Reidenbach was appointed by International President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill as the reciprocal administrator at the International Office.

"I was looking for a challenge," Reidenbach said. "I'd been a traveler before reciprocity and left some money around so I really appreciated what the reciprocity system did for the membership."

Reidenbach said his primary task in the job was overseeing the transition from a paper-based system to the Electronic Reciprocal Transfer System, which allows traveling workers to maintain their benefits at their home local. A year later the position was folded into the Pension Department and Hill appointed Reidenbach to run it.

In 2007, Reidenbach was appointed executive assistant to the international secretary-treasurer. In addition to assisting the IST managing the IBEW's health, general and pension funds, he oversaw day-to-day operations of five IBEW departments including Per Capita, Accounting, Personnel, Investments and, his old department, Pension. He was also responsible for managing the operations of the building owned by the IBEW that serves as its international headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"It was plenty to fill the day, that is for sure," he said.

"There are so many paths to success in the IBEW and organized labor," he said. "I don't understand why everyone doesn't join. On your own you have no power."

In his retirement, Brother Reidenbach will relocate to near Nashville, Tenn., to be equidistant to the families of his children and close to the music he loves. He plans to go "hiking, fishing, camping, hunting and anything else that ends in 'ing."

He plans to walk the length of one of the most important Catholic pilgrimages in Europe: the 400-mile journey across the Pyrenees to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, known as the Road to Santiago, or simply the Way.

"The total distance we will walk is still under negotiations with the missus though," he said.

The officers, staff and members of the Brotherhood thank Brother Reidenbach for his years of dedication and wish him a long, active and joyful retirement.


Larry P. Reidenbach

Darrin Golden

Illinois-native Darrin Golden has been appointed Senior Executive Assistant to the International Secretary-Treasurer, replacing Larry Reidenbach, who retired. Brother Golden comes to the position having served the last three years as director of the Council on Industrial Relations/Bylaws and Appeals Department. International President Lonnie R. Stephenson's appointment of Golden took effect Aug. 1.

"I'm deeply humbled and honored to be entrusted with this responsibility," Golden said. "To be coming into this job only a few months after the appointment of International Secretary-Treasurer [Kenneth W.] Cooper, and to have the chance to work side-by-side with him on some of the most important issues facing this Brotherhood is not something either of us takes lightly."

In his new role, Brother Golden will assist Cooper in all of the duties and responsibilities under the IST's jurisdiction, including every financial function of the IBEW as well as oversight of the Engineering, Pension and Reciprocity, Per Capita, Accounting, Personnel and Investment departments within the International Office.

"It's an enormous job," Golden said, "but I'd like to think everything I've done up and to this point has prepared me to tackle it with the same level of enthusiasm and hard work I've always tried to give to the IBEW."

Those life-shaping experiences for Golden started just two weeks after graduating high school, when he enlisted and served four years active duty in the U.S. Navy and another four in the reserves. Working as a Naval Aircrewman on and around helicopters and airplanes, he said, taught him the importance of discipline, attention to details and checklists.

After honorable discharge from active duty in the US Navy, there was really only one option. "I've been IBEW since the day I was born," Golden said, noting that his father recently earned his 50-year pin from the Brotherhood. "This union is very much a part of who I am – it's always been more personal than an occupation for me." Golden was initiated in Rockford, Ill., Local 364 in 1991, topping out as a journeyman inside wireman five years later.  In 1992 he became an apprenticeship instructor, teaching the 3rd year of the Inside apprenticeship for eight years.  In 1997, he was first elected as an Executive Board Member for two consecutive terms, and in 2002, he was hired into the local union office as an organizer. That job, he said, was the most rewarding because he got to sell the IBEW lifestyle to others.  In 2004, Golden was elected vice president of his local, and just three years later, he took the reins as business manager, serving from 2007 until his appointment to the International Office in 2013.

During his 22-year career at Local 364, Golden took advantage of a wealth of educational opportunities available to him. He is a graduate of the National Labor College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in union leadership and administration, and of the University of Baltimore, where he was awarded a Master of Public Administration degree. He has also attended Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation and graduated from the National Training Institute for Apprenticeship Instructors at the University of Tennessee.
In Washington, Golden says his service leading the CIR/Bylaws and Appeals Department has provided valuable insight into labor-managment disputes and how they escalate from minor irritations into full-blown grievances.  From the local union to the international office, Golden has always advocated for lowest level conflict resolution.

"At CIR, we're involved every step of the way, from mediation to arbitration with CIR panels to observing how the results of a particular decision are applied back at the local level," Golden said. "Most of the time, we get it right and the litigants sometimes don't always get what they want but they almost always get what they need." It is a unique process by which signatory contractors and IBEW leaders manage labor disputes before they lead to work stoppages, Golden says, it is invaluable to the industry and a testament to the visionary leaders who set up the process nearly 100 years ago.

Golden plans to take all of that knowledge and experience with him as he approaches his next challenge. "I can't say enough about the amazing work Larry Reidenbach has done in this job over the last decade," he said. "What our officers at the IBEW do every day is so extraordinary, and I'm excited for the opportunity to serve IST Cooper and the entire membership of this great Brotherhood.

"I've always been willing to push myself, and if I can do one thing or 100 things to make the lives of our members better," he said, "I'll do it every day and twice on Sundays."


Darrin Golden

Linda Mathews

International Representative Linda Mathews retired on June 30, capping a 38-year career in which she went from a cashier for her local utility to training the IBEW's future leaders.

Mathews joined Kansas City, Mo., Local 1613 when she was hired to work at Kansas City Power & Light in 1979. But her supervisors there and Local 1613 officers later realized she had a knack for computers. She designed the local's first website in the mid-1990s while working in the utility's telecommunications department.

"I've always been a real gadget girl, trying to check out all the newest technology," she said.

"Because of that, I was really pushing technology on the labor movement to try to leverage our power with our members," Mathews said. "If we didn't embrace these things, they would be used as weapons against us. We needed to use them to our benefit."

Mathews served as a steward and was elected Local 1613's president in 1995. In those years, she struck up a friendship with then-Secretary-Treasurer Edwin D. Hill.

"I was always telling him things I thought the IBEW should be doing," she said. "When he became president, he started talking about me possibly coming on staff and updating a lot of the processes."

Hill was appointed international president in 2001 and Mathews joined the international staff a year later, during her third term as the Local 1613 president. She was assigned to the Utility Department, where she upgraded processes using databases in place of paper records that made it easier to access key information in a timely fashion.

Mathews also coordinated the department's annual conference and was the lead international representative on issues involving technical and clerical classifications.

Former Utility Department Director Jim Hunter started at the International Office at the same time as Mathews.

"Within two years of us starting, the whole department was new, so we could not do it as it had always been done because we didn't know what that was," Hunter said. "Linda's computer skills and dedication to the membership helped push the department into the modern age."

Mathews credited her father, Virgil Hamman, who was a member of Kansas City Local 1464, as a big influence. She also described him as a gadget guru.

"He moved around through different classifications until he found his perfect fit, just like many of us do," she said. "He started in underground utilities then went into fleet services as a mechanic. Finally, he found this perfect place in tree trimming. He provided a real strong presence."

In 2009, Mathews was re-assigned to the Education Department and provided training for business managers, officers and members of locals in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. It allowed her to move to Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks area, where she plans to live during retirement.

"I am comfortable leaving knowing that things are in good hands," she said. "So much of our new leadership is younger and ready to take the helm. It is soothing to me to know that."

Mathews plans to spend more time with her children, Christian and Heather, and her seven grandchildren. The IBEW officers and staff thank her for her service and wish her a long and happy retirement.


Linda Mathews