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The Electrical Worker April 2011

The Electrical Worker April 2011

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Published by Kathryn R. Thompson
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Published by: Kathryn R. Thompson on Jul 20, 2011
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n Wisconsin, tensofthousandsofwork-ing people and theirallieshave taken onan epicfightagainstGov.ScottWalker’seffortsto eliminate collective bargaining rightsforpublicworkers.Sadly, he isno rogue operator.Thisyearacrop ofnew hyper-partisan governorsandstate lawmakerstookoffice, often byrazor-thinmargins, capitalizing onvotermalaise and aweakeconomy.LastyearwasthefirstelectionthatwasinfluencedbytheCitizensUnitedSupremeCourtdecision,whichliftedcorporatelimitsoncam-paignspending.ThevehemenceoftheattacksonworkingAmericansroseindirectproportion.Corporate lobbyistsand anti-workerspe-cial interestgroupslike theChamberof Commerce and theAssociated BuildersandContractorsinvested a record amountof moneyto electpoliticianswho were commit-ted to doing theirbidding atthe expense of middle-classfamilies.InWisconsin,KochIndustrieswasoneof thelargestcontributorstoWalker’scampaign.TheKochsinterestincurtailingthepowerof laborunionsisnosecret.KochIndustriesisalsobehindoneofthelargestanti-workerlobbyistorganizations,AmericansforProsperity,andamajorsourceofincomeformostoftheotherprominentright-winggroupsandthinktanks.In Ohio and Florida, Koch alliesGovs.John Kasich and RickScottare also committedtoslashing bargaining rightsforpublicwork-ers, while lawmakersin 14statesare trying toram through right-to-worklegislation.AtatimewhentheAmericanpeoplewantlawmakerstomakejobstheirNo.1focus,somestateofficialsaregoingafterthehard-earnedrightsofworkingfamilies,usingtherecessionandstatebudgetarywoesasacoverfortheirpartisanagenda.Whilepoliticiansarespinningtheirattacksonpublicworkersasabudgetissue,chipping awayatworkers’rightsanddecentworkingstan-dardskeepsoureconomyonthewrongpath,addingtothenation’sfinancialproblems.There are alreadysignsthatmanyofthese anti-workerpoliti-cians have overreached. Walker’sapproval rat-ings have dropped to record lows, while astatewide recall effortagainstthosestatesen-ators whosupported hisanti-workerattacksisquicklygaining momentum.Asyou can read in thisissue oftheElectrical Worker, Walker, Kasich and otherlawmakershavesparked an unprecedentedmovementamong working people, bringing tensofthousandsofpeople into thestreetsandstate capitolsacrossthe country.Thefightisfarfrom over. Ralliescontinueto be held acrossthe countryto push backagainstthe attacks.Checkthe listofresourcesin thisissue tosee howyou can getinvolved.“EveryIBEWmemberneedstotelltheirlawmakersthatthetoplegislativepriorityhastobejobs,”saysInternationalPresidentEdwinD.Hill.“Thisisafightweallhaveastakein.”
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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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L EC T R I C A L
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O R K E R S
Vol. 5|No. 4|April 2011
THEWARONWORKERS
IBEW,WorkingFamiliesUniteAgainstWidespreadAnti-WorkerAttacks
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Wisconsin, Ohiofaceanti-worker legislation
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Workerspush backinFla., Ind.Congresspreparesforfederalcutbacks
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Maine, Mich. workersprotestattacksIBEW uncoverswagetheftinFla.
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North of49° 
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NEBFannualfunding notice
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IECminutes
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Organizing WireTransitionsIBEW OnDuty 
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SpotlightonSafetCircuits
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LocalLines
16
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InMemoriam
18
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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.
IBEWmemberswereamongthethousandswhoprotestedagainstanti-workerlegislationinWisconsin.
