While working to restore power after a storm, IBEW Founder Henry Miller fell after coming into contact with a live wire. He died later that night. The date was July 10, 1896.
The date of July 10 has carried special meaning within the IBEW since the union’s inception. This day honors not only Miller, but every lineman whose life has been improved through Miller’s legacy and the IBEW.
When Miller started the union over a century ago, he had a clear vision of the future of linework – and although he never got a chance to see it come to fruition, I believe he would be proud of all that we’ve accomplished for linemen over the generations. By following in his footsteps, carrying on the brotherhood he started, and expanding his legacy, our union has succeeded in making linework — which, in Miller’s time, had a fatality rate of around 50% — into a quality, long-term career.
Today, IBEW 1245 boasts more linemen in our jurisdiction than any other IBEW local in the nation, and we’re proud of the incredible and essential work they do every day and night. While the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, linemen didn’t miss a beat, and the union worked to keep our linemen protected from the virus, while the linemen worked to keep lights on (and devices charged) for the customers. When wildfires strike, our linemen are on the scene, supporting first responders and bringing power back to hard-hit communities – and they’re also the ones upgrading thousands of miles of wire with more fire-resistant alternatives. Whenever there’s a utility emergency, our linemen don’t need to get ready, because they’re always ready. And when a big storm hits, it’s the linemen who head out to work while everyone else hunkers down indoors.
These dedicated men and women deserve a day to call their own, and in 2014 — 118 years after Miller lost his life on the job — IBEW Local 1245, in partnership with Local 47, succeeded in officially establishing July 10 as Lineman Appreciation Day through the California Legislature. This year, Representatives Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and David McKinley (R-WV) will be introducing resolutions in the U.S. House, and Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Barrasso (R-WY) will do the same in the Senate. These resolutions recognize July 10, 2021, as a national day of honor for some of the hardest working men and women in the nation.
This kind of formal recognition is important, but the very best way we can honor Miller and his legacy is by harkening back to his original goal of making linework safer – and practicing all that he preached in regards to safety. In recent months, we’ve seen far too many injuries and fatalities, and on this Lineman Appreciation Day 2021, I implore each and every lineman, here and everywhere, to work safe. Watch out for your brothers and sisters on the job. And don’t hesitate to say something if there’s a potentially unsafe situation arising.
In organizing linemen into a union, Miller’s primary goal was to get each and every lineman home safe at the end of the day. On this Lineman Appreciation Day, as we honor the men and women who power America, we also commit to doing all we can to keep our linemen safe and healthy, today and every day.
-Bob Dean, IBEW 1245 Business Manager