The Electrical Worker online
June 2021

index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Pat Lavin

After a 55-year career, rising from a summer helper to one of the longest serving members of the International Executive Council, Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47 Business Manager Pat Lavin retired March 31.

When Lavin took over Local 47 in 1999, it was a 4,500-member utility-style local. Today, it is a nearly 14,000-member behemoth with members in nearly 200 classifications spread over 80,000 square miles.

"[Former International President] Ed Hill used to say that Pat always told him what he needed to hear, not always what he wanted to hear and when he disagreed with Pat, he usually lived to regret it," said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. "I have found this to be true as well. Pat has been an indispensable voice in the brotherhood, a trusted advisor and a great friend."

Brother Lavin was born in Chicago and joined Local 9 as a summer helper before his junior year in high school, lying about his age to join his father, John, a 39-year journeyman wireman and lineman.

He returned the following summer and then came on full-time in 1968, working for a year, long enough to get his yellow ticket and the card number he kept for the next half century.

In 1969, he interrupted his IBEW career and, at the height of the Vietnam War, volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps.

"My whole family served," Lavin said. "I thought it was my obligation."

His card never lapsed; his grandmother paid his dues for three years, and when he returned to Chicago, he enrolled at the University of Illinois and started working summers again.

In 1974, he returned full-time to Local 9 as a construction lineman for the next decade.

Lavin had been based with the Pacific Fleet in San Diego for much of his military service and the California bug bit hard. In 1984, Lavin applied and was hired at Southern California Edison. He transferred to Local 47 and moved with his then-wife Ellen and three kids to a new life in sunny Orange County.

For the next 16 years, Lavin worked at SCE and municipal utilities in Azusa and Anaheim, changing membership between Local 47 and Los Angeles Local 18 as he moved from job to job. In 1994 he worked in the Anaheim Utility engineering office planning jobs, but Lavin said he was bored and after an unsuccessful bid to organize the engineers he returned to the tools.

Lavin also completed his college degree, receiving a bachelor's in organizational management in 1995 through a program negotiated in the local's collective bargaining agreement.

In 1997, he went to work for Local 47, but, he said, he didn't get along with the business manager and left after six weeks and returned to Anaheim as a troubleman. He returned to SCE in 1998 as a foreman in the Saddleback District.

As 1999 began, Lavin had, in a sense, arrived. He loved the work and the people he worked with. He loved running jobs close to home under the palm trees and bright sunshine.

But the local election was in June and he was being pushed by a block of members who, like him, didn't like the way the local was being run.

"We were always at war with Edison, but we never won a battle," Lavin said. "I was convinced I could do better."

He ran and won by three votes in a bitterly disputed election that eventually involved the Labor Department.

When he took over, Local 47 had 4,500 members and was at loggerheads with SCE, which employed two-thirds of the local's members.

Soon after taking office, Lavin signed a benefits contract — wages and working conditions were handled under a separate agreement — ending a two-year deadlock. He also hit the road, visiting each of the local's more than 50 units, beginning one of the hallmarks of his leadership.

"I was available. If you called, I picked up the phone," Lavin said. "I said plenty of things that probably pissed people off, but if you had a problem, you didn't have to keep it a secret."

But SCE was in deep trouble. California deregulated the utility business in the '90s and the state was in near chaos.

"Things were crazy. Brown outs. PG&E bankrupt. Enron and those other companies stole $75 billion out of our state," Lavin said. "SCE owed us $10,000 in dues and was teetering."

Once, he said the CEO's corporate credit card was cut off during lunch and Lavin picked up the tab.

"Utilities don't have a lot of friends and a bunch of people told me to help them push into bankruptcy when they were teetering. But utilities give jobs to 80% of our members, and we need them to succeed," Lavin said. "But I never forgot they were a $15 billion corporation."

In 2001, there was a surprise opening on the IEC. Hill wanted a California lineman, Lavin said, and he was one. Of course, not just any lineman would do and there were political considerations, but, Lavin said, he didn't have much of a personal relationship with Hill at that time. Hill appointed him to the seat in the summer and Lavin was elected to it later that year at the San Francisco International Convention.

So began a 20-year run on the IEC, the longest in a half century.

"The job of the IEC is to help the International President. Period. You can never lose sight of that," Lavin said. "There is an aspect of checks and balances. If he does something that you are convinced is not beneficial, you can and should ask useful questions. That is how you both help the brotherhood and last."

