It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of former IBEW 1245 Business Manager Perry Zimmerman, who served as the union’s leader from 2001-2006.
“Perry was a mentor to us all and a great leader,” said 1245 Business Manager Bob Dean. “He hired me as a Business Rep for 1245, for which I will be forever grateful. My heart goes out to Perry’s whole family, especially his son and our 1245 colleague, Scott.”
Zimmerman was initiated into IBEW Local 1245 in 1961 and started his union career as a laborer in the Gas Department at PG&E. He later worked as a gas serviceman and service operator, travelling all around the system. As an IBEW 1245 member at PG&E, he took on many roles within the union – shop steward, unit chair, and Advisory Council member. He eventually joined the IBEW 1245 staff as a Business Representative in 1981.
In 2001, he ran against 1245’s longtime incumbent Business Manager, Jack McNally, and won. He moved quickly to heal the divisions of the contested election, and considers his first decision — naming Tom Dalzell to be his Senior Assistant Business Manager — one of the most important that he made in terms of re-establishing unity among the staff and membership.
As Business Manager, Zimmerman visited hundreds of worksites and insisted that his staff be visible as well. He consciously downshifted relations with the top brass at PG&E and focused on strengthening the union’s traditional bargaining relationship with PG&E’s Department of Industrial Relations.
During the first 16 months of Zimmerman’s term, IBEW 1245 beat back three attempts by public power activists to engineer a municipal takeover of PG&E’s assets in San Francisco. The most notable effort, Proposition D, would have given the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission responsibility for generating electricity for city residents – with no provisions to safeguard the wages, working conditions or union status of Local 1245 members working for PG&E in San Francisco.
“We have nothing against municipal power. We represent workers at many municipal utilities. But this particular measure threatened to displace thousands of our members while doing nothing to address San Francisco’s energy supply problems, so we had no choice but to fight it,” said Zimmerman.
In 2002, Zimmerman spear-headed the relocation of the IBEW 1245 union hall from Walnut Creek to Vacaville. Ronald T. Weakley Hall was opened in October of 2003 with 1245’s founder, Ron Weakley, in attendance.
Zimmerman was re-elected as business manager in 2004, and retired in mid-2006, when the Executive Board appointed Dalzell as his successor.
“I will be leaving this job with no regrets. I have enjoyed every minute of serving you,” he wrote in a message to the membership on the occasion of his retirement. “I will miss you and I will miss the chance to make your working lives better, but you’ll do fine without me. I could not have accomplished even a small part of what I have accomplished over the last five years without your strong and constant support. I am grateful and humbled by the confidence that you have shown in my leadership and the support that you have given over the years.”
When he wasn’t serving the union, Zimmerman enjoyed playing golf and poker, and spending time with his wife Delores and their blended family of seven children.