Alarmed by political attacks on unions in recent years, Business Manager Tom Dalzell began offering younger members unprecedented opportunities to be involved in the union’s core mission of building strength through unity.
Young members were enlisted in 2010 to defend the PG&E Clerical bargaining unit against PG&E’s regressive bargaining proposals. In following years, dozens of IBEW 1245 volunteers (later called “organizing stewards”) took union-paid leaves to defend workers under attack in several states, from Maine to Louisiana to Alaska. In California they used the skills they learned in these campaigns to defeat the anti-union Proposition 32.
In 2014 organizing stewards helped elect the mayor of Lompoc and secured additional victories at the SMUD Board of Directors, the Oakland City Council, the South Feather Water and Power Board of Directors, the Merced Irrigation District Board of Directors, and the Redding City Council. IBEW 1245’s organizing steward program has been honored by the California Labor Federation and the IBEW International office and is now being emulated by other unions.
Organizing stewards also put together sporting events that build camaraderie among members while raising money for local charities, which strengthens bonds between IBEW 1245 and local communities across California and Nevada. The Executive Board expanded this concept in 2012 by creating the IBEW 1245 Community Fund, enabling IBEW 1245 units to assist local charitable causes.
IBEW 1245 instituted peer safety programs for members in electric, gas and tree trimming that encourage members to be their “brother’s keeper.” Other IBEW locals have visited Local 1245 to study this program in action.
In the fall of 2015, IBEW 1245 explored additional ways of building worker unity by taking part in Brotherhood Without Borders, an initiative by IBEW 77 member Brady Hansen to modernize tools, equipment and work practices for linemen in the South American country of Suriname.
The search for worker strength through unity that began for IBEW utility workers in 1900 continues …