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February 2021

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Dale Dunlop

Retired International Representative Dale Dunlop, who finished a long career at the International Office serving as executive assistant to International Secretary Jack F. Moore, died Dec. 5 at his home in Reston, Va. He was 74.

"He was a good person and a really good friend," said retired Investments Director Tina Thoman, who remained close with Dunlop and his wife, Sue, for 40 years. "Not only to me but a lot of people within the IBEW."

A native of Meriden, Conn., Brother Dunlop graduated from Wagner College with a bachelor's degree in economics and served in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1970. Following discharge, he was hired to work as an analyst in the Research Department.

He had not been a member of a labor union, but he was familiar with the IBEW. Chester Dunlop, Dale's father, was a member of New Haven, Conn., Local 90 and served as its president. His son often worked as an electrician's helper during the summer, Sue Dunlop said.

Brother Dunlop didn't earn his Local 90 card until 1980, after he briefly returned to Connecticut and worked for a janitorial company where the employees were IBEW-represented. He later returned to Washington, continuing to work in research and was appointed an international representative in 1988.

"One thing that was always important to him was credibility," said Neil Gladstein, who was hired to work in the Research Department in 1985. "When you're a researcher, a lot of people don't know you but they have to trust what you say. Making sure you were as accurate as possible was so important.

"He was really good at knowing what was important in making you effective and helping the reps in the field while not getting caught up in the noise around him. He treated people with dignity and he got a lot of respect not just from us, but from people in other departments."

Brother Dunlop represented the IBEW on several government and union panels, including the Labor Research Committee to the Department of Labor; the Labor Department's Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy; and the AFL-CIO Health Task Force. He was promoted to executive assistant in 1998.

But reciprocity may have been where he made his greatest impact. Dunlop worked with others to update the IBEW's system, culminating with the introduction of the web-based Electronic Reciprocal Transfer System in 2002. The move ensured greater accuracy and security in transferring pension and benefit payments for members working outside their home local's jurisdiction.

"If you talk to people who went out and had to deal [with reciprocity] before that, they would tell you how big a move forward it was," said Jim Combs, who succeeded Dunlop as executive assistant to the secretary/treasurer. "It took the brotherhood ahead big time."

Dunlop retired in 2002. He was an active volunteer throughout his life, even though he rarely talked about it publicly. Sue Dunlop noted her husband remained in close contact with three adult men he mentored many years earlier as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

He tutored elementary school students, including a long stint at the Laurel Learning Center in Reston, and was a longtime youth basketball and baseball coach. He briefly came out of retirement in 2005, when he represented the IBEW and traveled to the New Orleans area to distribute funds and jump-start rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

He also was an avid triathlon competitor and marathon runner and convinced several International Office staff members to take up running.

"I fell for it hook, line and sinker, and I'm still a runner to this day," said Thoman, who retired in 2012 after a 35-year career. "I owe him for a lot of things and not necessarily all work related. He was a mentor. He had a strong moral compass. If you ask 10 out of 10 people who knew Dale, they'll tell you he was just a good person who gave of himself."

Sue Dunlop met Dale when they attended Wagner College together and she later worked for many years at the AFL-CIO, including a stint as executive assistant to the vice president. He also is survived by a son, Michael, and two brothers.

"He was 100% reliable," Sue said. "If he was on your side, you did not need anyone else. He was an honest, decent, smart person. He was kind and he was a great husband."

The officers and staff send their condolences to Brother Dunlop's family and many friends during this difficult time.


Dale Dunlop

James A. Dotson

After 40 years of dedicated service to IBEW members, International Representative James A. Dotson, organizing coordinator for the Sixth District, retired effective Nov. 15.

Growing up, neither electrical work nor organizing had been on Dotson's career radar, at least at first. In 1977, he graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry.

"Jim is clearly a very logical and mathematical guy," said International Vice President David Ruhmkorff, whose Sixth District jurisdiction serves IBEW members in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. "A lot of us tend to think that way."