If the new millennium saw chaos nearly devour the utility business, it also saw a massive increase in demand for the services of Local 47's membership.

Beyond the natural growth of the utilities, Lavin said there were three drivers of the 10,000-member expansion on his watch.

First, Local 47 regained jurisdiction it had lost in 1982, including the Outside Construction classification and about 1,000 linemen.

Then, in 2009, after nearly a decade of trying, Lavin negotiated a master PLA for transmission, substation and distribution work over a certain dollar amount. Four years later, that dollar limit was removed, and the PLA expanded to cover line clearance and telecom work.

"That drove all the nonunion contractors off the property or to us," Lavin said. "That's how you drive growth; you command the work."

Finally, Lavin said that California IBEW locals worked together to support politicians and get legislation passed that both increased the demand for utility workers and made the jobs more attractive, like SB 247, which raised training standards, wages and benefits for line-clearance workers after a series of devastating forest fires traceable to utility facilities. Lavin estimates 6,000 union line-clearance workers have joined the IBEW across the state since it passed.

And those engineers in Anaheim that didn't sign on in 1994? They are members now.

Please join the officers in wishing a long healthy retirement for Brother Lavin, newly married to Dianne. The pair are both vaccinated against COVID-19 and planning to break out of quarantine to travel across the U.S. and Europe and spend time with their 11 grandchildren.

It'll be easy for him to stay in touch with Local 47 at the same time he sees some of those grandkids. The Executive Board appointed his son Colin to replace him.

"They're in good hands. I taught him everything I know, including to have a mind of his own," he said. "I owe everything I have to the IBEW. It was the great honor of my life to be a member and serve the brotherhood the best I could."


Pat Lavin

Ross Galbraith

Former Eighth District International Executive Council member Ross Galbraith has been appointed to serve as international representative for the First District. In assuming his new role, Galbraith stepped down from the IEC, effective April 1.

"I want to acknowledge the contribution that Ross made on behalf of the members he represented across both Canada and the IBEW at large on the IEC. He served with distinction and I am confident that he will serve the members of the First District well as an international representative," said IEC Chairman Chris Erikson. "I enjoyed being in both his and his wife Krista's company. They are a great team."

Galbraith's new duties include servicing 11 locals throughout Atlantic Canada, with three in his home province of New Brunswick, five in Nova Scotia and three in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"It's a really diverse and interesting group of local unions doing a lot of important work," Galbraith said. "I'm really looking forward to working with them."

Leaving the IEC, which he joined in January 2013, as well as his other position as Fredericton Local 37 business manager, wasn't easy, Galbraith said.

"Those are hard things to move on from, but I've always been the sort of person willing to take on new challenges. And it's good that others get to try out the roles I was blessed to have."

Galbraith says the biggest highlight from his time on the IEC was the decision to appoint Lonnie R. Stephenson to succeed retiring International President Edwin D. Hill.

"That will forever be a part of the history of the IBEW," he said. "I'll never forget being a part of that process."

While other major events like the 39th International Convention in St. Louis will always stand out, Galbraith says other duties that more directly helped members also stay with him.

"The things that stand out are all the times I was able to help a member who had a pension issue or some other kind of problem," Galbraith said. "In the big picture of things the IEC deals with, those might seem like small items, but to that member it could be a huge issue. I've always been grateful for the opportunities I've had to help a rank-and-file member."

As the Eighth IEC District representative, Galbraith was tasked with being the voice for all of Canada on the IBEW's main governing board, something he says he never took lightly and was proud to do.

"That's a giant responsibility and a huge honour," Galbraith said. "Although our two nations are a lot alike, there are some significant differences in the way we look at things. International President Stephenson, International Secretary-Treasurer Cooper and all of the other international officers, whether they were my colleagues on the IEC or the international vice presidents, were always very respectful and very interested in understanding the Canadian point of view. I really think that's the strength of the IBEW, the fact that all these different ideas and viewpoints are on the table. That diversity makes us strong and it's something I'm very proud of."

While he's no longer tasked with officially representing all of Canada, he says he'll forever champion his country.

"I'll always carry the maple leaf flag," Galbraith said. "You cut me, I bleed maple syrup."

