Seven IBEW 1245 organizing stewards, along with Local 1245 staff organizer Charlotte Stevens, attended the 32nd Annual IBEW International Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) Leadership Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was “Inspiring Resilience & Nurturing Strength,” and took place on Zoom in mid-January. Below, the attendees reflect on highlights from the conference.
This year’s conference was held virtually, and although we miss the in-person fellowship between the brotherhood/sisterhood, the wealth of knowledge we received is valuable and delivers well, even virtually. With seven organizing stewards, and myself, we were able to attend all the workshops offered. I attended Lobbying 101, facilitated by Sergio Espinosa and Rennie Blye, International Representatives in Government Affairs; and Running To Win, facilitated by Sylvester Taylor, Local 1, EWMC Chapter President. Lobbying 101 explained the basics of lobbying and the importance of people power within the union. Running To Win reminded us that all politics are local, to get involved in our local elections, and the importance of having union members in office. EWMC has always delivered quality workshops with relevant information that can be utilized at our home locals.
— Charlotte Stevens
With this year’s EWMC conference being facilitated virtually, I thought there may have been some deficiencies, but to my surprise, it kept us engaged and informed just like the previous years — and I was given the prestigious honor of being the selected representative of IBEW 1245. During the conference, I attended two workshops that were very informative, I was provided new information and knowledge to go back to my local and help others. The workshop that I was looking forward to the most was about workers’ rights. I learned quite a bit from this workshop; particularly the classification of different types of employees. In addition, I learned about all the rights that unions have helped create and implement, which benefit not just union employees but all employees. Lastly, I learned the guidelines of striking; when it is ok to go on strike and under what grounds employees can strike. Cheers Keith Edwards and the EWMC team for organizing an amazing informative virtual conference.
— Foster Goree
The first workshop that I attended was Winning the War to Preserve the Truth and Strengthen Our Democracy with Mark McDermott. Mark spoke about the many lies that the media throws in our face and while we become consumed with false information we tend to fall into the hands of negligent leaders and standing up for empty promises. We have to remember to think for ourselves, come together with our truths, and elect those officials that have our best interest at hand. I am grateful and I am just happy to converse with my fellow brothers and sisters about being a better and more inclusive union!
— Valarie Moralez
This conference featured lots of great speakers, from the first EWMC President, Robbie Sparks, to Grace Meng, the first congresswoman of Asian decent in the New York State legislature. Similar paths of obstruction met the majority of the minorities who spoke at the conference. They were all doubted and disrespected, and they all rose above the criticism to prove that your nationality or ethnic background has nothing to do with how good you can be at your job. The workers’ rights workshop was big, it was two hours, and it was mainly a discussion on the ins and outs of the labor movement and the rules and regulations that came out of it. This type of training makes members more aware of the impact they can have on contract negotiations, submitting proposals, and influencing what work looks like for them and their fellow members day to day. I want to thank IBEW 1245 for the opportunity to attend. I look forward to attending the next in-person event and would love the opportunity to be a guide for first-timers and help them recognize the value these conferences provide.
— Brandon Fosselman
I had a great time at the EWMC. I’m just sad that we couldn’t be in person, but I’m glad we’re able to continue the legacy. The first night was great because I was so honored to listen to Robbie Sparks take us down memory lane. She was such a joy to listen to as she explains the rules of the game to us in her own words. To see how passionate she was and still is has inspired me to want to make change. Thank you IBEW 1245 for allowing the opportunity to attend this conference. The conference is so empowering and I loving seeing different cultures come together to show that our lives do matter.
— Danielle Bonds
I am very thankful to be a delegate at our 32nd EWMC Annual Leadership Conference for 2022. The convention focused on mental health, and I was highly impressed of Dr. Keith Dempsey’s presentation on the importance of mental health in improving our livelihood. One of the workshops that I attended is Ready to Grow Our Union? Organizing is the Crucial Tool hosted by our sister Jammi Ouellette, Director of P&I Organizing and Danielle Buchanan, International Lead Organizer in the 4th District. During the Q&A portion of the workshop [with the focus on mental health in mind], I asked the presenters what they do to avoid being overworked and burning out on the job. They responded with being mindful of your breaks and days off, along with scheduling time for yourself, because being an organizer is not a 9-5 job or 40-hour work week. Keith Edwards also chimed to comment on finding a balance. I will forever remember this useful advice.
— Alvin Dayoan