by IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell
During the spring IBEW 1245 lost two retired business representatives: Mickey Harrington and Wayne Greer. I worked with both men for more than 20 years, and I mourn their deaths on a personal level. On a professional level, I know their work lives on.
Although both men left the union staff over a decade ago, they helped propel the union into the future. Mickey Harrington’s commitment to unionism was contagious, influencing many both within and beyond IBEW 1245. Wayne Greer was a master of leadership development, unsurpassed in his ability to recruit and mentor strong shop stewards to carry out the union’s mission.
Their contributions remain relevant today as we seek to build a renewed commitment to union principles among the next generation of union members who truly hold the future of unionism in their hands. I see signs every day that IBEW 1245 is successfully bridging our past and our future.
In May, we finished our service award dinners and our PG&E shop steward trainings for 2014, and in June we conducted our first-ever training for manufacturing stewards. These important events gave me a chance to meet with close to 2,000 of our members. The give-and-take with members in a bull room, a break room, or a meeting hall truly is the best part of my job–I can always count on members to bring fresh ideas to the complex issues we face throughout our large service area.
Members at PG&E moved ahead in several important areas this spring. They voted to extend the union contract for 12 months to let the dust settle from regulatory and criminal proceedings. Members also ratified letter agreements for gas service representatives and call-center bidding by strong margins. Large-scale negotiations continue with Gas T&D, and we have been working with new leadership in Electric T&D to prioritize issues and try to replicate the success we have had with gas. The Public Utilities Commission has finally issued a proposed decision in PG&E’s general rate case, and our forensic accountants have begun their analysis of the decision and its implications.
We continue to work with six other IBEW locals from Illinois, Iowa, Utah/Wyoming, Oregon/Washington, and Nevada to develop a better relationship with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company, which now owns NV Energy and employs 600 of our members. I met with the Iowa local in early June, and we are exploring ways to support IBEW 125 in Portland with their negotiations with Berkshire Hathaway this fall. We are operating on the theory that avoiding disasters in other parts of the company will help make us stronger for our own negotiations in 2017.
In Sacramento, we are working with our legislative advocate to fix Community Choice Aggregation. That program has been completely subverted by Shell Oil and their shell game of buying dirty power and “greenwashing” that power with unbundled renewable energy certificates that do nothing to reduce carbon emissions.
What do any of these activities and battle fronts have to do with Mickey or Wayne? Nothing and everything. IBEW 1245 is a large organization responsible for defending 20,000 members. Our mission is the same as when Mickey and Wayne were engaged in the struggle: defending our members. But as the world grows more complex, we have to do more than simply react to current threats. Our union faces complicated, nuanced choices every day. The true north of our compass is not any one particular policy or position–it is our commitment to improve the working lives of our members.
Mickey showed us what it means to live that commitment to union principles. Wayne showed us that leadership development is the way to carry those principles forward. That is our past.
And it is also our future.