by Rebecca Band
Without them, we’d be sitting in the dark, freezing cold or unbearably hot. We wouldn’t be able to charge our cell phones, make our morning coffee, use our computers or watch our favorite sporting event on TV. When we’re safe in our homes amidst a big storm, they’re braving the weather to do their work. And when there’s an electrical emergency, they are the first responders who risk their own lives to serve our communities.
They are the lineworkers who power America, and IBEW 1245 believes these dedicated and hard-working men and women deserve a day of recognition that they can truly call their own.
Earlier this year, the IBEW 1245 Executive Board designated July 10 as the date that the union officially recognizes as Lineman Recognition Day. July 10 holds special meaning for all union linemen, because it was on that date in in 1896 that IBEW founder Henry Miller lost his life when he was electrocuted and fell while working on power lines in Washington DC.
In those days, half of all linemen died on the job, which is what prompted Miller to start the IBEW, to make linework safer, better and more reliable for the workers and the communities they serve. His legacy is what inspired the union to choose July 10 — the anniversary of Miller’s fatal accident — as the day to commemorate linemen and the challenging and dangerous jobs they do every day.
“These men and women are working at heights, with high voltages and often in bad weather to power the areas they live and work in,” said IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell. “It’s tough work, and we’re proud of the critical role they play.”
The union encouraged all lineworker employers to mark the occasion by expressing their appreciation for their own linemen. PG&E reports that they held Lineman Day celebrations at 54 locations on July 10, where they recognized and thanked their 1,500 lineworkers for providing safe and reliable power to hundreds of communities. The company gave all the linemen baseball caps and a copy of the 1934 novel “Slim,” about the early days of electric line workers. For more highlights from the PG&E events, click here.
“The job of a lineman is absolutely essential, both to California’s economy and our way of life,” PG&E’s Executive Vice President of Electric Operations, Geisha Williams, said in a press release. “It’s a job that can be quite unpredictable and — as a result — requires a unique combination of strength, coordination and problem solving in order to be successful. PG&E is proud to partner with the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local 1245 to celebrate everything these men and women do for our customers.”
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District marked the occasion by sending a thank-you note to their linemen to express their appreciation. “To our crews: Thank you for your sacrifices and hard work under difficult conditions. Thank you for keeping the lights on in our community. Thank you for making us all look good,” the note read.
Since 2012, there have been several efforts to honor linemen with a “national day.” An association with strong ties to management at non-union utilities in the south has been promoting April 18 as “National Journeyman Linemen Day.” In response, the IBEW teamed up in 2014 with the Edison Electric Institute to celebrate March 31 as National Lineman Appreciation Day. Congressional resolutions have been introduced in support of both dates. With support from IBEW 1245 and IBEW 47 in southern California, Rep. Linda Sanchez recently introduced HR 516 in the US Congress to recognize July 10 as National Journeyman Lineman Day. Additionally, the California State Assembly recently designated July 10th as Journeyman Linemen Recognition Day in California.