job information
member login

The Relay - July 2017

August 7th, 2017

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No.7 July 2017

"The problem with unions today is there aren't enough of them." Martin Johns

Welcome to THE RELAY. Many years ago, the leadership of IBEW LU 175 published THE RELAY in an effort to strengthen the communication of information to LU 175's membership. The copy was in paper form, mailed via the United States Postal Service, and read in the hands of our Brothers and Sisters that built this Local into one of the finest in North America. The newest version of THE RELAY will now carry on that proud tradition to all generations of LU 175 membership via a 21st century internet.

Letter From IBEW Local 175 Business Manager Gary Watkins

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

It's good to be able to end July on a GREAT note. Sister Marilyn Graham received a donor liver over the weekend. She has suffered much for the past few years and has finally reached the top of the donor list. We are grateful that others during their time of loss display the gracious gift of life by being an Organ Donor. Marilyn has just begun a new chapter in her life. I know she is grateful. You can follow her progress via facebook or her GoFundme account. Please keep her in your hearts and prayers.

With that kind of great news, I'm going to move ahead and say that Assistant Business Manager Jim White and 10th District International Representative Jim Springfield have brokered a tentative agreement with North Alabama Electrical Cooperative. Both parties have displayed their commitment to excellence and professionalism throughout this process. We believe this partnership will be a long-lasting, profitable venture for everyone involved.

In this issue, I would like to take a minute to inform or remind everyone of our "Obituaries" link. We try to remain current with this page, although sometimes we aren't informed of a death until after the funeral.

For those who visit the webpage regularly, we are attempting to make this a more user-friendly environment. We maintain the Jobs Board on a daily basis and the other pages on an "as necessary" basis. Currently we are using FaceBook alongside as a means to share information. We are trying to increase the reach of our TEXT system to use for important announcements. If you are not subscribed, please sign up by texting IBEW175 to 31996

As many of you know, our work is somewhat slow. We are grateful to our Sister Locals for providing work for many of our members.

Whenever Local 175 members travel into another jurisdiction, please, always remember that you are a guest there. Our members should always abide by their rules, display the Code of Excellence in everything, and practice jurisdictional courtesy. If you aren't familiar with that phrase, please feel free to contact me at the local office.

Working in the construction field brings many dangers. Working outside during July and August increases those dangers significantly. Keep an eye on those working around you for signs of overheating. You may save lives by simply being observant. We must watch out for each other.

While there are very few calls coming in currently, we anticipate work returning in the not too distant future. As you are all well aware, there are several projects on the table that are waiting for someone to say GO! We look forward to the day when all of our brothers and sisters have full employment at home, whenever that may be. Until that time, we remain grateful for those who help keep IBEW members on the job.

When we discuss keeping IBEW members working, we are directly speaking in the construction industry of IBEW signatory contractors. There are many contractors in the world who only know the "Take" part of "Give and Take". The IBEW and our NECA contractor partners practice both parts of that equation.

I wrap this letter with a request to all our members. If you know or are working with someone who is not a member, but is enjoying the benefits of IBEW 175's work, pension, insurance, etc., begin to follow the example of those who went before us. Talk to them about IBEW. ORGANIZE. You don't have to be confrontational, just ask if they understand the benefits of being a member of the best UNION in the world. If you know someone who is a non-union worker, review the IBEW Objects given to us by our Founding Fathers:


The object of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are:

  • To organize all workers in the entire electrical industry in the United States and Canada, including all those in public utilities and electrical manufacturing, into local unions
  • To promote reasonable methods of work
  • To cultivate feelings of friendship among those in our industry
  • To settle all disputes between employers and employees by arbitration (if possible)
  • To assist each other in sickness or distress
  • To secure employment
  • To reduce the hours of daily labor
  • To secure adequate pay for our work
  • To seek a higher and higher standard of living
  • To seek security for the individual
  • And by legal and proper means to elevate the moral, intellectual, and social conditions of our members, their families and dependents, in the interest of a higher standard of citizenship.

Then decide how to begin the conversation. If we don't organize our competition, it will be our fault when our competition organizes against us. We were all organized into the IBEW and we are all organizers.

Remember: Doing the right thing may not always be easy, but it is still always the right thing.

"From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward." Proverbs 12:14 (NIV)


Gary Watkins

Letter From IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

The members of any organization are the core of its strength. I am proud of our members in every aspect. Work goes in cycles within the construction and skilled craft trades. While it is slow here, it is busy in a lot of other places. We are again looking forward to the time of prosperity when our people are home and travelers are coming here for the opportunity to make a good living.

Summer is in full swing, I want to remind everyone to remain safe traveling for vacation and while working on the road.