First District International Vice President Thomas Reid met Galbraith a number of years ago when Local 37 was involved in an organizing drive at an independent short line railroad company called New Brunswick Southern Rail. Galbraith was at that time a relatively new assistant business manager with Local 37 and Reid was the district organizing coordinator for Eastern Canada.

"Ross and I were paired up and assigned a number of house calls to execute around the province. This meant we spent a good deal of time that weekend traveling together between addresses and we had the opportunity to talk and get to know one another. I learned about Ross's love for and his commitment to his family as well as his and his father's lifelong passion for harness racing. I also learned and knew at that time that Ross had a bright and long future ahead of him in the IBEW.

"When he later became business manager of Local 37 it was of course no surprise to me. When he was appointed to the IEC, again no surprise here. It was the right choice. Ross has a work ethic second to none. He's very intelligent, articulate and always does the needed research or prep work before tackling any task he's challenged with. He will indeed be an invaluable asset to the locals he's assigned to service, as well as an asset to all members of IBEW Canada and the First District staff."

Galbraith, a New Brunswick native who holds a degree in chemical engineering technology, was initiated into then-Local 2309 in 1993, which later merged with Local 1733 to form Local 37 in 2000. In addition to the numerous hats he's worn with the IBEW, Galbraith is also deeply engaged as a citizen, having been active on many committees and boards at the municipal, provincial and national level. He's currently a board member of the Canadian Nuclear Association and vice-chair of the New Brunswick Public Service Pension Plan Board of Trustees.

"Every time I've been asked to do something, I've seen it as a gift," Galbraith said. "It's one of the great things about the IBEW and unions in general. There are so many opportunities to make a difference and become a leader."

Galbraith says the IBEW isn't the largest union in the region, but it's earned the respect of those who follow labour issues, a reputation he intends to uphold.

"We've always punched above our weight," he said. "It really boils down to following the principles of the Code of Excellence and continuously looking for ways to improve how we do things. I've always said that the IBEW takes a backseat to no one."

On behalf of the membership and staff of the IBEW, the officers wish Brother Galbraith all the best in his new position and thank him for his service to the International Executive Council.


Ross Galbraith

Leroy J. Chincio Jr.

Honolulu local 1260 Business Manager Leroy J. Chincio Jr. has been appointed by IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson to represent the International Executive Council's Seventh District.

His appointment, unanimously approved by the IEC, fills the unexpired of term of Patrick Lavin, who retired on March 31.

After graduating from Leilehua High School, Chincio was initiated into the IBEW in 1991 when he started working at the Hawaiian Electric Company as a helper first class at the utility's Waiau Power Plant.

"My grandfather William retired from the IBEW," Chincio said. He worked at HECO back when it sold ice for cold storage as well as electricity. "He was a union member for 40-plus years. It was a great job that let him provide for our family."

Today, Hawaiian Electric provides electricity for most of Hawaii's residents on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the island of Hawaii. "Every time HECO has an opening, thousands of people apply," Chincio said. "I was lucky I got in."

Chincio eventually worked his way up to become superintendent of construction management. "I owe my career to the IBEW," he said.

At Local 1260, Chincio has worked as an organizer and on the safety and joint apprenticeship committees, and he also served two terms as assistant business manager, starting in 2008 and 2016. Among his proudest accomplishments as a union activist: his successful efforts to better the lives of his fellow members.

"Control operators at the Keahole Power Plant were being paid less than operators at other plants," he said. "I worked with the operators and HELCO management for a wage increase to make their wages equal." He was able to do the same for the utility's customer service representatives.

And when Keahole's control operators wanted to switch to a modified 12-hour schedule, Chincio helped workers and managers negotiate an acceptable solution that helped improve the workers' quality of life.

From 2013 to 2014, Chincio was director of the National Utility Contractors Association's Hawaii chapter. Until his swearing-in as business manager last July, he had been representing the local's Unit 3 on the executive board.

Chincio said his appointment to the IEC has been one of the biggest honors of his life, and that he was shocked when Ninth District International Vice President John J. O'Rourke called him on Feb. 16 to tell him he was under consideration to replace Lavin.

"I know Pat as a legend," Chincio said. "I've seen him at IBEW meetings and conferences. We bonded over being linemen. He's leaving big shoes to fill.

"The reason I will always remember the date, is that it's Lyn's birthday," he added. His wife, Lyn, died in 2019. "It almost felt like fate. It was an emotional day."

