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April 2019

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Martha Pultar

Broadcasting and Telecommunications Director Martha Pultar retired effective April 1, capping a 38-year career that took root around the age of 11 or 12, when she watched her mother — a member of Lawrence, Mass., Local 326 — walk the picket line during a strike against Massachusetts Electric Company.

"It was a tough time," she said. "My father had gotten laid off and my mother was on strike."

Even during difficult times, however, she saw the value of workers organizing. Sister Pultar became an IBEW member herself in 1981, when she was hired by New England Telephone to work in operator services and joined North Andover, Mass., Local 2321. She went on to serve as a steward before being named assistant business manager in 1988, serving in that role until being named a telecommunications international representative in 2001.

In 2004, then-International President Edwin D. Hill named her the department's director and she oversaw its merger with the Broadcasting Department in 2011. During Pultar's tenure, the IBEW strengthened its longstanding national agreements with CBS and Fox Sports. It also protected members' gains in telecommunications despite rapid changes in technology and consolidation within the industry.

"Martha never sought any attention for herself, but her determination and ability to work with others helped us maintain trusted relationships with our partners, even when we had our differences," International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. "Her commitment to our union is total and I'm honored to call her a sister. She's leaving a very strong foundation in telecommunications and broadcasting."

Added Telecommunications International Representative Kevin Curran: "It was an honor and a privilege to work with Martha for nearly nine years. She's been a tremendous asset to the IBEW and a great mentor. More importantly, she's been a great friend."

A native of Lowell, Mass., Sister Pultar was a delegate to International Conventions in 1991, 1996 and 2001 and also served as traffic chairperson for System Council T-6, which represents New England telecommunications locals. Following three years as an international representative, she was promoted to Telecommunications Director.

"I owe Ed Hill a lot," she said. "He took a chance on a young woman to head the department. And when it was time to merge the departments, I was glad he respected me enough to put me in charge."

The merger went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011. It was done because of the blurring of the lines between broadcasting and telecommunications

"What always impressed me about Martha was that from the day the departments were merged, she showed so much care and thoughtfulness and put in so much hard work for our broadcasting members," Broadcasting International Representative Vinny Butler said. "That also came through in her dealings with business managers, negotiating committees and speaking to members during visits to stations and remotes."

"I've known Martha for close to 20 years and I've always been proud to call her a friend," said International Representative Robert Prunn, who is succeeding Pultar as director. "She has been a leader in telecommunications for a long time, and many local unions and members across the country have benefited from her knowledge and, more importantly, her friendship."

In retirement, Pultar and her husband, Frederick, who works as a machinist for NASA, will move to Orlando, Fla., to be closer to relatives who live on both sides of the Sunshine State. They plan to spend more time with their four grown children and five grandchildren and also to do more traveling, with trips to Italy and Iceland already planned.

Elizabeth Littell, Pultar's daughter, works as a senior contract analyst at the International Office in Washington, D.C. Her husband, Kevin, is a Washington Local 26 apprentice.

Pultar noted that all of her children graduated from college. Union membership made that possible, she said.

"I'm very grateful to the IBEW," she said. "What we do are not just jobs. It's more of a vocation. If you want to be a worker's advocate, you take on that role and it becomes a lifestyle. That's always been important to me. In our staff around here now, you see the belief in the labor movement."

The IBEW's officers and staff thank Sister Pultar for her service and wish her a long and happy retirement.


Martha Pultar