Dotson did have some family ties to the electrical trade, though. "My brother-in-law was IBEW," he said, while Dotson's brother had started his own electrical contracting company in the 1960s. "I worked with him every weekend and nights."

That company, though, was nonunion at the time. "So, when I came into the IBEW as a journeyman," he said, "I started out as a 'white paper' member." A practice at the time found some locals taking on nonunion laborers and letting them pay partial IBEW dues. These men and women were provided with dues receipts that were white, in contrast to the traditional yellow slips carried by full members.

Eventually, Dotson was fully initiated into the IBEW as a member of his hometown Flint, Mich., Local 948, and between 1980 and 1985 he continued working with the tools. "I became a superintendent for an electrical contractor out of Detroit, working on GM plants around the country," he said. "There was a lot of traveling." The experience helped him connect with hundreds of workers in the U.S. and Canada, he said.

A few years later, he was prompted to get more actively and directly involved with the union. "One of my best friends, Charlie Marshall, was running for business manager, and he encouraged me to run for office, too," Dotson explained.

In 1992, Brother Dotson began an 18-year stint as the Local 948 organizer. "We organized to beat the band in the 90s," he said with a laugh. "It was a lot of 'turn and burn' until you almost can't get any contractor to talk to you anymore."

Dotson's approach was unique, said Wisconsin State Organizing Coordinator Dave Jungbluth. "His passion for improving the lives of unrepresented workers would surface in his presentations, when his speaking style would resemble that of a preacher delivering a sermon," he said.

"We were always on the leading edge of organizing," Dotson said of his time in Flint, estimating that the local's efforts helped not only to add scores of new IBEW members but also to nearly double the wage ratio for nonunion workers.

"Brother Dotson never failed to recognize that his greatest reward is knowing that he helped change the lives of workers and their families by giving them an opportunity and a path to a great career with the IBEW," said Mark Toaz, the SOC for Michigan.

Dotson said he led organizing and salting breakout sessions at several international conventions.

"He developed his own course for salting," Ruhmkorff said, "and he taught it throughout Sixth District even when he was still at the local. It wasn't just about doing; it was about passing along what he had learned."

In 2010, then-International President Edwin Hill appointed Dotson to serve as Indiana's SOC, a role he held until 2017.

"Jim has a mind for organizing," said Eric Jackson, Dotson's Hoosier State successor, "which aligned perfectly with his compassion for working men and women."

One of Dotson's accomplishments as an SOC was his role on a team that helped secure IBEW membership for more than 300 Sears service technicians in the Great Lakes region. Those men and women ratified their first collective bargaining agreement between Sears and Chicago Local 134 in 2013.

Based on Ruhmkorff's recommendation, in 2017 International President Lonnie R. Stephenson appointed Dotson as organizing coordinator for the Sixth District.

"We continued to move things along out of that office," Dotson said. "We have some great state organizers. Our thing was consistency: making sure people got the same information from Minnesota to southern Indiana."

"He believed strongly that anyone in the trade should be brought into the IBEW, and in making the IBEW competitive," said Minnesota SOC Derek Mensink.

For the past year, travel restrictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 have kept Dotson working from home, so for retirement, he said, "I would love just to get the hell out of the house. I used to drive 900 to 1,000 miles a week. It's hard to stop."

"He has positively touched so many electrical workers' lives throughout his noteworthy career, helping to give them the gift of IBEW membership," said Illinois SOC Charlie Laskonis, "which in turn has made our brotherhood that much stronger.

Nevertheless, Dotson is getting used to slowing down, he said. "I'm setting up a little workshop in my house, and we've got a cruise out of Australia booked for 2022."

Dotson and his wife, Anita, are the proud parents of five children — four daughters as well as one son who's now a fourth-year apprentice with Local 948. "The IBEW and these brothers and sisters have been very good to me," Dotson said. "I've been damn lucky I got into the IBEW."

The officers and staff wish Brother Dotson a long and happy retirement.


James A. Dotson