We deeply regret to announce that longtime IBEW 1245 staffer Arlene Edwards passed away at the age of 70.
Sister Edwards was initiated into the IBEW in 1984 and worked for PG&E for 16 years. As a rank-and-file union member, Edwards served as a shop steward, Advisory Council member, and sat on numerous committees, from clerical consolidation to bargaining. She joined the IBEW 1245 staff in the fall of 2000, and worked for the union for 17 years before retiring in 2017.
“Arlene was one of the hardest-working staffers that Local 1245 has ever seen — She never hesitated to go the extra mile when it came to serving our members,” said 1245 Business Manager Bob Dean. “She was tough as nails, she knew the contract inside and out, and she always seemed to know exactly what to say to get management to see things from her perspective. But what impressed me most was I was her innate ability to identify and cultivate future leaders; many of our former and current staffers started off as stewards that Arlene recruited. She served this union well for many years. She will be missed, but not forgotten.”
“Arlene was a tiny five-foot force to be reckoned with. She was the person that exposed me to the power of the Brotherhood and gave me a taste of what it’s like to be a ‘union thug.’ When I was her Shop Steward, committee member, and unit chair, we battled PG&E arm-in-arm,” said Jammi Ouellette, a former 1245 steward-turned-organizer who now works for the IBEW International Office in Washington DC. “She always had my back. She never gave up on me, it was her persistence that got me involved and changed my life. I loved her and respected her deeply.”
“Arlene Edwards was my introduction to IBEW 1245,” recalled Assistant Business Manager Rene Cruz Martinez. “I attended a unit meeting and she encouraged me to get involved. She pushed me to be a shop steward and then recommended me to be an organizing steward. She truly cared about the members she represented. Her courage made an impact in me, and motivated me to be outspoken at the worksite.”
“When I got to the Sacramento Call Center in April of 1995, it became apparent that Arlene Edwards was the go-to shop steward in that building. Anytime I had a what I thought was a contractual question, I reached out to Arlene,” said Senior Assistant Business Manager Bryan Carroll. “Arlene was my advisor, sounding board and basically an encyclopedia on the CCO issues and the Clerical CBA. She never once rolled her eyes or let me know my question was stupid or she had already answered it 10 times that week. She taught me what a shop steward could be — and soon after, what a business rep should be. I wish I could thank her personally for what she taught me. But thinking of how she fought for members back in my career at Sac CCO still brings a smile to my face.”
“I met this wonderful woman in the late 1990’s while working for PG&E at the Sacramento Call Center. She replaced Wayne Greer as the IBEW Local 1245 Business Representative and encouraged me to become a Shop Steward. Her method for selection was not easy, and I worried that I would not meet her high standard,” recalled longtime steward Ruth Bailey, who is now retired. “She was a great mentor and followed the Union contract to the letter. She was fearless in the meetings we had with management. She took no crap from any of them, and could call them out when needed. She taught me well. I am very proud of this wonderful union woman and will miss her dearly.”
“These thoughts come to mind when I remember Arlene,” said retired Assistant Business Manager Dorothy Fortier. “Warrior. Reliable. Talented. Honest. Organized. Knowledgeable. Fair Minded. Dedicated. Compassionate. Hard Worker. Fun Lover. Contract Enforcer. High Principles. Mentor. Family Oriented. Considerate. Diplomatic. Team Player. And she always commanded the respect of members and management.”
photos via IBEW 1245 archive