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The Electrical Worker
|
April 2011
 A 
fterweeksofunprecedentedshowsofsolidaritythatsentthousandstothestatecapi-tolofMadison,Wis.,Gov.ScottWalkerandstateSenateRepublicansrammedthroughabillstrippingpublicworkersoftheirrightsonMarch9,usingahigh-handedparliamentarymaneuverthatallowedthemtobypasstheirDemocraticcolleagues.Themove,whichforcedthegovernorandhisalliestostripthebudgetitemsfromthecollectivebar-gainingsection,exposedtheirtrueaim:tobreakpublicemployeeunionsinWisconsin.UnderWalker’sbill,thevastmajorityofpublicemployeeswouldberestrictedtobargainingonlyoverwageswhilecontractswouldbelim-itedtooneyear,forcingunionstoberecertifiedonayearlybasis.UniversityofWisconsinlaborhistorianStephenMeyertoldInTheseTimesthat“Walker’splanisworsethantheright-to-worklawsbecauseitrequiresthatunionsgetcertifiedbytheirmembersyearly,atthesametimethattheunionsarepreventedfromaccomplishingany-thingfortheirmembers.”Walkersaysthatbudgetwoeswerebehindthemove,sayingthatpublicworkersareovercompensatedcomparedtotheirprivatesectorcoun-terparts—anassertionthathasbeenchallengedbyleadingeconomists.ArecentstudybytheEconomicPolicyInstitutefoundthatWisconsin’spublicworkersearnnearly5percentlessintotalcompensationthanemployeesintheprivatesector.Walker’swinwasabigblowtoworkingfamilies,saysMadisonLocal159BusinessManagerMarkHoffmann,butthemovementthathisbillcreatedwillcontinuethefight.Pro-workeractiviststhrough-outthestatehavelaunchedarecallcampaignagainstGOPstatesena-torswhohavestoodwithWalker.MilwaukeeLocal2150memberMikeHaaksays,“Ilookedatthebillandthereisnothinginthereaboutsavingtaxpayers’money,butalotaboutforcingananti-workeragendaonthepeopleofWisconsin.The14membersofthestateSenateDemocraticcaucusleftWisconsininFebruarytodeprivethebodyofavotingquorumandblocktheanti-workerlegislationfromcomingtothefloor.IBEWmembersthroughoutthestateandbeyondtravelledtoMadison,includingMilwaukeeLocal494,whichrepresentselectriciansemployedbystateagencies.Local494BusinessManagerDanielLargesays,“Ourpublicsec-tormembers—likemanyotherstateemployees—tookapayfreezelastyear,sowehavebeenwillingasany-onetotightenourbelttohelpthegovernmentsavemoney.”Hoffmannsaidhundredsof thousandscametoMadison.“WorkingpeopleinWisconsinhavewokenupandaregoingtochangepoliticsasusualinthecapital.
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WisconsinGroundZeroforAttacksonWorkers
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hioGov.JohnKasichwasexpectedtoapproveaGOP-sponsoredbilllastmonththatstripspublicworkersoftheircol-lectivebargainingrights.Butlaborleadersaremobilizingtomakesureitneverseesthelightofday.Activistsarelookingtonullifythelegislationbymovingittoastatewidereferendum.Thatwilltakeafull-throttleeffortfromworkersalliestogathermorethan200,000signaturesin90days,whichwouldputthelawonholdandplacearepealreferendumonthestate’sNovemberballot.MariettaLocal972BusinessManagerSteveCrumsaidmembersarepassingoutfliersonjobsites,phonebankingandmobilizingsig-naturegatherers.“Wehavealotof resourcesandenergytodrawon,”hesaid.OhioSenateMinorityLeaderCapriCafarohighlightedthenegativeimpactthatthecollectivebargaininlawwouldhaveonworkingfamilies:“Wecan’tgrowOhio’seconomybydestroyingjobsandattackingthemiddleclass.”Cafarosaid.Thelawwouldconfineworkerstobargainingoverwagesonly.Itwouldeliminatecollectivebargainingforhealthcare,sicktimeandvacations.Crum,whoattendedseveralrallieslastmonth,saidthattheref-erendumpushiscriticaltoopposethelegislation.“Ifouropponentsaresuccessfulatbeatingbackcollectivebargaining forstateworkers,we’renext,”Crumsaid.“Right-to-workandanti-PLAlawswon’tbefarbehind.Sowehavetomakethisourfight.”DaveAppleman,FourthDistrictInternationalRepresentative,agrees.“Kasichandhiscrewareouttowipeoutunionstotally.Webetterbeinit—becausewe’llbenext.”FormerDemocraticGov.TedStrickland—wholostre-electionlastyeartoKasich—joinedtheMarchproteststolendsupporttounionwork-ers.“This[bill]haslittletodowithbal-ancingthisyear’sbudget,hetoldacrowdofdemonstratorsinColumbus.“It’sanattempttodiminishtherightsofworkingpeople.It’sanassaultonthemiddleclassofthisstateandit’sunfairandoutofbalance.”Kasich,whohasworkedasaFoxNewscontributor,spenthalfadecadeasaninvestmentbankerwiththeformerWallStreetfirmLehmanBrothers—thegroupwhose2008collapsehelpedtriggertherecessionthathashitworkingpeo-pleinOhiodisproportionatelyhard.A16,000-memberFacebookgrouphasup-to-the-minuteinfoonthereferendumpush.Visit
www.facebook.com
andsearchfor“StopSenateBill5inOhio.”
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OhioWorkersStandUptoAnti-WorkerLegislation
Teachers, firefighters,health careworkers and numerous public employees joined thousandsat a February  protest attheOhio statehouse.
