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The Electrical Worker January 2011

The Electrical Worker January 2011

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Published by Kathryn R. Thompson
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W W
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rom citycouncilsto theU.S.Senate, newlyelected officialsacrossthe countrytake officethismonth in the midstoftheworsteconomiccrisissince theGreatDepression.And while cor-porateAmerica hasrestored itsprofitmarginsto pre-recessionlevels, workingAmericanscon-tinue tofeel the pinch, battered byjob losses, declining wagesandrising health care costs.Unemploymentstillhoversnear10percent,withmorethan15millionpeopleoutofwork.Andthoseareonlytheofficialnumbers.Thenumberofworkerswhohavebeenunemployedforsixmonthsormorekeepsrising,hitting6.3mil-lioninDecember—anewrecord.ForIBEWmembersinthecon-structionbranch,thenumbersareevenworse,runningcloserto20percentnation-wideandmorethandoublethatinsomepartic-ularyhard-hitregions.America’sNo. 1 priorityin the midtermelectionswasmade clearin poll afterpoll:jobs, jobs, jobs.Thatmeanseveryelected official hasamandate to cutthrough the partisanship tofocuson jumpstarting the economyand get-tingAmerica backto work.There isa heated debate going on—fromkitchen tablestostate housesup toCapitolHill—aboutwhatourcountry’sprioritiesmustbe.Some lawmakerssaythathigh levelsof unemploymentare here tostay.Theysayweneed tofocuson cutting programslikeSocialSecurityand Medicaid and hope thatmore taxcutsforthe wealthiestAmericanswill do thetrick.Some wantto take awayourrightto adecentwage andfreedom to join a union, driv-ing down workingstan-dards evenfurther.Some want to killmajor projects—likehigh speed rail—thatwould create thousandsof new jobs—all in thename of austerity.ButforIBEW mem-bers and theirfamilies,more belt-tightening isn’tan option.The roadtofinancial prosperityisnew jobs, notlongerunemploymentlines.Acrossthe countrythereare literallythousandsofprojects—from newpowerplantsand energyefficientbuildinretrofitsto newschoolsand manufacturing facilities—thatare readyto be built.Whatismissing isthe political will tomake them a reality. Regardlessofhowyouvoted, itisup to everymemberofthe IBEW tolettheirlawmakersknow—through one-on-one meetings, phone calls, lettersand ral-lies—that we wantthem tofightforjobs.In the comingyear, we will befeaturing storiesfrom IBEW activistswho are mobilizinmemberson the ground to pushforgood jobsand policiesthathelp working people—layinthefoundationforafairerand more prosper-ous economyand astrongerunion.
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IN THIS ISSUE
FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1893
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N T E R N AT I O N A L
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R OT H E R H O O D O F
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O R K E R S
Vol. 5|No. 1|January 2011
FightingforOurFuture:PuttingJobsFirst
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Nov. resultsspawnelectoraldivide
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WorkershopetoavoidthesqueezeHowtogetinvolve
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Fla.schooltrainsfuturemembers
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North of49° 
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Circuits
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TransitionsIBEW onDuty 
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LocalLines
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InMemoriam
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Editorials
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LetterstotheEditor WhoWeAre
Go
“Green!”
withour
e
-
 Edition
Get your Electrical Worker delivered eachmonth via e-mail. It’s convenient & helpscut down on paper waste.Go to
www.ibew.org
and sign up today!
 Please recycle this newspaper.
 
ItisuptoeveryIBEWmembertolettheirlawmakers—fromCityCounciltoCapitolHill—knowthattheir  prioritymustbejobs.
