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July 2024

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Thank a Lineman

How many times a day do we flip a switch, plug in our phones or turn the thermostat up or down? Even as proud members of the IBEW, we're power consumers like everyone else and every bit as capable of taking our effortless access for granted.

Lineman Appreciation Day on July 10 reminds us to stop and think about the IBEW brothers and sisters who make our lights, connections and comfort possible. And to thank them, profoundly.

In brutal heat and arctic cold, they forge ahead, doing one of North America's most dangerous jobs. They often go days or weeks or longer without seeing their families after a major storm, let alone getting a good night's sleep.

Sacrifice and risk have been part of our linemen's DNA for more than 130 years. In fact, their work was so deadly early on that as many as half of them lost their lives, including the IBEW's founding president, Henry Miller.

It happened July 10, 1896, after a storm in Washington, D.C. The Electrical Worker reported that Brother Miller, working for the Potomac Electric Light and Power Co., "came into contact with a high-tension wire carrying 2,200 volts and received a shock knocking him off the pole."

We've made enormous strides in safety since then, leading the fight for state and federal laws and advanced equipment and techniques. Our world-class training and the strong bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood are also huge factors: Our members look out for each other. And injury to one is an injury to all.

Still, the perils are very real and, as I told you last month, in some places they're getting worse, not better.

Two of the hottest states, Texas and Florida, now have Republican-imposed laws banning local governments from requiring employers to provide outdoor workers with water and cooling breaks. While our members are protected by their contracts, not all workers are so lucky.

One of our El Paso, Texas, members talks about the record-breaking heat in the Lineman Appreciation Day article, where you'll read stories from several linemen around the country.

To say they love their jobs is an understatement. It's a privilege for me to know so many of them, to hear about their challenges and triumphs, and see the joy on their faces as they tell one wild story after another.

They are simply the best-skilled, most dedicated lineworkers anywhere.

We are working with our friends in Congress to make Lineman Appreciation Day a national day of recognition. But no matter what happens politically, July 10 will always be our day to honor lineworkers.

So give them a wave or a shoutout. We've also got lots of social media posts you can share. Anything to show your appreciation — on July 10 or any other day of the year.


Also: Cooper: Nuclear's Comeback Read Cooper's Column

Paul A. Noble

Paul A. Noble
International Secretary-Treasurer