WAORCAUT IDCONMAZTXSDNDMT WY NVHINEKSOKMNIAMOARWIMIILINOHKY TNALLAAKMSGAFLWVVANCSCPANY NJMDCT NHMEMARIVT DEDC
Proposed legislationwould restrictcollective bargaining Proposed languagewould targetworkers’ rights
Source: AFL-CIO
SlashingRights,CoasttoCoast
NewHampshire:‘TheToughestFightYet’
orNewHampshirestateRep.MichaelMcCarthy,unionvaluesdon’tjustbelongontheworksite—theyextendintothestatehouse.TheMiddleton,Mass.,Local2321memberandVerizonWirelessemployeewasoneofahandfulofRepublicanswhovotedinFebruaryagainstaright-to-workbill.Dover,N.H.,Local490memberswereamong300activistsandcitizenswhotestifiedinhearings.Onebyone,theystooduptospeakagainstthemeas-urethatwoulddivideandweakenallstateworkersbycompellingunionstorep-resentemployeeswhorefusetopaytheirfairsharethroughduescheck-off.Whileonlyabout25peopleshoweduptosupporttheright-to-worklegis-lation,itneverthelesspassedinthehouse.ThebillheadedtothestateSenateinlateMarch,and“isvirtuallyguaranteed”topassthebody,whereRepublicansholdavastmajority,Local460BusinessManagerJoeCaseysaid.“I’vebeeninvolvedinthisfightfor16yearsagainstlawmakersintroduc-ingthislegislation,andthisyear,there’snoguaranteethatworkingfamilieswillbeonthewinningside,”saidCasey,whoispresidentofthestate’sbuildingandconstructiontrades.“Thisisthetoughestfightwe’vehadyet,”aspro-workeradvocatesfaceanemboldenedanti-unionlawmakingbody.DemocraticGov.JohnLynchhaspledgedtovetothebill,whichwouldsenditbacktotheHouse.
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The Electrical Worker
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April 2011
3
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eachers,firefighters, healthcare workersand numerouspublicemployeestooktoFlorida’sstreetsin Marchforstatewide demonstrationsagainstRepublican-sponsored legislation toroll backworkers’ rights.Thenewlegislativesession,whichbeganMarch8,wasmetwithspiritedralliesinmorethan20cities,asthousandsofpro-workeractivistsbeganwhattheysaywillbeagrowinvoiceofoppositiontoGov.RickScott’splannedeliminationofcollec-tivebargainingrightsandPLAs,deepcutsinthestate’spubliceducationsystemandotherjob-killingpolicies.GOPstatesenatorsbeganthenewsessionwithplanstotackleFlorida’sbudget,introducetaxcutleg-islationforlargebusinessesanderodeworkers’gainsatthebargainingtable.ButIBEWmemberslikeJasonSmithsayactivistsareinvestedandopti-misticaboutthenextfewmonths.“I’veneverseenourstate’sworkersastogetherononeissueaswearenow,”saidSmith,amemberofTampaLocal824.Heservedasamobilizationcoordinatorforthecoali-tionoflaboractivistssponsoringthemassiveMarch8“AwaketheState”demonstrations.“Intheireffortstoscapegoatworkers,Republicanlead-ersoverplayedtheirhand.“People—including nonunionworkers—are connecting the dotsbetween unionsand the middleclass, and theyknow whatwill hap-pen to them ifourbargaining rightsare taken awayand ourjobsdestroyed,” hesaid.Orlando Local 606 BusinessManager Bob Carr citesScott’sapproval of tax breaks for large cor-porations asevidence thatthe gov-ernor’s policiesarefiscallyunsound.“Hisidea isto have almostnotaxeson corporations,”Carrsaid.“How isthatefficientbusiness? It’sjustgoing to putthe taxburden onworking people. Ourgovernorisjustlike [Wisconsin’s]ScottWalker, withthe goal to makeAmerica aThirdWorld country.”AbillthatwoulderodecollectivebargainingwassubmittedtotheFloridalegislaturebystateRep.ScottPlakon.Ifpassed,thelawwouldstripmostpublicworkersofunionrights,includingcollectivebargaining.Plakon—whowontheAssociatedBuilders&Contractors“FriendofFreeEnterprise”awardin2009—exemptedfirefightersandlawenforcementoffi-cersfromtheproposedlaw,whichlaborleaderssaywasanattempttodriveawedgebetweenthevariousstateemployeesunions.
