Peoria • Galesburg • Quincy
Business Manager - Paul Flynn



 Labor Paper Article 

June 13, 2017

Brothers and Sisters of Local 34:

     In my last article, I wished everyone a Happy Memorial Day.  Now I wish you all a Happy 4th of July.  Talk about how time flies!  Whew, it goes by too fast.  While we are on the subject of time going by too fast, the apprentice graduation party was held at the JATC last Friday evening.  Special guest speaker International Vice President of the 6th District, Brother David Ruhmkorff, addressed the graduates.  His message was to never stop learning.  Your apprenticeship is over, but your Journeyman career is just beginning.  The most common comment I heard was that “I can’t believe how fast 5 years, or 3 years, has gone by.”  But the best comment I heard came from an instructor when I thanked him for attending the graduation banquet.  He said, “It is starting to feel like a family down here (The JATC).”  Now that is what I call success.

     The dedication of the graduating class this past 3 years or 5 years has not gone unnoticed.   Friday night we celebrated your accomplishments and look to the future for your leadership.  You have made it to the big leagues of the electrical industry, you are the “Cubs” of the electrical industry.  Just like professional sports.  It’s not enough to just arrive.  Just to make the team.  If you want playing time, you have to perform to keep your starting position.  That doesn’t mean you break what the contract says to get ahead.  It means you live by the contract and live by the Code of Excellence.  So, I also ask that you actively continue your education.  Become a JATC instructor, join a committee and be involved in your Union.  Be active in your community and serve a charity.  Volunteer.

     In the words of a 2011 IBEW convention resolution, “the continued strength and vitality of the labor movement depends heavily on the ability of younger union members to develop into strong and effective labor leaders.”  I could not agree more with this resolution.  I ask that you learn the backstory of your union.  To understand and organize along with the older membership, it is important to understand the battles they fought and inherited.  It might be easy to blame older members and leadership for what you may see as failures and mistakes.  But remember that we are all on the same side of the bargaining table.

     Make time to understand the nuts and bolts of your Union.  If you want to get involved or to make change you must understand how your union operates.  Every union has bylaws, including the process for meetings, elections, contract votes and selection of shop stewards.  Never stop learning.

     Congratulations to top apprentices Josh Berger- Inside Wireman, Andrew Butts- Residential Wireman, and Michael King- Electronics Technician. Also, congratulations to “2017 Outstanding Apprentice”, Zachary Helms- Electronics Technician.

    June is here and summer is just a stone’s throw away.  As the hot weather comes on, be sure to stay hydrated.  Drink plenty of water and stay away from energy drinks as they do not hydrate you.  We are all our “Brother’s Keeper.”  Please make sure that we are keeping our Brothers and Sisters safe.  This starts with following the safety rules that are in place.  If you see something that is unsafe or you think may be unsafe, speak up and let someone know.  Remember, if you don’t speak up, you are just as responsible if something goes wrong.  If you are the Foreman on a crew, you are the one responsible for the safety and well-being of every member of your crew.

   As Brothers and Sisters of Local #34 you have rights and if you feel the need to exercise those rights (first, read and know you contract), go to your shop steward and make them aware of your issue.  If it cannot be resolved, contact any of our Business Representatives and we will assist you accordingly. Something you do not understand in the contract? Ask your steward, ask your Brothers and Sisters in the field, or ask you Union Representative.  We are in this together.  Everyone’s participation helps in making our workplace safer and better.  If your shop does not have a steward, let me know and we will work on getting one appointed.  Myself along with the rest of the Business Representatives, are here to assist you.  Please live, work and buy Union. 

By Paul Flynn, Business Manager.


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