 
2
The Electrical Worker
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January 2011
he midterm electionsare over. Ournation’sdemo-cratic processhasresulted in divided government.OnCapitolHill,bigmoneycampaigncontribu-torstocandidatesfrombothpoliticalpartieshavewastednotimeknockingondoorsaskingforsupportfromnewlegislators.Everyone hasastake in the outcome ofan election, butnone more than workingfamilies.The questionforall ofus—no matterhow wevoted—iswhatwill be done overthe nexttwoyearsto putournation backon the road to good,family-sustaining jobsand economicrecovery?We don’tclaim to have all ofthe answers. Butthe IBEW,ourmembersin everybranch and the NorthAmerican labormovementhave generationsofexperience in whatworksforusand whatdoesn’t.In thisissue ofthe Electrical Worker, we discusstheimmediate tasksfacing usand ourelected leaders—building good jobs, defending ourgainsand promoting economicpatriotism here athome byinsisting uponfairnessforwork-ers, retireesand those who arestill jobless.Ourgovernmentmaybedivided,butontheimportantissuesoftheday,wecannotaffordtobe.Letothersspeculateandbicker.Wehaveworktodo.
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he “wave election” lastNovemberthatprecipitated theRepublican takeoverofthe House ofRepresentativesalso resulted in aGOPtakeoverofboth legislativechambersand governorshipsin 20states, while theDemocratscontrol all three in 10states.Somenewly-electedleaders—mostlyRepublicans—pushedanti-workerproposalsduringtheircampaigns—likeendingprevailingwageprotectionsorinitiatingunion-busting right-to-worklaws. Whilethenewpoliticalalignmentcouldresultintheenactmentofthesemeasures,InternationalRepresentativeDanGardner,IBEWPoliticalandLegislativeAffairsDepartment,cautionslocalunionsagainstwritingoff opportunitiesforprogressatthestatelevelor“spendingallof ourtimeplayingdefense”—nomatterwhichpartyisincontrol.Asan example,saysGardner, Republicanswho cam-paigned pledging to reducestate andfederal deficitsshouldbe urged tosupportlegislation penalizing businessesthatmisclassifyworkersasindependentcontractors.Misclassification hashurtIBEW membersin the telecommuni-cations, broadcasting and constructionsectorsbycreating anuneven playingfieldforwagesand benefitsand preventing workersfrom organizing (See “Cheating WorkersOutofRights,Benefits,”The Electrical Worker, June 2010).Requiring unscrupulousbusinessestostartpayingSocialSecurity, Medicare and unemploymentinsurance taxesthattheyare now evading could bring up to $8 billion oflostrev-enue intostate budgetsoverthe nextdecade and enableworkerswho are currentlycheated outofrightsto organize.Gardner,whoformerlyservedasOregon’slaborsecretary,saysthatstateshavealwaysbeentheprovinggroundsforfederallegislation.When40percentofthestatespasssimilarlegislation,thefederalgovernmentstartspayingattention,saysGardner.Keepingtheballrollingonjob-creatingprojectsisimportant.Some newly-elected governorshave alreadyrejectedfed-eralstimulusfundsforprojects, including planned high-speedrail linesin Ohio and Wisconsin.Gardnersaid membersshouldcontinue to contactlegislatorsin both political partiesforsup-port. Iftheyareseriousaboutreducing deficits,saysGardner,theyshouldsupportputting more moneyintoschool construc-tion and transportation projectsto putunemployed workers,including IBEW members, backto work, allowing them to con-tribute to ournation’seconomicrecovery.
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012345%01020304050%2010200019901980197019601950
Long-Term Unemployment
Share of labor forceunemployed for 27 weeks or moreShare of unemployed populationunemployed for 27 weeks or more
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics andNational Bureau of Economic ResearchCenter on Budget and Policy Priorities | cbpp.org 
as share of total unemployedas share of labor force
ElectoralDivideaChallengetoWorkingFamilies
WAORCAUT IDCONMAZTXSDNDMT WY NVHINEKSOKMNIAMOARWIMIILINOHKY TNALLAAKMSGAFLWVVANCSCPANY NJMDCT NHMEMARIVT DEDC
State Control by Party 
Republicans control state legislature and governorshipsDemocrats control bothNebraska’s unicameral legislature is nonpartisanDivided government
NowWhat
HowWill‘Wave’ElectionAffectWorkers?
Republicanscontrol20statehousesandgovernors’mansions.