Local 175's union meetings are on the first and third Mondays this month which fall on the 7th and 21st. Don't forget to keep your dues paid current and remember resign week is the 10th through the 16th. We look forward to seeing you at the local union meetings. 

In closing, John F. Kennedy once said, "let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

With best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

The Second Annual Fall Ride 

IBEW Local 175 is excited to announce that the Second Annual Fall Motorcycle Ride has been scheduled. This year there is a new twist! Many of our membership have been asking to include a "family aspect" to some of the brotherhood events that we've recently enjoyed. On October 7th, IBEW Local 175 will introduce the 2017 Fall Festival

This past October, IBEW LU 175 held an Inaugural Fall Motorcycle Ride. Over forty LU 175 brothers and sisters braved the cool fall morning to share in the bonds of brotherhood during the 4 hour ride. This year, the Fall Festival will combine the motorcycle poker run with IBEW Local 175 Credit Union's car show and inflatable park for the kids. The 2017 Fall Festival will have the brotherhood motorcycle ride, great food, fellowship,  and the opportunity to involve kids and loved ones in the union brotherhood experience.

Click the 2017 Fall Festival link to register. Join us for the Brotherhood.

IBEW Local 175 joins the Kiwanis to Build the Howard Academy ROTC Fitness Trail

IBEW Local 175 volunteers have again shown our community the strength and value of the IBEW. The Chattanooga Kiwanis, having recently witnessed Local 175's volunteer strength at the Tyner Playground Build, asked Local 175 to take an active role in helping the Howard Academy ROTC Fitness Trail become a reality. 

Local 175 volunteers gave their valuable personal time on July 22nd, 29th, and August 5th to man the demanding work scope. Ironworkers Local 704 joined the 25 Local 175 volunteers on these hot summer days to clear brush, put down mulch, move dirt, and install drainage lines.

On August 5th a ribbon cutting ceremony was held. Community leaders from Chattanooga City Council, Hamilton County Board of Education, Miller & Martin Law Firm, and the Lieutenant Governor listened as IBEW Local 175 was thanked as the main source of volunteer labor for the project. It was a proud moment and a great opportunity the Local 175 volunteers used to advertise the IBEW.

If anyone is interested in being a part of IBEW Local 175's volunteer committee, call the hall at 423.894.3557.  

Posted by IBEW Admin  | Category: Newsletter

The Relay - June 2017

July 7th, 2017

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No.6 June 2017

"Our economy is out of balance. Growing labor unions, rather than decimating them, is one way to bring a measure of economic stability to our nation." John Patrick

Welcome to THE RELAY. Many years ago, the leadership of IBEW LU 175 published THE RELAY in an effort to strengthen the communication of information to LU 175's membership. The copy was in paper form, mailed via the United States Postal Service, and read in the hands of our Brothers and Sisters that built this Local into one of the finest in North America. The newest version of THE RELAY will now carry on that proud tradition to all generations of LU 175 membership via a 21st century internet.

Letter from IBEW Local 175 Business Manager Gary Watkins

Greeting Brothers and Sisters,

Well, Summer has finally come to Local 175. We've enjoyed some unseasonably nice weather and we know that we're going to move into a heat wave at just any time. Speaking of heat wave, with Summer comes the added safety concerns for workers of overheating, sunstroke, dehydration, etc. Be aware of those around you who may suffer from any of these conditions.

June 2017 brought the Riverbend Festival to Chattanooga. We know many of you went and enjoyed the shows. This huge festival employs several Union members that you might not realize are our brothers and sisters. Folks like:

  • IBEW Local 175 - Triple E Electric 
  • International Brotherhood of Police Officers LU 673  
  • International Association of Fire Fighters Local 820
  • International Association of Stage and Theatrical Stagehands Employees Local 140

Our thanks go out to our MANY brothers and sisters who support union workers and our rights in the workplace.

I want to take a minute to clarify a couple of terms that I hear mentioned frequently. "Right-to-Work" and "Employment At Will". These are two distinct and separate items. When the Right-to-Work law was passed in Tennessee in 1949 there was an effort to limit the influence of unions. In the eyes of management, Unions had far too much say in the rights of workers. When the RTW law passed, it allowed workers to enjoy the benefits of a union-earned and negotiated contract without paying for them. This created a situation for Unions that is not practiced in the business world. Free representation.

There are no other organizations who are forced to represent you although you choose NOT to be a member. The Chamber of Commerce requires its affiliates or associates to pay dues or not enjoy the benefits of membership.  So it is with all other similar representative bodies. Working on a Union job and not being a member is the fastest way to lose wages, benefits, and strength gained in numbers.