For Local 1260, it's been a rough few years. In 2016, some of its leaders and employees were accused of fraud (and are currently awaiting trial). In that time, the local was placed in IBEW trusteeship to identify new leaders, clean up the finances and restore trust among the membership.

"We had some challenges," Chincio said. "Any organization can have challenges. It's not a reflection on the members."

The important thing to understand, Chincio said, is that the IBEW has processes in place to correct such situations. "It's a testament to the resilience and strength of the membership that we faced those challenges and kept moving forward," he said.

"Leroy's a great guy and a great leader — a person of integrity," said Ninth District International Representative Harold J. Dias Jr. "He's been a big part of leading the local during these turbulent times and getting back the members' trust in the IBEW."

Under Chincio's leadership, Dias said, Local 1260 quickly repaid its monetary obligations and is now back on solid financial footing. "It's a success story, but Leroy has kept his humility through it all," Dias said.

Chincio holds a bachelor's degree in e-business from the University of Phoenix and a master's certificate in contract management from Villanova University.

Being a business manager of a local with almost 3,000 members spread across five Hawaiian islands as well as Guam and Wake Island, he said, as well as a widower and father to three teenage daughters, leaves him with very little free time — except maybe when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has been a diehard fan of the team since 1980, he said, following its 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV. "My dad made a bet: 'If the Steelers win by at least 10 points, I'll get you those skates that you want.' They did, and he did."

The IEC's Seventh District covers Hawaii as well as Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and the Pacific U.S. territories. As the newest member of the council, Chincio said that his No. 1 priority is "representing the members, making sure I can keep the philosophy of the IBEW intact," he said. "It's great to have a seat at the table."

Please join the entire IBEW membership in wishing Brother Chincio "pōmaika'i iā 'oe" — good luck — as he takes on his new leadership role.


Leroy J. Chincio Jr.

Phil Venoit

Victoria, British Columbia, Local 230 Business Manager Phil Venoit, who has served in his current position with the local since 2002, has been appointed to the International Executive Council by International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.

The Victoria native replaces former Fredericton, New Brunswick, Local 37 Business Manager Ross Galbraith, who accepted a position with the First District office.

"Brother Venoit is an ideal choice to represent Canada on the IEC," First District International Vice President Thomas Reid said. "Under his leadership, Local 230 remains a well-respected advocate for working families all across Vancouver Island. His tireless work ethic rubs off on those around him.

"Phil is well respected by everyone in our industry, not just in British Columbia but across our district. He has worked tirelessly representing Local 230 and the entire IBEW in Canada. He'll bring a vast depth of knowledge and wisdom to his additional duties. I have worked with Phil for many years and look forward to working with him in his new role for many more to come."

Brother Venoit's father, Lew, also was an inside wiremen and Local 230 member, but his son didn't give much thought about following him into the trades until after high school. That moment came when his father, who was working an out-of-town job during the pre-internet days, called his son and asked him to drop by Local 230's hall to pay his dues.

While there, then-18-year-old Phil struck up a conversation with the dispatcher on duty, who told him he could secure him a spot in Local 230's apprenticeship program. Venoit was working as a manager at a Victoria-area McDonald's at the time and unsure of his future. So, he spoke to his father after he returned to town before saying "yes."

It didn't take long to realize he made the right decision. Venoit was initiated into Local 230 in January 1981, topped out four years later and found that "everything about it felt like I was on a vacation when I was on the job," he said.

"I always loved the union," he added. "Always. From Day One. I loved everything it did for me and everything that it embodied and brought to me on a personal level."

Venoit was active in the local and was hired on staff as an organizer in 1996. He became an assistant business manager in 1999. Three years later, he was elected business manager and has been re-elected six times since.

Local 230 President Greg Gyorfi, who has known Venoit for 15 years, said he's earned members' trust through his work ethic and proven results in improving wages and working conditions. He's also formed working relationships at the highest levels of municipal and provincial governments, reaching all the way up to B.C. Premier John Horgan.

"He's one off the best things we have as far as unionism on Vancouver Island," Gyorfi said. "He's on so many boards and he has his finger on the pulse of everything. I think Phil's taken one vacation since I've known him. His idea of a vacation is attending [an international] convention."

Venoit has made it a priority to be visible throughout Local 230's jurisdiction, which covers all of the island, the only part of western Canada that stretches south of the 49th parallel. He's especially proud that he's built relationships not just within the labour movement and its allies but even with individuals some might have viewed as enemies.