 
S
owhatelsecanlocalunionsandactivemembersdotogetRepublicansandDemocratsworkingtogetheronjobs?“Alllocalunionsandactivemembersneedtowadeintotheongo-ingpublicdebateoverhowournationcanrecoverfromthecurrentrecessionthatishurtingsomanyfamilies,includingmanyIBEWmembers,”saysInternationalPresidentEdwinD.Hill.Reducing unemploymentandournational debtare notopposing goals,saysHill. On the contrary, arecentreport, “Investing inAmerica’sEconomy,” published bythe EconomicPolicyInstitute, dis-cusses howAmerica’spowerfulpostwareconomythat“enabledmostworkerstoshare in productiv-ity gains” owed much to “invest-ments in infrastructure, technology,publiceducation, and housing—aswell asmonetarypolicythatfacili-tated low unemployment.”Whetherbycallingcongres-sionalrepresentatives,orsending letterstotheeditorsoftownnewspa-pers,localunionsandactivemem-bers,saysHill,shouldunderscoretheresearch,citedbyEPI,showing:Each dollarspentin replacing orrepairing bridgesand drinking watersystemscreates$1.57 inadditional economicbenefits.Each jobsupported in the con-struction industrysupportstwoadditional jobs.
T
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nCalifornia, the IBEW ispushing lawmakersto getbehind newly-electedGov. JerryBrown’splan to have the bulkofrenewable energyused byresidentsand businessesto comefrom inside thestate.California’sutilitiesaremandatedtoprocure20percentoftheirenergysupplyfromrenewableresourcesby2020.TheIBEWisbackingBrown’spushtodevelop20,000megawattsofnew,renewableenergyinsidetheGoldenState,whichwouldputthousandsofmemberstoworkinstallinsolarpanelsandbuildingwindfarmsandnewrenewablepowerplants.“We are talking tensofthousandsofnew jobsacrossthestate ifthisgoesthrough,”saysScottWetch, the IBEW’schieflobbyistinSacramento.In Illinois, IBEW localshave waged a one-yearcampaign to winstatesupportfora privately-owned $3.5 billion coal gasification project, theTaylorville EnergyCenter.Tenaska would be builtinCentral Illinoisata costof$3.5 billion, creat-ing an estimated 2,500 construction jobsand hundredsofmining and engi-neering jobsin postconstruction.The campaign hasbeen led byMichaelCarrigan, thestate’sAFL-CIOpresident, an IBEW member, andstronglysupported bySixth DistrictInternationalVice PresidentLonnieStephenson.
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MobilizingforJobsinCalif.,Ill.
The Electrical Worker
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January 2011
3
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hetherit’sin politicsorcollective bargaining,you’re eitheratthe tableoryou’re on the menu. Nov. 2 ishis-tory—but peoplestill need to getoutthere and raise theirvoices. Here’ssome practical advicefrom BrianBakerand Juanita Luizofthe IBEWPolitical/Legislative DepartmentinWashington, D.C.
 AttendPublicMeetings
Local meetingsofgroupslikeyourcitycouncil are open to the public,and these are prime opportunitiesto getoutthe message ofgood jobs.“These legislatorsin thestateand citycouncil, they’re thesame asus,”said Baker, departmentdirec-tor. “Rank-and-file membersneed togo to these meetings.Thisisa greatopportunityto expose lawmakerstocritical laborissues.”How?Sayyourcityisgoingtoputupanewbuilding,andcityhallwantspublicinput.Gotomeetingsandaskthecouncil,“Areyouwillingtouseresponsiblebuilderlanguage?Useaprojectlaboragreement?Hirelocallabor?”Talkwithyourbusinessman-agertohelpcraftyourmessage.AndwearyourIBEWshirttothemeeting.
GetFaceTimewithYour ElectedLeaders
When representativesandsenatorsaren’tonCapitol Hill, they’re backintheirlocal offices.Thisisthetimetotalkwithrepre-sentativesone-on-oneabouttheissues.Ifyou’reinconstruction,wherewe’refacinghighunemployment,theyneedtohearthatthereasonyou’renotworkingisbecauseoftheeconomy.“You’rewhotheyrepresent,andtheyneedtobereminded.Tellthemthatyoucomefromthiscommunity,thatyouvotehere,thatyouhaveafamilyandacareerhere,andtheywilltakeyouseriously,Luizsays.“Askyourlawmakersabouttheirstanceonunemploymentbenefitsandremindthemthatyouwanttobeworking.