Besides those items above, IBEW "A" membership provides benefits such as a pension for simply keeping your dues paid; and a couple of death benefits that will protect your family. There are many other benefits of membership. If you are someone who thinks that they are better off on their own, I challenge you to schedule a time to sit down and talk with one of Local 175's agents to discover the benefits that you are missing out on. I'm sure your spouse and family would agree that 2 separate death benefits would provide a degree of security in the event of your accidental or untimely death.

IBEW Local 175 also has a separate death benefit that any member can participate in. The cost to join is $5 with a $3 payment upon notification of the passing of a participant. When notified, each participant makes a $3 payment to IBEW Local 175 in the name of the deceased Brother or Sister. Upon notification from the IBEW International Secretary's Office, Local 175 sends a check in the amount of $2.75 multiplied by the current number of participants in the Death Benefit Fund.

So, I'll continue on the path of RIGHTS and BENEFITS for a little longer.

Two of the MOST IMPORTANT things we do for our families is:

  1. Keep dues paid current - more than 2 months delinquency WILL affect benefits.
  2. Make sure that you have the CORRECT BENEFICIARY on your health insurance, Southern Electrical Retirement Fund, IBEW Local 175/International Office and IBEW 175 Credit Union.

You may have other accounts that should be addressed as well. Following a divorce or death, changing the beneficiary is urgent. You must make it a priority. Make sure YOUR FAMILY is protected.

Now let's address "Employment At Will". In the State of Tennessee, if you are not working under a Collective Bargaining Agreement, you are an AT-WILL employee. What this means is that your employer can terminate your employment for any or no reason. You work"At the Will" of the employer. Period! That's the difference in Right-to-Work and Employment At Will.   I've included links to these two topics. Please check them out for yourself. 

The month of May brought the Inaugural Spring Ride: Off Road Edition to Local 175. We posted the video, produced by the International Office, later in this newsletter.

June brings planning sessions for a larger Fall Motorcycle Ride and a Family Day at 175 and the Chattanooga JATC. In 2016, we had over 40 riders in our Inaugural Fall Ride. We hope to see increased participation in both events going forward.

Also in June, negotiations continued with North Alabama Electric Cooperative. Special thanks again to IBEW 175 Assistant Business Manager Jim White, IBEW 10th District Representative Jim Springfield, and the Brothers at NAEC for their persistence on this 1st contract.

In late June, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and IBEW Local 175 successfully negotiated a new 3 year contract. Special thanks to MLEC Unit Chair David Qualls, Mike Hickerson, Michael Bradley, Barry Wilson, Troy Walton, and Aaron Hinson. Thanks also goes to IBEW Local 175 Assistant Business Manager Matt McCoy who serves the MLEC Unit. We'd also like to thank MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan, VP of Operations Ed Greenwell, VP of Employee and Member Services Miranda McCaleb, and the rest of the MLEC negotiating team for their diligence in reaching a Win-Win outcome.

With June behind us, I wish you a safe and happy July 4th. Special thanks to those in uniform who work diligently to keep us safe and free, as well as, our civil servants who must respond to whatever may present itself. Our prayers go out for your safety, vision, and leadership.

May we all be blessed with the realization of just how blessed we truly are.


Gary Watkins

Letter from IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings to all our Brothers and Sisters,

I hope this letter finds everyone in good health and enjoying the beginning of Summer. As the months progress, take time to remember our veterans and service people while we celebrate the 4th of July. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. 

While we don't have any confirmation yet we still anticipate the work in our jurisdiction to pick up by the end of this year. If you are working on the road always be mindful of jurisdictional courtesy. You are representing Local 175 and keeping our reputation and standards high so that others will admire your work and do the same when they are working here. I thank you for what you are doing and encourage you to stay safe.

The recent loss of one of our brothers reminds us of the importance of keeping our union dues current. This brother was a member of Local 175's Death Benefit and because his dues were not current, his family/beneficiary was not able to receive his benefit when it was needed. Please keep your dues paid current. This should be priority. It not only helps your retirement, it gives your family a financial safety net should, God forbid, anything happen to you.

The members of an organization are what makes it strong. I am proud of the fact that we have over 3100 total members from all walks of life. There is strength in numbers. This is why it is important to attend the union meeting. Make plans to attend and be active. Get involved. Union meetings are the most basic way for your voice to be heard. UNITED WE STAND.

It is my wish that God bless and enrich each and every one of our Brothers and Sisters and the future of this Local Union.

With best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

IBEW Local 175 Spring Ride: Off Road Edition Featured On

Ralph White Electric & WELBRO Building Corporation Partner to Resurrect Chattanooga's "Gold Building" 

The "Gold Building" has been an undeniable fixture on the Chattanooga landscape for over 40 years.  The former BlueCross/BlueShield office complex's reflective exterior has not shined as bright in recent years as it has been unoccupied. The vacancy provided local investors, Ken and Byron Defoor, the perfect opportunity to revitalize the landmark and transform the structure into a new Westin Hotel and convention space.