"I had the owner of one of the largest nonunion electrical contractors in Vancouver [city] tell me once, 'We won't even consider bidding work [on the island]," he said. "You guys have that place locked down."

His roots are in construction and shipyards but Venoit has had to show expertise in a variety of areas. Local 230 represents workers in manufacturing, communications, government, marine and railroad.

"I don't think there have been many times in my life when I've felt humbled and excited at the same time. When you put those two feelings together, it becomes a surreal moment," he said of his IEC appointment.

"I've always loved working on large and complex challenges. I think that is one of the real assets I can bring to help with the work on the council."

Venoit and his wife, Brenda, have three children, including a daughter, Cassidy, a Local 230 pre-apprentice. He works with a variety of charities, including the United Way, and was a charter member of the Electrical Workers Without Borders — North America. He is a past president of the B.C. Building Trades, Metal Trades, and Island Railway Council and has served on the boards of several other government, labour and trades councils.

"His commitment never stops," Gyorfi said.

The officers and staff congratulate Brother Venoit on his appointment and wish him much success in his new role.


Phil Venoit

Michael Blanchard

Michael Blanchard, a retired Seventh District international representative whose passion for organizing helped spur the growth of Gulf Coast inside locals, died April 7. He was 72.

"He really was ahead of his time," said his friend of 50 years, Dan Hetzel, explaining how Blanchard embraced the IBEW's hotly debated directive in the 1980s to organize nonunion wiremen. "Mike was elated. He knew it was going to pay dividends."

A native Texan, Blanchard signed on with Beaumont Local 479 three days after graduating high school, following his father into the IBEW. He trained as an apprentice wireman while also earning an associate degree in vocational electricity.

He topped out as a journeyman in an era of scarce electrical jobs in the Beaumont area, and often hit the road. He made an adventure of it, finding work at more than 35 locals nationwide.

"Being a part of the IBEW gave me the chance to see what it was like to work alongside brothers around the country," Blanchard said when he retired in 2009. "It was a great experience."

He and Hetzel traveled together at times, building bonds that grew into parallel careers. On his own, Blanchard made multiple treks to New York City and was intrigued by Local 3's inside organizing efforts years before there was a national game plan.

"He learned a lot there about organizing," said Hetzel, who retired as an international representative in 2012. "He was excited about it."

Blanchard was an active member of Local 479 from the start, serving on numerous committees and the executive board before running against the sitting business manager in 1986. It was a joint decision for him and Hetzel, who agreed upfront to serve as assistant business manager; he later took the helm when Blanchard joined the international staff.

They were determined to ease tensions at their local, where members had been at odds with each other and leadership for some time. Tempers flared over deals to cut wages to compete with nonunion electricians being hired by industrial-sector contractors.

Orville Tate, who served 22 years as Seventh District vice president, attended a heated membership meeting and took notice when Blanchard stood and spoke from the audience.

Making a case for the embattled business manager's position, he argued that without concessions in the short term, they wouldn't have jobs at all.

"He was very vocal and articulate," Tate said. "I was impressed with his presentation."

Though pragmatic, Blanchard also believed there had to be a better way. He and Hetzel campaigned on that promise, winning handily in 1986 and subsequent elections.

One of the answers was growth. Blanchard jumped in with both feet when the IBEW instructed inside locals to begin organizing from nonunion ranks instead of exclusively bringing in members through the apprenticeship program.

"It's probably the greatest thing that Mike did," Hetzel said. "We began to organize and took key people from nonunion sectors."

Blanchard was a quick study. He perfected IBEW strategies and techniques to salt nonunion worksites with his members, sending them in undercover to spot cream-of-the-crop electricians. He also was one of the district's first construction-side business managers to hire an organizer.

Tate recognized a rising star and was eager to bring Blanchard aboard the Seventh District staff when he had an opening in 1993.

He assigned Blanchard to oversee organizing in the district and watched him excel at training and motivating local staff and members.

"Mike was very good at making it simple to understand why we have to organize, how we can organize and what the results of organizing can be," Tate said.

Inside of two years, Blanchard helped draw hundreds of new members into the IBEW and continued to build on those victories. He favored quieter strategies instead of pickets, such as producing a newsletter on Gulf Coast campaigns that sometimes crossed into the neighboring Fifth District. He and his team distributed more than 10,000 copies each week at nonunion worksites from Mobile, Ala., to Corpus Christi, Texas.

