Ten member-leaders and eight staffers represented Local 1245 at the IBEW 9th District Progress Meeting which took place in late summer in Seattle. The conference was packed with compelling speakers, eye-opening workshops, educational presentations, and unique activities.
“Having had the opportunity to attend this conference for a second time, I can say without a doubt this was the most impressive and impactful union event in my experience,” said 1245 Advisory Council member Steve Ross, who works for SMUD. “I forged friendships with fellow members that I will take with me to the end of my career and beyond. Bonds were formed that may be tested in the future, but will never be broken. I hope for all our members’ sake that they have a chance to experience the same inspiration and feeling of value that we walked away with.”
“This was by far the most interesting, energizing, collaborative event I’ve ever had the honor to attend,” echoed IBEW 1245 Advisory Council member Joshua Davidson, who works for the City of Vallejo. “Over the last week I learned about our union’s history, our passion, and compassion. I was able to meet with brothers and sisters from all over the district and build lasting bonds that will help elevate my career and IBEW in the future.”
The conference touched on many high-level topics that will impact the future of our union, including new legislation, infrastructure investment, political engagement, and the importance of organizing to keep the IBEW strong.
“A major highlight for me was International President Kenneth W. Cooper’s speech,” said Rafael Burgos Jr, an IBEW 1245 shop, safety and organizing steward who works for SMUD. “His statement that ‘The Union provides a path to the middle class’ was a strong, impactful message that I and my family have personally benefited from.”
“One of my favorite IBEW quotes I learned from the meeting was ‘Our cause is the cause of human justice, human rights, and human security,’ — and I couldn’t agree more,” said 1245 Organizing Steward Kayela Jones, who works for PG&E.”We really got to see an in-depth perspective of how much the union genuinely fights for working people and their families.”
There was also a heavy emphasis on some tough but critical topics that impact our membership every day.
“The most relevant topics we got to hear about were on diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging. Looking around the room, especially at our delegation, it is more than obvious that the IBEW puts its words into action and truly believes in a diverse and inclusive organization,” said James Olson, who is the chair of IBEW 1245’s City of Vallejo unit. “We listened to a difficult topic where our own members pointed out injustices perpetrated by those who came before us, and the message was to learn and grow from those mistakes.”
“A major takeaway I had was in our final meeting, when a Canadian brother, Jim Watson, gave a presentation about the labor perspective on mental health issues,” said Shop Steward and Organizing Steward Britney Morris, who works for NV Energy.. “It was just another reminder that I am my brother’s keeper, and I am my sister’s keeper. This reaffirms to me that the IBEW is a family, and I am proud to be one of local 1245.”
“Our category of employees (electrical) ranks #2 by researchers as the highest suicide rate by occupation. That’s pretty alarming,” said Organizing Steward Rocio Gianelli, noting that the mental health presentation also touched on related topics of domestic violence and substance abuse. “As human beings, we need to check in on each other. We can be the difference to someone in need.”
During the conference awards ceremony, Local 1245 received recognition for outstanding growth:
- A Membership increase for 2022: 1,007 new members/16.2%
- BA Membership increase for 2022: 3,672 new members/19.6%
- Total Membership increase for 2022: 4,679 new members/18.8%
“Local 1245 received the most awards. We even received a standing ovation,” said Jones. “It was amazing to have so many different locals come up to us and tell us how much they respected what we are doing, and it felt so great to see our hard work being recognized and appreciated.”
“I was so incredibly proud to be a Local 1245 sister as we received each acknowledgement of all of our members and how incredibly hard our organizing team works to make us the largest local in the Ninth District,” said Morris.
Nearly all the delegates echoed Morris’ sentiments, remarking on how much pride they felt in their union, both during and after the meeting.
“Professionally, I could not be prouder to belong to such an incredible organization… “It was truly one of the best experiences of my entire professional career,” said Olson.
“I am proud to be associated with my brothers and sisters of 1245, their dedication and leadership to the Local and International set a high standard for all to follow,” said Burgos. “When LU 1245 enters the room, we are noticed. We are strong because of all our individual strengths, acting in unity to accomplish a common goal.”
“After spending so much time with so many delegates from across the district, I am struck with an overwhelming pride to be a part of such a powerful family,” said Davidson. “I feel stronger and more connected than I could have imagined. Thank you for the opportunity and the honor of attending. Now I truly understand that our unity is our strength and we are powerful.”
“I must say this has been one of the most engaged and interactive groups I have attended a conference with,” said Organizer and Assistant Business Manager Rene Cruz Martinez. “There were new friendships and bonds formed coming out of this time we spent together. Seeing the faces of our brothers and sisters who were first time attendees and their willingness to take in all of the information was inspiring. It took me back to my first organizing meeting I attended not knowing anyone. This is what brotherhood and sisterhood is all about.”