When it comes to providing engineering and construction services to the hospitality industry few do it better than Ralph White Electric. Ralph White Electric, powered by IBEW Local 175 journeyman wireman and apprentices, was awarded this project and took on the heavy task to turn the structure back into one of Chattanooga's great landmarks. 

Randy White, Vice President/Project Manager and dues-paying member of Local 175, recently gave IBEW Local 175 a tour. "We brought over $1 million in cost saving for our customer by designing around some of the existing infrastructure. That value based engineering helped us get the job," said White. White also highlighted the Journeyman and Apprentices he has working for Ralph White Electric. He proudly highlighted that Ralph White Electric had several journeyman on the job that had worked several years for the company. "We have Apprentice of the Year Colin Cole working on this project. We have experienced journeyman like Mike Bowman with 32 years of service, Stanley "Flip" Hullander with 31 years, and Nick Phillips with 15 years." This IBEW/NECA partnership illustrates the value that we bring to the marketplace.

Once completed, The Westin will feature 228 guest rooms, a convention hall, business meeting rooms, and a top floor Sky Bar.

Local 175 Members on the job: Mike Bowman, Ronnie Raby, Gregg Tate, Nick Phillips, Avery Cooper, Mark McKaig, Colin Cole, Jason Layne, Stanley Hullander, Daniel White, and Rob Cofer.

IBEW Local 175 Member Featured in Field & Stream.

Find out what a lifetime of coon hunting means to Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative employee and IBEW Local 175 Brother Mike Hickerson...

Posted by IBEW Admin | Topic: 2017  | Category: Newsletter

The Relay - May 2017

June 5th, 2017

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No.5 May 2017

"The story of the labor movement needs to be taught in every school in the land... America is a living testimonial to what free men and women, organized in free democratic trade unions, can do to make a better life. We ought to be proud of it." Hubert Humphrey

Welcome to THE RELAY. Many years ago, the leadership of IBEW LU 175 published THE RELAY in an effort to strengthen the communication of information to LU 175's membership. The copy was in paper form, mailed via the United States Postal Service, and read in the hands of our Brothers and Sisters that built this Local into one of the finest in North America. The newest version of THE RELAY will now carry on that proud tradition to all generations of LU 175 membership via a 21st century internet.

Letter from IBEW Local 175 Business Manager Gary Watkins

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

Well, May has come and gone and we're on a fast track to Summer. During the early part of this year, work on the Inside has been somewhat slow. There are signs that work is beginning to pick up, namely, we're getting a few calls. Our Inside Construction Agreement was settled in early April with NECA and IBEW Local 175 agreeing to a 2.25% wage increase for each of the next three years beginning June 1, 2017. We also agreed to include enabling language to allow Local 175 members to participate in the National Electrical Benefit Fund 401(K) plan. Information about this program is available at

Thanks to our RENEW leaders, on Saturday May 6th, IBEW Local 175 had its inaugural Spring Ride: Off Road Edition. Participation was very good and the fellowship was great. The Media Department from the International Office went along on the ride and will be posting a video in the near future. Special thanks to Assistant Business Manager Matt McCoy and RENEW leaders Seth Brown and Zac Painter for their work and leadership in this event. We'd also like to thank our sister locals for their support thru participation as well! If you're interested in getting a RENEW Chapter established in your Local within the 10th District, contact Matt McCoy at He'll be happy to get you the information you need to get going.

We saw the contract at Thomas & Betts in Athens settled at the end of April. This contract was settled for a period of 5 years. This allows the Local Union and The Company an opportunity to work together in a stable relationship for a longer-than-usual period of time. We believe this will benefit the members as well as the employer. This particular location has found success in refining production methods and processes in companies purchased by Thomas & Betts.

As we moved to mid May( (5/13) the Inside JATC saw 65 apprentices complete their training. They enjoyed a graduation banquet on May 20th. Congratulations to our newest group of Journeyman!

Also on May 20th, IBEW Local 175 assisted in the installation of a KaBoom! playground at the Tyner Recreation Center. Thanks to the 22 Local 175 volunteers who showed up and showed out!

Local 175 is a diverse Local with Communications, Electrical Manufacturing, Inside Construction, Line Clearance/Tree Trimming, Maintenance, Outside Construction, and Utility Units.

We're headed into another season of storms and weather events that keep the folks in our Utility and Outside groups busy around the clock. We appreciate these Brothers and Sisters that keep the lights on. Often these groups are just waiting for the storm to let up so they can get to work. They're the safest and most productive in the industry.