Blanchard's verbal dexterity, attention to detail and ability to absorb knowledge and impart what he'd learned, made for a powerful skill set, as his friends described.

"He wasn't a labor lawyer, but he'd just about memorize everything they said," Hetzel recalled. At meetings where others barely touched a pen, "Mike was always taking notes," Tate said.

He worked hard, but also was a lot of fun, Hetzel said. With a lake 30 feet from his back door in Village Mills, Texas, Blanchard enjoyed fishing and other outdoor activities in his retirement, as well as road trips in his pristine Corvette.

"He kept it in his garage, and if it wasn't spotless, he'd back it out and wash it again," Hetzel said with a chuckle.

Blanchard is survived by his wife, Kaye, son, Jason, a brother, sister and nieces and nephews.

The officers and staff sends sincere condolences to Brother Blanchard's family and friends, with gratitude for his dedicated service and lasting achievements.


Michael Blanchard

Scott D. Hudson

Scott D. Hudson, a business development international representative with the Eighth District, has retired from the IBEW, effective April 1.

After graduating from Billings High School in 1972, the Montana native started taking classes at what is now Montana State University Billings. He also supported himself by taking on a succession of union-represented jobs: as a dock worker at BNSF, he belonged to Railroad Workers United. He was a Teamster at the Great Western Sugar Company. And through multiple hospitality jobs, he was represented by the union now called UNITE HERE.

In 1975, while he was working as a laborer represented by LIUNA, he applied to the IBEW inside apprenticeship. He was initiated as a member of Billings, Mont., Local 532, which has jurisdiction in 24 counties in eastern and south-central Montana.

Hudson topped out as a journeyman inside wireman in 1979, and while he was working with the tools, his enthusiasm for union activism grew. He got active in enhancing Local 532's training program, and he served on the local's negotiating committee from 1990 to 1993 until then-Business Manager Don Herzog appointed him assistant business manager.

Two years later, Herzog assigned Hudson to help bring more members into the IBEW as Local 532's organizer. One of Hudson's more notable accomplishments in this role was helping to bring into the IBEW locomotive refurbishing workers at Montana's Livingston Rebuild Center, then the city's largest employer. With help from now-retired Eighth District International Representative Rocky Clark and Rex Kendall, Butte, Mont., Local 44's then-business manager, nearly 100 workers there overwhelmingly voted for IBEW representation in 1999.

In 2002, Hudson served another two-year stint as Local 532's assistant business manager before his election as business manager in 2003. He also served as delegate to the Montana Conference of Electrical Workers, on Montana's Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, as president of the Southeastern Montana Building Trades Council, on the board of directors of Union Labor Federal Credit Union and as a delegate to the Yellowstone Valley Labor Council.

"I'm very honored to have been trusted to work on behalf of all workers," Hudson said of his busy career.

In 2007, then-International President Edwin D. Hill appointed Hudson to serve under then-Eighth District International Vice President Ted Jensen, with responsibility for servicing Utah's locals. Three years later, Hill brought Hudson to Washington to serve as director of construction organizing in the union's Membership Development Department.

"Organizing has always been the IBEW's No. 1 priority for effective growth and increased market share," Hudson said. Under his leadership, the Membership Development Department boosted construction organizing efforts, promoting public events designed to attract nonunion electricians and engaging in worksite blitzes.

One of Hudson's proudest accomplishments while working at the International Office was helping to launch in 2011 the union's Organizing Accountability Reporting System (OARS), which tracks contractors and their electricians across North America to aid the union's organizing.

"OARS was a true joint effort," Hudson said, acknowledging the ongoing direction and support of both Hill and current International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, the work of the Information Technology Department and input from district, state and local organizers. "That program was developed because of all the people involved."

In 2015, Hill assigned Hudson back to his home district to work with International Vice President Jerry Bellah as a business development representative for the five states under the Eighth District's jurisdiction: Montana and Utah, as well as Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.

Business Development Director Ray Kasmark said Hudson has been effective in assisting and supporting local unions across the Eighth District, using these tools and acquiring additional work for IBEW members and our partner electrical contractors.

"Our mission is to create opportunities for growth, but there's really no playbook for that. Scott was always good at coming up with solid ideas," Kasmark said. "Scott's been one of our top innovators. He really looks at the big picture. That kind of thing is priceless."

