NEXT UP: YOUNG WORKERS SUMMIT
NEW FRIENDSHIPS, AND NEW BLOOD INTO THE LABOR MOVEMENT
By Graciela Nunez
I walked through the airport up to a group of young people waiting by the Super Shuttle. As I got closer, I saw familiar faces and others, not so familiar, that seemed friendly and eager. Everyone was smiling. We stood in a circle and introduce ourselves….we all came from different places: PG&E Clerical, Physical, and DCPP, Sacramento Regional Transit, Davey Tree, NV Energy, Modesto Irrigation District and Outside Line but there’s one thing that bonded us together, we’re all IBEW 1245
From the moment we checked in to our hotel, it was “go” time. The entire delegation entered the plenary session. Local 1245 sat in the center, six rows back from the podium—a perfect view. After a few speakers came up, it was time for our very own Lorenso Arciniega, a member of the Young Workers Advisory Council, to come up and present one of the keynote speakers. We stood in the audience, in unison, and cheered, so very proud to be IBEW 1245. Lorenso spoke with such confidence and introduced a very influential Hispanic woman, Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
Secretary Solis spoke on many issues that affect young workers, including the American Jobs Act. At the conclusion of her speech, she asked Lorenso to join her on stage and she raised his arm in a victory salute like at the end of a boxing match.
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler, a former executive assistant to IBEW President Ed Hill, also addressed the delegation. After a few more speakers, we moved to the Welcome Reception, where we shook hands and gave hugs to our brothers and sisters from other unions that we’d met in the past and gained new brothers and sisters. As that concluded, we went out for a night in Minneapolis, a city that was new to many of us.
The next day, it was back to business. Plenary sessions, breakout sessions, working lunch, workshops…all of this from 9 AM to 3 PM. The one I enjoyed the most, was called Power Analysis: Know Your Targets. It took me back to our PG&E Clerical negotiations when Eileen brought up all these different groups that we needed to target to make an impact with PG&E when “two tier” and contracting were proposed. At that moment I realized there is so much that we as young workers have to learn. In the breakout session, we talked about the Koch brothers and all the organizations and businesses that they were tied to. What was their weakness and what was our strength?
Later that evening, we attended a function for Californians in the AFL-CIO. There we met many people from different local unions. It made me wonder why this hadn’t happen before, long before, and why not in California. I later pulled up a map of just IBEW in California and found myself amazed and surprised at how many locals exist around us. This map doesn’t even include all the unions and organizations that support the labor movement outside IBEW!
Saturday morning there was an IBEW caucus. Unfortunately, President Hill was unable to attend. In his absence, Executive Assistant Sherilyn Wright attended. We talked about the combined Resolutions 14 and 61 at the recent IBEW convention that showed support for young workers. The adoption of this combined resolution reaffirmed the International’s commitment to develop young workers in IBEW.
Executive Assistant Wright thanked Local 1245 for submitting Resolution 61. The resolution stated that IBEW would have a separate conference for IBEW young workers starting in 2012, either before or after the yearly NextUP: Young Workers Summit. We also discussed what we’d like to see happen during that conference. The meeting adjourned and we were off to handle summit business, more plenaries and workshops (too many to list). Later that evening, we had an IBEW social at another popular spot. Following was a Next Up Celebration, food, fun, and dancing.
After several long days, we arrived at the last day of the summit. Several people spoke including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. He spoke on the turmoil affecting the youth and the future. Our group slowly started to vanish as it was time to catch our flights and we all took with us the knowledge gained and a list of new people who share the same goal, to keep the labor movement going!
Graciela Nunez currently serves on the IBEW Local 1245 PG&E Benefits Bargaining Committee.