Over the past few months, Henkels & McCoy has been installing a new 2 circuit, 15 KV line through Ellijay, GA. If i understood correctly, this line crossed the main highway 160 times in about 15 miles. This project is wrapping up as I write this article. Thanks to everyone who made this project a success!

In the maintenance world, Resolute Forest Products is now in the tissue business. The Electrical & Instrumentation maintenance department is not as large as it once was but it is a great group to have in our local. Unit Chairman Roy Parsons is making great strides keeping abreast of this newest expansion. We're blessed to have young leaders stepping up.

I've saved what I most enjoyed this month, besides the holiday, for last. On May 21st, we had our Retirees' Breakfast at Wally's Restaurant. There were 85 brothers in attendance. As you may have guessed, we all really  enjoyed the fellowship.

As I close it seems fitting to remember:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1

Safe. It's the only way to work.

Gary M. Watkins

Letter from IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings to all of our Brothers and Sisters,

In our industry, safety has to be our first priority. Our brothers and sisters, both on the road and at home, should be the example others look to and aspire to be like when it comes to safety and production. By doing this, we continue to set and maintain high standards established by our forefathers which drives Local 175's reputation in the community. We should strive to leave our job sites and/or positions better than we found them. It is with this perspective that I say, YES, we are our Brother's keeper. We are always looking out for each other and I thank you for your continued effort and support of the members of this local.

I also would like to recognize our RENEW Committee and members with appreciation. Their continued efforts in getting our younger brothers and sisters involved in the communities and events around the Chattanooga area is establishing Local 175 as a strong community partner.

Please remember to keep your dues paid up and current in order to remain in good standing with our local. Resign week is always between the 10th and 16th of each month. Local union meetings are the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month at 7:30 PM. Always attend union meetings when possible. Your voice is important for the future of our local.

With best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

Chattanooga JATC and IBEW Local 175 Congratulates New Journeymen Wireman

After years of hard work, 65 brothers and sisters can now call themselves Journeyman Wireman. The Chattanooga JATC presented its graduates to family, friends, elected officials, and business owners on May 20th at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center. The men and women of this program completed over 1000 hours of classroom training and 8000 hours of on-the-job training.

The application process for the Chattanooga JATC opens July 5th and will run thru the end of December.

Congratulations to Apprentice of the Year recipients Ben Foster, Jarrod Durham, and Colin Cole.

IBEW Local 175 Builds a Playground

When the community asks for help, IBEW Local 175 answers the call. 

On May 20th, IBEW Local 175 partnered with KaBoom! playground, Dr. Pepper, and City of Chattanooga to bring a new playground to the Tyner community. The Local 175 volunteers spent the day pushing shovels, mixing concrete, and running wheel barrels. Councilwoman Carol Berz opened the playground with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and seized the opportunity to thank IBEW Local 175 and Iron Workers Local 704 for their dedication to the project.

If you are interested in volunteering or want a community service project in your area, contact IBEW Union Hall at (423) 894.3557.

Special Thanks to the IBEW Local 175 Volunteers: Pieve family, Zac Painter, Ashton McMullan, Zach Ballard, Hunter McCaskill, Mike Grant, Mike Lyons, Dan Griffin, Eddie Long, Steven White, Brian Boaen, Matthew Gogolin, Michael Dick, Danny Painter, Winfred Gearrin, Kent Adams, Duane Evans, Caleb Long, Jenni Berz, and Rich Michael

IBEW Local 175 Hosts Retirees' Breakfast

On May 18th, Local 175 had the distinct honor and pleasure to host the IBEW Local 175 Retirees' Breakfast. The 85 brothers and sisters in attendance represent some of the finest craftsman and union representatives this country has to offer. The quarterly Breakfast is an excellent opportunity for retired members to fellowship and reminisce. 

Local 175 expresses great appreciation for those who were in attendance. Let it be known, Local 175 is the Local it is today because of the effort, dedication, solidarity, and craftsmanship of these great brothers and sisters. Thank you so very much.

The next Retirees' Breakfast will be in the Summer. We look forward to it.

Posted by IBEW Admin | Topic: 2017  | Category: Newsletter

The Relay - April 2017

April 10th, 2017

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No.4 April 2017

"Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice." Dwight D. Eisenhower

Welcome to THE RELAY. Many years ago, the leadership of IBEW LU 175 published THE RELAY in an effort to strengthen the communication of information to LU 175's membership. The copy was in paper form, mailed via the United States Postal Service, and read in the hands of our Brothers and Sisters that built this Local into one of the finest in North America. The newest version of THE RELAY will now carry on that proud tradition to all generations of LU 175 membership via a 21st century internet.