Hudson and his wife, Lori, plan to spend retirement in rural Sheridan, Wyo. "You can't get any more socially distanced than this," he quipped. His hobbies have include outdoorsy pursuits such as golfing, fishing, boating, hunting and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. "I'll still be focusing on keeping the golf ball in the fairway," he said.

Hudson also plans to spend more time with his sons, Corby and Jeff, and his daughter, Cortney, and their families. He noted with pride that Jeff is also a journeyman inside wireman with Billings Local 532.

Please join us in thanking Brother Hudson for his tireless IBEW service. We wish him a long and happy retirement.


Scott D. Hudson

Brian Matheson

Brian Matheson, a First District international representative who served the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada for half of his 50 years with the IBEW, retired April 1.

Raised in a family of coal miners on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, "We grew up union," he said. "It was almost all union people there."

Instead of the mines, Matheson went to work at a local utility as a meter reader and ground hand. When the utility was sold to a larger company that became Nova Scotia Power, he was part of a labor pool competing for shifts. But he impressed his boss, and one day in 1969 "the stars aligned."

"They were firing a meter reader who was estimating, not actually reading meters," Matheson said. "I got his job."

After a year, he was able to join the IBEW and began training as an apprentice lineman. From early on, he served as a recorder and shop steward in Local 1089, which merged a few years later with Halifax Local 1928.

Four years after graduating as a journeyman, Matheson was hired as assistant business manager. He enjoyed making the rounds of Nova Scotia, attending unit meetings and helping locals with negotiations and training. But he went back to the tools when the business manager who hired him was defeated for re-election.

The next time around, Matheson threw his own hat in the ring. He won, serving 13 years as business manager until joining the international staff in 1995.

One of his most satisfying achievements while running Local 1928 embodied the true spirit of brotherhood. A member's young daughter needed a liver transplant, and Matheson set out to raise $20,000 for surgery that needed to be done in the United States.

During the girl's extended wait on a transplant list, money poured in from IBEW members in Nova Scotia and across Canada, eventually tallying $250,000. They donated $150,000 of it to two hospitals and put the rest in a trust for the patient's future care, he said.

Matheson also brought Local 1928 into the emerging digital age of the 1980s. "We had 10 different unions in our building, and we were the first to get a computer," he said. "My office manager was going to quit."

But she accepted his offer to send her to classes and afterwards "she ended up training all the other unions," he said with a note of pride.

From 1995 on, Matheson served 13 locals along Canada's Atlantic shores, mainly representing members at utilities, factories and pulp plants. One highlight of his many years on the road was helping members at Irving Pulp & Paper in New Brunswick negotiate a decade-long contract.

"Because they had the 10-year agreement, they kept getting increases while other plants were downsizing and cutting back on wages," he said, stressing the teamwork involved, and his goal to advise, not direct, at any bargaining table.

Ross Galbraith, who until recently was a member of the International Executive Council and business manager of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Local 37, will be replacing Matheson as the territory's international representative. Matheson was an invaluable mentor, he said.

"When I was dealing with a complicated or controversial subject or was just frustrated about something, Brian was such a calming influence," Galbraith said. "He has such an affable, cheerful, sunny point of view. It was always, 'We'll get through this.'"

He said Matheson knows "it can be lonely at the top" for business managers, and sometimes they just need an ear.

"He's guy who's been around the block, who doesn't panic, who listens to you and gives you time to vent. He's a good coach. That's exactly what he was like — the kind who can settle people down and get his team playing well again."

On some matters, Matheson was more sparing with his words.

"He was very famous for answering a question with a question," said Local 1928 Business Manager Jim Sponagle, a practice that Matheson confirmed.

"I'd say, 'What does the Constitution say? What do the bylaws say?' I'd tell them to look it up and come back to me."

Even if it wasn't what they hoped to hear, Sponagle said, "I think he was old school, like that saying, 'Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.'"

Matheson is relishing his newfound leisure at home on Lake Sherbrooke in southern Nova Scotia, fishing, boating and enjoying quality time with a blended family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He's also looking forward to spending winters in Florida.

But he loved his career, too. "It was a great experience every day," he said. "You can't knock working for workers."

The IBEW thanks Brother Matheson for a half-century of service and wishes him a long and happy retirement.


Brian Matheson