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December 2017

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Jammi Juarez

Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 organizer Jammi Juarez has been appointed the Membership Development Department's Director of Professional and Industrial Organizing, effective Oct. 1.

Juarez comes to the position after several years as a staff organizer for the nearly 20,000-member local, where she worked on successful political and organizing campaigns both at home and across the U.S.

"The IBEW changed my life," Juarez said, "and every opportunity I have to help someone else discover what this union can do for them and for their families is so incredibly important."

But Juarez didn't always know that organizing — or even the union — was in her blood. She started out as a service representative for Pacific Gas & Electric in 2006 and joined the IBEW as part of Local 1245. It would be four years before she'd get actively involved with the local.

"Honestly, I was a single mom with two daughters. I told myself I didn't have time or that it wasn't important," she said. "But I had a great business representative, Arlene Edwards, who kept asking, kept pushing me to get involved. In 2010, she broke me down, and I agreed to attend a training called 'Change the Narrative' about how to use more effective language when talking about unions."

Juarez said it was a decision that revealed her true calling. Within months, she was a shop steward and later served as recording secretary and vice chairperson for her unit at PG&E. She also began to work on political campaigns, first at home in California against a paycheck deception initiative, and later around the country, including battles against anti-worker laws in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.

"It became a lifestyle for me," Juarez said of the work she took on as one of Local 1245's member-organizers.

In 2013, Juarez was one of two organizers dispatched by Local 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell to assist Rockford, Ill., Local 364 in organizing Greenlee Tools, a manufacturer of equipment PG&E lineworkers used on a daily basis.

"That was a turning point for me," Juarez said. With fellow PG&E member-organizer Casey Salkauskas, the team from California spent 28 days on the ground doing house calls and having conversations with the plant's workers about why it was important for them to join together to fight for better working conditions.

A government shutdown delayed the vote and sent her back to California for a month, but Juarez and Salkauskas returned to Illinois for a second time in the two weeks leading up to the new vote. "We won with twice as many 'yes' votes than 'no' votes," she said, "and the feeling you get, knowing these people's lives have been totally changed, that's why I love organizing," she said.

More organizing victories followed, including one at Sun Optics, a skylight manufacturer in California, but Juarez credits her organizing success to Dalzell's vision and the expertise of the people who taught her along the way. "I had this amazing business manager who believes in hands-on training, and in putting the resources into organizing," she said. "He sent me all over the country to help improve the lives of others through the IBEW, and that level of enthusiasm and commitment is what I hope to bring to this new position."

In 2014, Juarez came on staff at her local as a full-time organizer and served for a time as business representative and organizer. She has served as an alternate delegate to the IBEW's International Convention, as a delegate to the Ninth District Progress Meeting and to meetings of the Electrical Workers' Minority Caucus, Reach Out and Engage Next-Generation Electrical Workers and the AFL-CIO's Next Up Young Workers Program, among others. In 2016, she received the Ninth District's "Above and Beyond" award for organizing.

Dalzell describes Juarez as a "natural-born organizer," who he always knew would be a star in the IBEW. It's something Stephenson saw in her as well from when they first met in 2011 fighting Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to eliminate collective bargaining for Wisconsin's public employees and again when she was organizing at Greenlee and he was Sixth District vice president.

"I'm confident that Sister Juarez is going to put her heart and soul into bringing the benefits of the IBEW to as many working people as possible, and I wish her all the best in her new role," he said.


Jammi Juarez

Jeff Rose

After nearly 40 years with the IBEW, Jeff Rose, district organizing coordinator for the 11th District, has retired, effective May 1.

Born in Marshalltown, Iowa, Brother Rose was initiated into Waterloo, Iowa, Local 288 in 1978. The journeyman inside wireman transferred to Des Moines, Iowa, Local 347 when work dried up 10 years later, he said, and to be closer to Rhonda, the woman who would become his wife.

Rose served two terms on Local 347's executive board before accepting an organizer position with the local in 1994. His tenure included working for two years on an initiative in Florida to increase market share, from 2006-2008, followed by another effort in Michigan. In 2009, 11th District Vice President Curtis Henke tapped him to be the district organizing coordinator, a position he held until his retirement.

"When you talk to Jeff about organizing, his eyes sparkle," said 11th District International Representative Jerry Kurimski. "He's a great motivator."