Letter From IBEW Local 175 Business Manager Gary Watkins

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

What a privilege it is to be able to address you each month. With each newsletter I am striving to show more of the breadth of IBEW Local 175 than most members normally see. March was a busy month and that busyness rolled right over into April. Jim White, Matt McCoy, President Winfred Gearrin, and I attended the IBEW National Construction Conference in Washington, D.C. March 30th thru April 1st. There was a lot of business discussed and, as always, workshops including training, legal issues, financial reporting, and several other topics.

The first full week of April found Local 175 hosting the first C.O.M.E.T. Train-the-Trainer class in quite some time. It was attended by Assistant Business Managers Danny Painter, Matt McCoy, Caleb Long, and Business/Member Development Director Mike Grant. There were participants for North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama. This was a great time for fellowship and bonding for our Brotherhood. Mind you, these aren't all the things going on, just a glimpse at some highlights. Watch for C.O.M.E.T. classes as they will be rolled out very soon.

Week Two allowed us to get back to many of the daily tasks that we had temporarily pushed aside.

Let me insert here the contract negotiations were ongoing at:

  1. Thomas and Betts manufacturing in Athens, TN (Settled 4.22.17)
  2. NECA - Inside Construction (Settled 4.7.17)
  3. CRC - Call Center (Settled 4.14.17)
  4. North Alabama Electrical CO-OP - New Unit (In Progress)

Please note: On the first Monday of each month at 6:00 PM we have an Inside Construction Stewards meeting and a RENEW Committee meeting prior to the Union meeting which begins at 7:30 PM.

We are also having Code of Excellence classes on the third Monday of each month from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. If you plan to attend one of these sessions please call our office (423.894.3557) and ask to be added to the class list. We plan to offer Code of Excellence classes at different times for those who are traveling. That schedule is pending at this time. Stayed tuned for more information.

I would like to extend special thanks this month to everyone involved with negotiations last month and this month. Your work keeps the framework together that makes our organization successful. THANK YOU!

As I end my April notes, I leave you this thought:

"He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster." Proverbs 18:9

Gary M. Watkins

Letter From IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

It is a good time to be a member of this great Local. We have recently experienced positive results with several contracts being negotiated and settled. A few of those include our inside agreement with the NECA contractors, a new utility unit at North Alabama Electrical Co-Op, the manufacturing unit at Thomas & Betts/ABB in Athens, TN, as well as several other utilities and Co-Ops. It is good to know all of your representatives are working hard and looking to the future for all the members of Local 175. With that, I am encouraging everyone to be involved with the Local in some way. You, the members, hold the key to our future.

Our meetings this month are on the 1st and 15th. Please make plans to attend. Also, remember to keep your dues paid current and inform the ladies in the front office of any changes in your phone number, address, or beneficiary. These are all in your best interest to keep current. When you come in or call, please remember to thank the ladies in the front office for all they do. A little kindness goes a long way. You can be the one to make someone's day.

In closing, John F. Kennedy one said, "In your hands lies the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit." It is the members' involvement that makes the future of our local better today than yesterday.

With best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

IBEW Local 175 Opens Training Opportunities

Business Manager Gary Watkins has opened a new series of training opportunities. Code of Excellence classes are now being offered on the third Monday of every month from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.

The classes are meant to reinforce the standard that is expected of all IBEW union members. NECA contractors are also presenting Code of Excellence to owners and general contractors as a way to sell IBEW services and grow market share. Additionally, our membership is informing Local 175 that some jurisdictions are requiring an up-to-date Code of Excellence class when taking a referral. Call IBEW Union Hall at (423)894.3557 to register for Code of Excellence training.

Special thanks to those members who attended the last COE class:

Kent Adams, Joe Bell, Jeff Bingham, Dennis Curry, Charles Campbell, Tim Wright, Jerry Marshall, Jameese Cox, John Thompson, Cary Fouts, James Springfield Jr., Jason Bethune, Greg Niles, Logan Haynes, Jeremy McClain, Zac Painter, James Mathews, Keith Ammons, John Griswold, and Jonathon Rogers.

IBEW Local 175 and Thomas & Betts Reach Contract Agreement

In early March, David Winters and the Union Negotiating Committee began strategy sessions for the upcoming April contract talks. Brother Winters, Chief Steward and Lead Negotiator at the Athens facility, had a goal to formulate a contract proposal that provided the best compensation and benefit package for the 252 employee bargaining unit while still enabling the manufacturer to maintain a strong market position. 

The Athens facility has overcome many hardships over the last year. Last September, a work place shooting resulted in the death of three employees. The Thomas & Betts Corporation also experienced a change in ownership when it was bought by ABB.  On top of these changes, growing competition from overseas manufacturers such as China, who produce goods and materials with significantly lower labor costs, have made competition for the American manufacturer a very narrow game. Brother Winters and Human Resource Manager Trony Brooks recognized the opportunity a new contract would bring to the security and the future of the plant. The question was how to arrive at an agreement.