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FloridaWorkers:StandingTogether 
I
n theface ofmassive protestsinIndianapolis, Republican lead-ership in the IndianaGeneralAssemblydrew backfrom itseffortsto passright-to-worklegislation inFebruary.“Thisisa bigvictoryforallworking people,”saysSouth BendLocal 153 Membership DevelopmentDirectorTroyWarner. “This‘right-to-work-for-less’ bill would have weak-ened thevoice ofworkingfamiliesinIndianapoliswhilestrengtheninthe powerofbig corporations.”MassralliesatthecapitolagainstthelegislationattractedthousandsofHoosierStateresidentsfromallwalksoflife,convincing manylegislatorstoabandonthebill.“When the ralliesstarted onMondayFeb. 22, we had more than2,000folksatthe capitol,” Warnersays. “ByTuesday, itwasup to 3,500and byWednesdayitwas6,000.WarneralsocreditsprotestsinWisconsinandOhioinhelpingtoconvinceGov.MitchDanielsandotherelectedofficialstobackofftheirthreatstogoafterworkers’rights.Adiverse coalition alignedagainstthe legislation—represent-ing academics, civil rightsorganiza-tions, communityactivistsand laborunions—despiteGOPeffortstodivide laboragainstitself.“InitiallytheGOPtoldthebuild-ingtradesthattheywouldexemptusfromtheright-to-worklawandtheywouldevenleaveprojectlaboragree-mentsaloneifwedidn’tprotest,”Warnersays.“Well,Ibelieveinunitedwestandanddividedwefallandanattackonworkers’rightsanywhereisattackonworkingpeopleevery-where,soweweren’tbuyingit.
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IndianaRight-to-WorkEffortDerailedbyLaborPushbac
ThousandsofIndianaresidentsfloodthestatecapitolinlateFebruary totelltheirlegislatorstovotenoon‘right-to-work- for-less’legislation.
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OPlawmakersin the nation’scapital are attempting to roll backworkers’ rightsunderthe guise ofbalancing thefederal budget.Republicansintroduced billsto defund the National LaborRelationsBoard, ban PLAs, eliminate prevailing wage law, restrictcollectivebargaining and impose a national right-to-workact.AndaresolutionpassedbytheHouseinFebruaryincludedhundredsof amendments—largelyfromTeaParty-affiliatedfreshmen—thatwouldgutfundingtoprogramsaddressingworkplacesafetyandpublichealth,along withcutstothousandsofjobtrainingfacilities.Alsoatriskareinitiativespro-motinginfantnutrition,earlychildhoodeducation,collegegrantsforlow-incomestudentsandmore.In a letterto House andSenate members, IBEW International PresidentEdwin D. Hillstated thatthe resolution, ifpassed, would makeCongress“responsibleforslashing good middle-classjobsand possiblytriggering a‘double-dip’ recession.”“TheUnitedStatesisstillinthemiddleofajobscrisis,”Hillwrote.“Ratherthanaddressthejobcrisis,theHousepassedabillwhichmayraiseunemploymentto10percent.ThisisnotwhatAmericansvotedforwhentheycasttheirballotsinNovember.”In an analysisofthe resolution, the WallStreetinvestmentfirmGoldmanSachsfound thatitwould reduce the country’seconomicgrowth byasmuch as2 percentofgrossdomesticproduct, likelyleading to aspike inunemploymentbyasmuch asa whole percentage point.And a chiefecono-mist with Moody’sAnalytics, a NewYork-basedfirmspecializing infinancialresearch,said thatthe plan would ax700,000 jobsbythe end ofnextyear.IBEW Political and Legislative DepartmentDirectorBrian Bakersaid theresolution and itsanti-workeramendmentsillustrate thatGOPlawmakers’callsfora balanced budgetand job growth are disingenuous.“We’vegottofigureouthowtogetpeoplebacktoworkinsteadofcutting programsthatbenefitthemiddleclass,”Bakersaid.The pastfew monthshaveseen modestimprovementsforworkingfami-lies nationwide.Claimsforunemploymentinsurance dipped, and consumerspending ison the rise. Butright-wing austeritymeasureswill onlyundercutlasting growth,said onestalwartallyofworkingfamilies.“Let’sinstead worktogetherand addressa primarycause ofourbudgetcrisis:yearsofeconomicdownturn and lostrevenue due in large parttotrade agreementsthatshipped jobsoverseas,”said OhioSen.SherrodBrown. “Let’spursue real reform ratherthan ideological attacksaimed atdividing working people.”Hillsaidthatthemassdemonstrationsnationwideareaclearsignthatentwinedissueslikeworkers’rightsandbudgetcutsaremoreprominentinthecollectiveconsciousnessofmiddle-classAmericansthantheyhavebeeninyears.“Theenemiesoftheworkingclassaretryingtodivideus,shunusandignoreus,Hillsaid.“Butthisenergyisjustgoingtoamplify.
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THEWAR ON WORKERS
continued on page 4
Meanwhile,BackinWashington,D.C.:
GOPPlanCallsforGuttinRights,SlashingJobs
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