July 2018
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Also In This Issue Brotherhood Next Door
Off-Broadway Play Celebrates Local 3's Electchester read_more

Stand and Fight
Massachusetts Members Push Back on Philips' Mexico Move read_more

North of 49°
IBEW Joins 'Just Transition' Task Force for Coal 
Workers read_more

Au nord du 49° parallèle
La FIOE se joint au groupe de travail sur « la transition équitable » pour les travailleurs du charbon read_more





Change of Address




Cover Photo

Nearly 700 Atlanta Gas Light Workers Join the Brotherhood

In life and in organizing, the longest odds make for the sweetest victories. Given what they faced, the election victory of nearly 700 Atlanta Gas Light workers April 19 and the creation of Atlanta Local 1997 is like biting into a fresh-picked peach on an August afternoon.

When the drive began, it had so much against it. Deep in the right-to-work South in a state with one of the lowest union densities in the country, members were spread between 23 service centers from Rome in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to Savannah on the Atlantic coast, more than 350 miles away. A previous union had been decertified and four subsequent organizing attempts had failed.

"It was always going to be hard," said Assistant to the International President for Membership Development Ricky Oakland. "We had some things going our way, but no one thought this was a sure thing."

What they had, Oakland said, was a platoon of volunteer organizers who had no quit in them, a strategy to make use of them and organizers, led by Fifth District Regional Organizing Coordinator Joseph Skinner, who would walk through walls to get it done.

"From the first meeting to the last house call, we executed it perfectly," Oakland said.

Rebirth of a Union

Until 2004, most of AGL's gas technicians, troublemen, appliance repairmen, pipefitters and meter readers were members of the Teamsters.

Steve Galloway, a 30-year veteran AGL field specialist, was a chief steward and sat on the negotiating committee for three contracts with the Teamsters. But he supported the decertification and, when the IBEW tried to organize the utility in 2006 and again in 2012, he sat it out.

"I didn't think our previous representation was doing anything good, and I was skeptical about anyone new," he said.

But in the summer of 2015, Southern Company — the second-largest utility company in the U.S. — announced it was buying AGL. The takeover was completed in 2016. AGL workers were making less than union utility workers in Georgia — in some cases up to $10 less an hour. After the merger, Galloway said, things got worse.

They were switched to a Southern health plan that cost more. Pensions were changed. Bonuses at AGL were $10,000 lower than at Southern subsidiary Georgia Power. read_more

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Officers Column Stephenson:
Thank a Lineman read_more
Federal Union Busting read_more

TransitionsThomas P. Van Arsdale;
Michael Richard;
Brian Threadgold;
Timothy D. Bowden;
Tom Davis;
Rick Ellis read_more

PoliticsRight-to-Work Vote Means Hot Summer Showdown in the Show-Me State;
Law Repealing Bank Rules Opens the Door to Another Great Recession;
Repeal of Tax Hike on Union Members and Traveling Workers Stalls read_more

Organizing WireAnother IBEW Win
in the South read_more

CircuitsPhoenix Couple Rides
Cross-Country for Cancer read_more

LettersProud to Be a Puerto Rican IBEW Member;
The Union Difference
in Alabama;
Government for the Rich;
Giving Thanks for an
IBEW Career;
Solidarity Wins read_more

In MemoriamMay 2018 read_more

Who We AreDC Member's Path from Prison to Redemption read_more