IBEW 1245 registrars, including staffers Rene Cruz Martinez, Charlotte Stevens and Melissa Echeverria, as well as Organizing Steward Lead Alvin Dayoan, joined Business Manager Bob Dean and Assistant Business Manager Hunter Stern at the CA State Association of Electrical Workers (CSAEW) Legislative Conference in Sacramento. The three-day conference focused on advancing legislative priorities for IBEW locals across the state.
On the first day of the conference, the registrars spent the day hearing from several legislators, including Congressman Adam Schiff and Senator Maria Elena Durazo. Reports were provided from IBEW International leaders Leroy Chinchio and Dave Reaves who spoke of the IBEW reaching young people, minorities, and veterans.
Coinciding with the first day of the conference, five IBEW 1245 organizing stewards (Brandon Fosselman, Gordon Young, Nichele Bissett, Kayela Jones, and Rafael Burgos) were dispatched to the front of the state capitol to handbill legislativors and thier staff to express our opposition of AB538, an energy regionalization bill which threatens over a million green union jobs.
“When we ran into Assemblymember Mia Bonta and Liz Ortega, they were both thrilled to see us in our IBEW 1245 blue jackets,” remarked Lead Organizing Steward Brandon Fosselman. “Ortega has so much respect for the work that we put in for her campaign that she was all-ears on our positions. She went as far as to say that 1245 is ‘always welcome in her office,’ and we didn’t even need an appointment. It comments like that which show the true value in our organizing program. We pay it forward when we help people get elected and later down the road, they pay us back with their support on our positions on legislation that could impact our members.”
The second day we were briefed in the morning by our lobbyist Scott Wetch on our legislative priorities that we were going to be discussing that day. IBEW 1245, in true fashion, had a full calendar of scheduled meetings with 14 legislators. Together with our organizing stewards, we swarmed upon the capitol to speak on bills pertaining to regionalization (AB538), utility worker safety (SB705), Interconnection (SB410 & SB83, PLA’s (SB574), and housing (SB423 & SB270).
“This was my second time lobbying, and I enjoyed the learning experience,” said Organizing Steward Gordon Young. “A standout experience was when I sat with 1245 Political Director Hunter Stern, Local 551 Political Director Natalie Higley, and my local Senator, Mike McGuire, to discuss important bills. My time in Sacramento made for another enlightening experience of doing the important work for IBEW 1245, as well as many other labor unions.”
The conference concluded at the State Building & Construction Trades Council, where we heard from President Andrew Meredith who spoke of advocating for skilled and trained worker protections and fighting for the rights of unionized workers. He is also advocating for legislation to help women seek opportunity in the trades, which would offer a childcare subsidy for women who are in an apprenticeship.
“These experiences that we are able to have are extremely important — not only to me, but our union as a whole. We get to see what goes on behind the scenes and make differences in our communities,” said Organizing Steward Kayela Jones. “I never thought I would be so interested in politics, but I have learned more with the union in the past year than I ever have in my 32 years of living, and it has now become a passion of mine. It’s more than just paying our dues, we get to see the union fight for us, our brothers and sisters, our families, and our communities. The union truly has our backs and our best interests at heart… And I was able to see that first-hand during this time. The union has truly changed my life in so many ways and I am so grateful to be apart of such a great brother/sisterhood.”
–Melissa Echeverria, IBEW 1245 Organizer