In the picture to the left, International President Ed Hill, Local 222 South Florida Representative Willy Dezayas, Local 222 President Dale Smithmier, Local 222 Business Manager Mike Bell and International Secretary/Treasurer Jon Walters after Local 222 is awarded for the highest percentage increase in membership in any construction local in the 5th District for the year of 2005.
Dezayas, Smithmier, and Bell accepted the award on behalf of Local 222 in Atlanta, Ga. during the April 5th Distric Progress meeting.
The IBEW has certainly grown in numbers and strength since the beginning, but it has also faced it's share of seemingly insurmountable obstacles including two World Wars, the Great Depression, internal contentions, and a myriad of hostile and anti-union government leaders. All that withstanding however, the IBEW has become the oldest and largest electrical union in the world.
The IBEW has and will continue to unite people with no exclusion due to ethnic, religious, social, or political background. The Union is about brotherhood and brotherhood knows no exclusion.
In today's world, electricity is everywhere. From the moment we wake, to the moment we wake again, electricity is existing to make our lives easier, and in ways uncountable, we rely on electricity. The men and women of the IBEW are greatly to thank for the widespread and convenient electricity consumed daily. Without hardworking, dedicated electrical workers, we'd be living in a much more primative world.
Being a member of the IBEW is something to be quite proud of. We are an organization aimed at perpetually improving the industry of electrical work. We exist for the well-being of the workers. We are a network of Unions looking to get each member into the best job and location possible. We are a family, looking out for one another -- ensuring the idea of brotherhood transcends the generations.
In any walk of life, you have to ask yourself, 'what will I leave behind?' Within the IBEW, the answer is a sense of family, brotherhood and unity amongst co-workers. A safe work environment and the best situations for all involved.
The nucleus of our Brotherhood formed in 1891 in a small room above a joint called Stolley's Dance Hall.
An exposition was held in St. Louis that year featuring "a glorious display of electrical wonders." Wiremen and linemen from all over the United Sates flocked to Missouri's queen city to wire the buildings and erect the exhibits which were the "spectaculars" of their era.
The men got together at the end of each long workday and talked about the toil and conditions for workers in the electrical industry. The story was the same everywhere. The work was hard; the hours long; the pay small.
It was common for a lineman to risk his life on the high lines 12 hours a day in any kind of weather, seven days a week, for the meager sum of 15 to 20 cents an hour. Two dollars and 50 cents a day was considered excellent wages for Wiremen, and many men were forced to accept work for $8.00 a week.
There was no apprenticeship training, and safety standards were nonexistent. In some areas the death rate for linemen was one out of every two hired, and nationally the death rate for electrical workers was twice that of the national average for all other industries.
It's no wonder the electrical workers of the Gay 90s sought betterment for their industry.
A union was the only logical answer; so this small group gathered in St. Louis sought help from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). An organizer named Charles Cassel was assigned to help them and chartered the group as the Electrical Wiremen and Linemen's Union, No. 5221, of the AFL.
A St. Louis lineman, Henry Miller, was elected president of that Union. International Office archive photos show him to be a tall, handsome man with broad, powerful shoulders; keen blue eyes; and reddish-brown hair (he is pictured above). To him and the other workers at that St. Louis exposition, it was apparent their small union was only a starting point.
Isolated Locals would be able to accomplish little as bargaining agencies. To successfully and positively change the industry, these men knew they would have to form one large, national organization. Only a national organization of electrical workers with jurisdiction covering the entire industry could win better treatment from the corporate empires engaged in telephone, telegraph, electric power, electrical contracting and electrical-equipment manufacturing.
And so this group of ten men formed the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. After eight successful years of organizing, bargaining, growing, and continually improving conditions for electrical workers, the NBEW expanded to inlcude Canada and officially changed it's named to what we know it now -- the IBEW
This poem by Chan Gardiner identifies the creed, dedication, and mighty mind-power of the Lineman as they face the worst of conditions. In times when any other person would be holed up with their family, safe from the storm, Lineman brave the weather to protect and serve. Gardiner sheds light on what a Lineman will go through to ease your burdens in these times and what little recognition they receive.
By Chan Gardiner
They sings of the men as goes down to sea;
Of the heroes of cannon and swords;
An' writes of the valors of dead chivalry,
An' the bravery of old knights n' lords.
They sighs 'cause the romances of knighthood is past,
'Cause there ain't no ideals any more;
They says that this old world's a rollin too fast
To develop that "esprit de corps."
But them as complains are the ones as don't know,
Who sits loose where it's warm and then kick --
They ain't never seen a line saggin with snow
An' had to get service back -- quick!
They ain't never struggled with Death at their side,
A-snappin' and hissin' and pale --
Nor clung to the towers and grimly defied
The assaults of the blizzards and gale.
They sit and are served with never a thought
Of the fellers out pluggin' like Hell --
To supply at their touch the service they've brought
With a light, or the sound of a bell.
These fellers ain't togged out all shinin' in steel,
They don't ride around on no horse --
They don't sing no songs about how they feel
In the gales when the feeders may cross.
They don't wave no banners embroidered in gold,
In Latin nobody can read;
They don't do no braggin' of deeds that were bold,
Their motto is "service and speed."
Their armor ain't nothin' but slickers an' boots
Their weapons are climbers and pliers,
Their battles are fought up where hi-tension shoots
An' Death lurks unseen on the wires.
They're fightin' on gales and the blizzards an' ice,
Protectin' the towers and span
With effort not measured in hours or price --
For one cause -- service to man!
So here's to the Lineman -- the son of a gun
That can do without sleep for a week!
That sticks to the job 'til it's every bit done
And the feeders can carry the peak.
For his is that Knighthood that's noblest by far
That highest and mightiest clan,
That's fightin' the battles of things-as-they-are
In the cause of the Service of man.