The month of April brought both sides to the negotiating table. The Union Committee, assisted by Manufacturing Representative and IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin, proposed across the board wage increases, protections against higher health insurance premium increases, and language changes associated to disciplinary action and plant rules. The Company proposed value-based options to new health care plans, hourly rate increases associated to staying competitive in the marketplace, and introduction of new fringe benefits regarding life insurance and accident & sickness leave.

The Thomas & Betts/IBEW negotiation is a testament to the value of having a strong "partnership". A new contract was reached by keeping an eye on doing future business for years to come. The Athens bargaining unit enjoys very competitive wages in the Southeast and ranks as one of ABB's highest compensation packages. On April 20, the union membership ratified the five year contract with an 84% approval vote.

(Picture: Trony Brooks, Human Resources Manager (left) and David Winters, Chief IBEW Steward. )

Special thanks to those who negotiated on behalf of the IBEW Local 175:

IBEW Negotiating Committee: David Winters-Chief Steward, James McCowan-Unit Chairman, Tracy Johnson-Recording Secretary, Leon Poe, Mike Mull, Larry Hunt, and Jimmy Parkinson

Posted by IBEW Admin | Topic: 2017  | Category: Newsletter

The Relay - March 2017

March 1st, 2017

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No.3 March 2017

"If I went to work in a factory the first thing I'd do is join a union."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Welcome to THE RELAY. Many years ago, the leadership of IBEW LU 175 published THE RELAY in an effort to strengthen the communication of information to LU 175's membership. The copy was in paper form, mailed via the United States Postal Service, and read in the hands of our Brothers and Sisters that built this Local into one of the finest in North America. The newest version of THE RELAY will now carry on that proud tradition to all generations of LU 175 membership via a 21st century internet.

Letter from IBEW Local Union 175 Business Manager Gary Watkins

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

2017 is really picking up speed. It’s April already, but you know that, don’t you?!

We currently have contract negotiations going on in the NECA/Inside Construction branch, Thomas & Betts manufacturing, Cooperative Response Center P&I branch, and North Alabama Electric Cooperative with others soon to follow.

To begin April, Local 175 is hosting our first Construction Organizing Membership Education Training (COMET) class in several years. The first class is designed to Train-the-Trainers. Several Local 175 agents will begin this class. Agents from across the 10th District (Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee) as well as from the 5th District (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Panama Canal, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands will also participate. While I realize that everyone may not be totally on board with Organizing, we must remember that we all take the same oath and are at that time "organized" into the IBEW. It is our responsibility to share our code of conduct, means of communication, Brotherhood, and all aspects of being union members. Someone taught us, and now, it is time to pay those lessons forward.

As we move ahead I will attempt to make information that I think will be of interest available thru this column. There are groups and interests around us that align with many of our core beliefs.

One of the groups aligned with organized labor is Union Plus. They provide services specifically to union members and their families. We recently had their union agency representative, Dawn Collins, give a seminar to several members. You can get information concerning mortgages and other programs by clicking here

Local 175 partnered with Blood Assurance in early March to support them when they experienced a  dangerously low point in their supply. We plan to have another event with them in the Fall. Stay tuned.

The Inside Construction Stewards meeting is also held on the 1st Monday at 6:00 pm in the main conference room at the Local Union hall. For more information contact Toby Smith at

Our RENEW meetings will continue to be held on the 1st Monday of each month at 6:00 pm prior to the union meeting which starts at 7:30 pm. The meeting will be held in the Local Union auditorium unless otherwise noted.

The RENEW Committee is also sponsoring a  Spring Ride Off Road Edition on May 6, 2017. For more information contact Matt McCoy at

We look forward to nice (dry) weather so that we can begin having hot dogs and chili before meetings again. If you’re not coming to RENEW or Stewards meetings you’re missing great fellowship opportunities.

Our Local Union is only as strong as its weakest link. Don’t be that link. Get involved in events and activities that are sponsored. If you have ideas for events bring them to our attention. Let’s see if there’s enough interest to get a Local group started.

Like every other organization in the world, ours is run by the people who show up. You must first realize that you have a voice before you can use it. If you re not included in activities, don’t get your feelings hurt, get yourself in he loop.

The quickest way for any organization to die is to exclude the younger members. All of our industries are changing and we must be flexible in our knowledge if we are to survive and succeed. Youth in this organization will keep it strong and growing.

