November 1998 IBEW Journal
The First District held three progress meetings. At each of these meetings, reports were given by First District Vice President International Donald Lounds about the progress of the second Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) organizing campaign taking place in Maryland. Delegates were shown the union-busting tape used by management during the previous BGE organizing campaign, which earned the company one of several unfair labor practice charges.
Vice President Lounds also spoke about continuing deregulation and privatization in the utility industry, as well as the probability of utility members performing work outside of traditional property lines. He stressed that members must move to ensure these changes do not create internal conflict with the construction branch.
Jim Lea, of Maritime Electric, spoke about natural gas in Atlantic Canada and the building of a $3 billion project including the construction of a gas pipeline from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and into the United States.
President Bob White of the Canadian Labour Congress spoke at the Central Progress Meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 14 and 15. He said the Congress was pleased with the reaffiliation of the IBEW, emphasizing that Canadian workers must speak with one voice. Brother White urged IBEW local unions to affiliate with their local labour councils. The battles the Congress is fighting include proposed changes to employment insurance, reduction in health care provisions, establishing national apprenticeship and training standards and opposing "right-to-work" legislation. The Congress is also acting on trade agreements and other international issues such as child labour.
At the Western Progress meeting, held on June 18 and 19 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Honorable Pat Martin, Federal Labour Critic for the New Democratic Party (NDP), emphasized the need for union members to oppose efforts to impose restrictions on unions contributing funds to support labour-endorsed candidates and anti-labor issues like right-to-work laws, removal of fair wage legislation and Proposition 226 in California. He noted that ten of the 21 NDP members of Parliament are from the labour movement. Brother Martin is a Journeyman Carpenter representing Winnipeg Centre in Parliament.
At the Eastern Progress Meeting on July 9 and 10, in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Elaine Price, president of the Newfoundland Federation of Labour, spoke of the challenges for working people in Atlantic Canada. Unions are under attack, even though Newfoundland has the highest percentage of unionized workers. Health care and education are also targets of unscrupulous politicians. She stated that workers need to join together to fight these initiatives.
International Vice President Lawrence Rossa, International President Barry and International Secretary-Treasurer Hill spoke of the changes occurring in the electric industry. All stressed the importance of organizing new members as well as activism and vigilance on local, state and federal political fronts.
International Secretary-Treasurer Hill read an International Executive Council Resolution Honoring the thirty years of service of former International Treasurer Thomas Van Arsdale, and bestowed on him the title of International Treasurer Emeritus.
Executive Assistant to the International President, Charles "Bud" Fisher, discussed the current Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) organizing campaign and enlisted help from the delegates in writing personal letters to employees at BGE, telling them of the benefits of belonging to the IBEW.
The meeting started with the Third District Womens Caucus, the second longest running womens caucus in the IBEW. Royetta Sanford, Director of the Human Services Department at the International Office, conducted a workshop entitled, "Is sexual harassment a union issue?" Since sexual harassment is illegal according to the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991 and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), members were informed that discriminees have the right to sue for compensatory and punitive damages as well as medical expenses and given other pertinent information.
The Fourth District Progress Meeting was held in Ocean City, Maryland, on June 15, 16, and 17.
The meeting stressed planning the successful future of the IBEW and its members through skill development, organizing and strategic thinking.
As part of that theme, A. J. Pearson, Director of the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (NJATC) and Michael Barry, director of the Eastern Region, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) presented National Education and Training Awards for Excellence. International Vice President Paul Witte, International President Barry and International Secretary-Treasurer Hill presented the COPE Awards to thirty-two local unions, reflecting the IBEWs continuous drive toward legislative strategic thinking. Updated information was given concerning the drive to organize Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) and the importance of continuing IBEW organizing efforts.
Salt Lake City, Utah, was the site of the 1998 Eighth District
Progress Meeting, on June 11-13, 1998. A full-day facilitated workshop,
entitled "Union Obligation," examined the nature
of obligation and what it means to each IBEW member. A session,
chaired by Senior Assistant Business Manager John Davis, Local 111,
Denver, Colorado, updated delegates on the status of utility deregulation
in all states in the Eighth District. International Vice President
Jon Walters urged delegates to become involved in deregulation issues
and further stressed the importance of political action in each
International Secretary-Treasurer Edwin Hill addressed delegates and congratulated the Eighth District for increasing its membership by 4.2 percent, saying, "It was the only District in the IBEW to increase its membership for 1997." He spoke of the defeat of Proposition 226 in California, and stressed the importance of local union participation in IBEW-COPE. IEC member Querry discussed the National Outside Construction Agreement and its development in securing work for IBEW members in the Outside branch. A human rights panel on women entering male-dominated jobs and succeeding as non-traditional workers was led by Local 354, Salt Lake City, Assistant Business Manager Julie LeRoy and Senior Assistant Business Manager John Sena, Local 111. Other workshops were on Workplace Violence and Title VII/Civil Rights. Vice President Walters also announced their new web page--(www.ibew8th.com).
International Vice President Carl Lansden spoke of partnership with NECA Contractors in the arena of training, and educating people about the union, during the Tenth District Progress Meeting, held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on July 14-16, 1998.
International Secretary-Treasurer Edwin Hill addressed the delegates urging them to continue organizing to increase our numbers. Tennessee AFL-CIO President Jim Neeley spoke of the hard work put forth in an unsuccessful attempt to pass an Electrician Licensing Bill in the State of Tennessee.
Workshops were held on topics affecting the Manufacturing, Maintenance and Utility, Telephone, Construction and Railroad branches. Topics discussed were: work being moved off-shore; membership drives; organizing--its successes or difficulties; contract negotiations; jurisdiction; and training. NECA Regional Director Dave Roberts stated that NECA and the IBEW have the same objectives, especially in the need to increase apprentice starting rates to attract apprentices. Brother Carl Cantrell, financial secretary of Local 2113, Tullahoma, Tennessee, gave an excellent demonstration, in each of the workshops, of the Tenth District Web site he created on the Net. Members may click onto www.ibew10th.org.
The Tenth District Womens Caucus met prior to the Progress Meeting, to discuss issues--Recognition, Empowerment, Diversity-- that involve bargaining unit employees represented by the IBEW. Their focus was not to be left "outside the walls," but to be welcomed "inside the walls."