Members of Local 1245 came to work on Sept. 30 with a message for NV Energy: “Don’t Tread on Me.”The Revolutionary War slogan appears on a new IBEW sticker that members slapped on shirts, hats, windows,trucks—basically anything that didn’t move and a few things that did.
The sticker features a snake wrapped protectively around
the IBEW logo, a graphic warning that union members will
defend the gains they’ve won through decades of collectivebargaining.
“All the stuff that the guys fought and earned before us, they’re trying to take it away,” said
NV Energy Troubleman Bruce Warmuth andchair of Unit 3320 in North Lake Tahoe. We owe it to those guys to fight and try to keep
what we got.”Warmuth displayed the “Don’t Tread on Me” sticker when he came to work Sept. 30—and
he wasn’t alone. Nearly the entire workforce in both North Lake and South Lake slapped on the stickers in a show of solidarity with the union negotiating committee. In fact, stickers were popping up throughout NV Energy’s
entire northern territory on Sept. 30.
On-going contract bargaining has members
concerned—and for good reason. NV Energy,
among other targets, has drawn a bead onretiree medical benefits. On Sept. 29 the
company upped the ante in negotiations by
announcing its intention to cancel the union
contract.Local 1245 members are understandably concerned about the company’s intentions,a“We’re first on the line, first on the phones, the first customer contact,” said CSR Working and have now begun to signal their own determination to protect the standard of living and rights on the job embedded in the labor agreement—rights they’ve earned through their service to the company.
Foreman Michele Piechocinsky, asserting the value that Clerical members bring to
the company’s operations. “We are the first impression that people get of this company. We
take pride in what we
do and we want to be recognized for doing a good job in being the first contact.”
The snake has been part of American political culture since before the Revolutionary War,
first appearing in a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin in 1754. The snake was cut into
eight sections, representing individual colonies, and playing off a common superstition that a snake cut into pieces could come back to life if you joined the sections together before sunset.The suggestion, of course, was that individual pieces could be transformed into a formidable
power through unity.In 1774 Paul Revere added the snake to the masthead of the newspaper called TheMassachusetts Spy.
By 1775, the snake symbol had spread far beyond the pages of newspapers. It was
appearing on uniform buttons, on papermoney, on banners and flags—anywhere that
colonists saw an opportunity to declare their intention of defending themselves.
That same year, Congress authorized
the mustering of five companies of Marines for the
war of independence that was getting underway against Great Britain. Some of the
Marines who enlisted in Philadelphia were
carrying drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a fierce rattlesnake with 13
and ready to strike, and sporting the motto:
“Don’t Tread on Me.”
An anonymous letter to the Philadelphia Journal in late 1775 offered this observation on the
“She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an
emblem of magnanimity and true courage. … she never wounds ‘till she has generously
given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.”
It is now believed that the “anonymous” author was Ben Franklin himself.
Members at NV Energy who need a copy of the sticker can contact Mike Grimm at 775-720-