BecomeYourOwnRepresentative
There are plentyofopportunitiesforeverydaypeople to become changeagentsin theircommunities,whetherit’sbeing active in local citycouncils,school boards, businessclubsorcharityorganizations.“WehaveseveralhundredIBEWmembersnationwideservinginlocalpublicoffices,”Luizsaid.“Andany-thingyoucandotoincreaseyourownpower—whetherit’sgettingaspotonthecitycouncilorrunningforofficeofalocalcharity—ishelpful.”
ChangeBeginsatHome
“Membersshould alwaysrememberthatthe union isnotthe businessmanagerorthe InternationalOffice,” Bakersaid. “The union isthe people who make itwork.”Still, it’salwaysgood to com-municate withyourbusinessman-ager abouthow toflesh outyourmessage and how to getsupportfromfellow members.“Ifyou don’tfeel confidentorprepared enough to go to citycoun-cil meetings, that’sOK,” Luizsaid.There are lotsofthingsto do atthelocal, likevolunteering to help theregistraror—ifyourlocal uniondoesn’thave a registrar—becoming oneyourself.
Doyou haveideasabouthowto getactiveinyourcommunity?Wewant tohearfromyou!E-mailyourthoughtsto IbewPoliticalDept@ibew.org.
T
GettingInvolvedLocally,101
Workersstillneedtomaketheir voicesheard.
HowNOTtoCuttheDeficit
Everyone is concerned about spending—but the wrong belt-tightening will squeeze working families harder.
CUTTINGUNEMPLOYMENTBENEFITS
isnottheanswer.
JoblessAmericansputthismoneydirectlybackinto the economybypaying bills, buyingfood andsupporting businesses.Every$1 paid outincreasesthe grossdomesticproductby$1.60, a reportbythe U.S.CongressJointEconomicCommitteesaid.Unemploymentbenefitsfunneled $225 million into oureconomyeverydayin 2010, according to astudybytheCalifornia BudgetProject.
SLASHINGSOCIALSECURITY 
willonlyhurtthe51millionseniors,disabledcitizensandchildrenreceivingbenefits.
Much like unemploymentinsurance,nearlyall ofSocialSecuritydollarsare channeled backinto localeconomies.Whilesome lawmakerstalkaboutthesystemsoon going broke,SocialSecurityisfullysolventuntil 2037,even attoday’sretirementage andfunding levels, according to a jointreportbyDemos, the EconomicPolicyInstitute and theCenturyFoundation.Among those 65 and older,SocialSecurityisthe majorsource oincomefor57 percentoffamilies, and amountsto only$14,000 peryearonaverage—barelyabove the povertylinefora household oftwo.
CARVINGUPMEDICARE
won’tsavemoney.
Reducing the amountthe governmentputsinto Medicare willshiftcoststoelderlyrecipients.The EPIstatesthatthe averageseniorisalreadyspending 30 percentof theirSocialSecuritybenefitson Medicare out-of-pocketcosts.Cuttingfund-ing would drive thatamounthigher.
RAISINGTHERETIREMENTAGE
willjeopardizeworkerhealthandsafety.
Ifthe eligibilityforSocialSecuritybenefitsisraised to 70, manyworkerswillexperience an undue physical and emotional burden.Itwould also blockthe pipelineforyoungerworkerswho desperatelyneedto enterthe job market.
EXTENDINGTAXCUTSTOTHEWEALTHY 
wouldincreasethedebt,notfixit.
The top 2 percentofAmericansdo notrecirculate theirtaxsavingsbackintothe economy, asmiddle-classfamiliesdo.The EconomicPolicyInstitute reportsthatthe Bush-era cutsto the wealthycostthe treasurymore than $2 trillion overa decade.
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 Jobs:AGoodInvestment

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