Rose credits much of his success to being organized himself. It wasn't until he was approached by Don Frost, then business manager of Local 288, while working at the University of Northern Iowa, that he considered joining.

"He told me that they had a lot of work, what the pay and benefits would be and that there was a pension, which I didn't have at the time," Rose said. "It was a no-brainer."

That experience gave him a better understanding of what nonunion workers go through, Rose said.

"Jeff was a major contributor to IBEW's organizing culture," said Doug Buchman, a Local 347 organizer who worked with Rose. "It was a lot harder in his day. The culture has really changed and he's a major factor in that."

Rose and his fellow organizers pioneered the practice of job fairs, which paired signatory contractors with nonunion electricians.

"His motto was 'get the information to them and let them decide.' It's something I adopted from him," Buchman said.

His team would visit all the nonunion contractors in an area and talk to them about the benefits of having a union workforce. They also got to know more about the competition.

"Are they really good, or do they have a station wagon with a ladder strapped to it? That kind of thing," he said.

Rose said the most rewarding parts of the job were the moments when someone would approach him and tell him how grateful they were for the union and how much it helped to have health insurance and a retirement to look forward to.

"He has the genuine ability to make everyone feel welcomed in a conversation, people respect that," said Local 347 Business Manager Patrick Wells. "It encourages them to participate."

Now that he's retired, Rose says he's enjoying spending time with his daughters Christina and Kelsey, and his four grandchildren. He's also fishing and golfing more, and planning a trip to Mexico with his wife.

"The IBEW has been everything to me. It's been my life," he said. "For so long, your phone is always going off, there's always email, then you retire and it all goes quiet. It's a big change, but it's a good one."

IBEW officers, members and staff are grateful to Brother Rose for his years of service and wish him the best in his retirement.


Jeff Rose

Guy Runco

Eighth District International Representative Guy Runco retired on July 1, capping a 42-year IBEW career that began and ended in his hometown of Pueblo, Colo.

Runco was hired as a groundman by Southern Colorado Power in 1974 and joined Pueblo Local 667, following in the footsteps of his father, Gaetano, a line crew foreman and a Local 667 member who served on its executive council. His mother, Dotti, worked for the Pueblo Board of Water Works and was a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

He went on to become a labor leader himself. Runco became a Local 667 steward and earned a spot on the executive council before being elected president in 1984.

"During my term as president, I got to see in a little more detail how everything worked and how the local operated." he said. "Once I did that, I knew I had some interest in that sort of thing, so I decided to run for business manager."

In 1987, he won his first term before being re-elected four more times. One of his proudest accomplishments was ensuring that no jobs were lost when Centel Electric, a major employer of Local 667 members, went through a merger, he said.

"I enjoyed the interaction with the members," Runco said. "I think I really had a good rapport with them. I've got to say, at the beginning of my first term, I spent a lot of time making sure companies were miserable. I did that for about a year before realizing I wasn't making any headway.

"After that, I tried to find common ground. Once I did that, I really did form a pretty good relationship with them."

In 1999, Runco was tapped by then-Eighth District International Representative Jon F. Walters — who later served as international secretary-treasurer — as an international representative.

"The time was right," he said. "The business manager, sooner or later, is going to get beat. The opportunity and the job itself, knowing I would be working and helping to resolve issues within locals, was certainly appealing."

Runco originally was assigned to local unions in eastern Montana, but his territory eventually spread to most of the Eighth District, which includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Ricky Oakland, assistant to the international president for membership development, worked with Runco while Oakland was the business manager at Casper, Wyo., Local 322. He remembers Runco being especially eager to help and not being intimidated by working with construction locals, even though he had a utility background.

That came through when he played a key role during a successful organizing drive at a Riverton, Wyo., electrical contractor that had been the largest nonunion electrical firm in the state, Oakland said.

"Whatever I needed, I could count on him," Oakland said. "I thought he was the best international representative I ever had when I was a business manager and I had a few of them."

Runco and his wife Kathie plan to keep their home in Pueblo while spending more time traveling and visiting with their five children and five grandchildren.

"I am grateful to the IBEW," he said. "I believe I owe it for pretty much everything I have. There were all the benefits of membership and I got to see the true benefits of collective bargaining. It was plain to me we would not have the wages we have without collective bargaining and the ability go out and negotiate."

The IBEW officers and staff thank Brother Runco for his service and wish him a long and happy retirement.


Guy Runco