We’ve discussed several topics recently and Code of Excellence continues coming up in conversation. I will begin scheduling COE classes on the 3rd Monday of each month beginning April 17th. The class will begin at 5:30 pm in order to be completed before time for the regular union meeting. If you want to be included in the class, please call our office and have Quennia, Wendy, or Shelley put your name on the list. Please don’t wait until the last minute to register. This class is a worthwhile investment of your time. We believe it will help members understand many of the issues encountered when dealing with customers, their perception of our members, and work ethics. I hope you will all make an effort to attend the classes. The first few sessions will be directed at the Inside Construction workers. The International Office is currently updating the COE specific to Manufacturing, Maintenance, Outside and Utility groups. They will be offered as soon as they are available. Please watch this column for that information.

While this column may seem to jump around, I’m trying to capture the most relevant items to present to you. Thank you all for your support and for everything that you do each and every day to shine the best possible light on IBEW Local Union 175. After all, YOU are IBEW Local Union 175.

“In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6

In solidarity,  

Gary M. Watkins

Letter from IBEW Local Union 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings to all of our Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for being a part of one of the best locals in the entire International. We are truly blessed with good members and leaders.

I would like to encourage everyone to be active and get involved in any of the events going on in our local. You can begin by attending the meetings on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month. April's meetings will be on the 3rd and 17th. Please make plans to attend.

It is vitally important to maintain an up-to-date dues receipt. Staying current is a good union practice and it ensures you and your family are entitled to your benefits. Please remember to keep your dues paid current and inform the ladies in the front office of any changes to your phone number, address, or beneficiary.

Spring is here and the weather is warming up. We are anticipating an improving work forecast for our jurisdiction. On the positive side, we have sent several to Watts Bar for the Unit 1 outage with Sequoyah's outage to follow. We have several brothers and sisters working on the road in other jurisdictions across the country. We are really looking forward to work picking up here before the end of the year. 

It was once said, one person with courage is a majority. Going forward, stay safe and keep up the good work. As always, thank you and may God bless each of you and yours.

With best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

Bonds of Brotherhood: IBEW LU 175 Strengthens the Brotherhood with The Spring Ride: Off Road Edition

This past October, IBEW LU 175 held an Inaugural Fall Motorcycle Ride. Over forty LU 175 brothers and sisters braved the cool fall morning to share in the bonds of brotherhood during the 4 hour ride. This Spring, IBEW LU 175 is taking a different route. WE'RE GOING OFF ROAD! 

On May 6th, IBEW LU 175 will be hosting The Spring Ride: Off Road Edition. LU 175's RENEW Committee, our young worker initiative, has again stepped up to plan this brotherhood opportunity. The ride will begin at 12 PM EST on public trails at Austin Bend Farms in Dunlap, TN and should conclude that evening around 5 PM. The event will also have food and drinks when everyone arrives back from the trail.

Event coordinator and RENEW Chairman Matt McCoy, matt@ibew175.orgdescribes the off road trails as best suited for ATV, side-by-sides, and true off road vehicles and recommends registering online to reserve a T-shirt and help IBEW LU 175 get a head count for food. We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Reserve now @

Membership Profile: Chattanooga JATC and IBEW Local 175 Welding Program

The Chattanooga Joint Apprenticeship Training Center (JATC) has a well established track record of recruiting and developing Local 175's workforce. Students who pursue a traditional academic path often graduate from 4-year institutions with a mountain of college debt and few applicable skills. By comparison, the JATC and its graduates pride themselves on their distinct competitive advantage. The program, through the combined effort of IBEW 175, TVA, and the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), consists of  5 years of classroom theory and 8000 hours of on-the-job training which strategically position these graduates with the skills necessary to earn top pay. 

In a competitive job market, employers and training facilities must stay fluid when adapting their training curriculum. The JATC's new welding program, a 200 hours course taught by JATC Instructor Larry Ponder, is a prime example of being able to meet marketplace demand. JATC Executive Director Kenny Smith and representatives from TVA began conversations in an effort to ensure that an adequate supply of Local 175 electricians were trained to handle on-site welding.  In the program's first year, five Journeyman Wireman received their welding classification.

Local 175 Inside Journeyman Wireman/Welder Michael Dixon described the training as, "almost complete job security." Brother Dixon, a graduate of the JATC's 2016 inaugural welding class, is currently working at TVA's Sequoyah Nuclear Plant. "In the line of work we're in you have to make yourself hard to get rid of. With Brother Scottie Stone and myself on the job and welding certified, we were able to ensure that IBEW Local 175 electricians did our welding," explained Brother Dixon.

Thank you Chattanooga JATC and the new Journeyman Wireman/Welders that are gaining the skills to protect Local 175's work.

If interested in the Welding Class or any additional training the JATC has to offer click:

Posted by IBEW Admin | Topic: 2017  | Category: Newsletter