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The Relay - March 2019

April 25th, 2019

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.2, No.3 March 2019

Brother Caleb Long, Editor

"The most important word in the language of the working class is SOLIDARITY." Harry Bridges

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 to all my Brothers and Sisters in IBEW Local 175,

I hope this note finds you all well and prosperous. In the past I have written columns to address situations, issues, problems and things going on in our jurisdiction. Today, I am going in a different direction. Today I'm going to write about a couple of really great websites.

The IBEW is using to reach out to all electrical workers. The reason is simple. The Objects of the IBEW direct us to reach out and organize everyone working in the electrical industry. HourPower shows many different facets of our industry. We're not just construction workers, Inside or Outside. We have literally thousands of classifications of workers within the ranks of the IBEW.

Another site that I'm referencing today is Here you will find stories about industry happenings, training, new programs and a host of other great information.

For the Sportsmen out there, check out Union Sportsmen Alliance at They offer great benefits and many giveaways to Union members. This site covers hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities for Union members and their families. They also sell calendars that give you 2 chances a week to win a gun.

I urge you to check out the sites listed here today to broaden your knowledge of your Union.

I ask you to keep one another on your toes by checking tickets. Be sure to check your own ticket first...

In the electrical industry, we ARE our Brothers' (and Sisters') keeper. Regardless of your station in the industry, the most important thing we do every day is return home, safe and sound. Please, rise above the politics of your workplace and be a leader for the IBEW. When we perform our best work, we are unmatched in quality and quantity. We must perform our best work every day to remain at the top of our game.

Thank you, each of you, for everything you do to make this IBEW the great family that it is.

Sincerely and fraternally,

Gary M. Watkins

Bussiness Manager/Financial Secretary, IBEW Local 175

Local 175 Unit Profile: Resolute Forest Products-Calhoun, TN

Resolute Forest Products-Calhoun, TN is one of  IBEW Local 175's longest standing business units. Formerly known as Bowater, the manufacturing facility produces specialty paper products, bathroom tissue, wood products, market-grade pulp and newsprint. As Resolute-Calhoun has grown and transitioned itself within the paper industry, IBEW Local 175 members have enjoyed many years of construction, outage and direct hire employment opportunities at the plant.

The 420 employee Bargaining Unit is represented by both the United Steelworkers (USW) and IBEW. IBEW Local 175 currently maintains 100% representation of the 40 Electrical & Instrumentation Techs within Resolute's maintenance Department.

In late March, the Resolute Council entered into contract negotiations for all unionized North American facilities. The bargaining sessions were held in Atlanta, GA with Resolute representatives coming from Montreal, Canada and Council members coming from the various Resolute mills in the Southern United States. 

IBEW Local 175 Unit Chairman Brian French, Unit Vice Chairman Bobby Brooks and Local 175 Assistant Business Manager Caleb Long represented Local 175 during these negotiations. Both sides were able to finalize a long term agreement that will provide stability for Resolute within international paper, pulp and tissue markets while also providing the bargaining unit with yearly 2.5% pay increases and protected benefits.

Posted by IBEW Admin | Topic: 2019  | Category: Newsletter

The Relay - February 2019

March 20th, 2019

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.2, No.2 February 2019

Brother Caleb Long, Editor

The parties to the labor contract must be nearly equal in strength if justice is to be worked out, and this means that the workers must be organized. Louis D. Brandeis

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


Letter From IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

Spring is on the horizon, we still have some cold and rainy days, but sunshine and warmer days are just around the corner. Even though the weather changes, our commitment to safety and excellent craftsmanship is unwavering. I want to thank all our members and travelers for the good job you do and for doing it safely. Every day we put our boots on and go to work in order to make the lives of our families better. Also, by keeping your dues paid current you are showing you care about them. The benefits that you receive by being a member in good standing is also a benefit for your loved ones. As a reminder, if you have a change in your phone number, address or beneficiary please let the ladies in the front office know. They can update your file and let the international's beneficiary office know so records will be current. 

I am pleased and proud of the increased attendance at our regular union meetings. Please help get the word out to come on the 1st and 3rd Monday at 7:00 PM. The business of this Local is conducted at these meetings. Be a part of conducting OUR business.

Our organizing department is doing a great job, We have aquired some excellent electricians from the non-union sector. We are proud to have these brothers and sisters that have made the right choice to go UNION. Let's never forget we are all organizers. 

In closing, I would like to encourage evrery member to get involved with some aspect of this Local. Always do the right thing by knowing together we stand, devided we fall. There is strength in numbers. As always, thank you for what you do and may God Bless each of you and yours.

With best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

President, IBEW Local 175

Brother Jim White Retires

"Jim was always organized and handled his business as a professional. He held the respect of the room during Labor/Management meetings. Jim began giving me access to voicemails as he neared his retirement date and as I was taking his job responsibilities. There were many voicemails wishing him off to retirement and ones that just called because of the type of person Jim is. That says something." Grant Rains, IBEW Local 175 Assistant Business Manager

Brother Jim White has taken his 46 year career into retirement. Brother White retires having served Local 175 as a Journeyman Lineman and Assistant Business Manager.

Brother White, Local 175 thanks you for your service to this Local. Enjoy retirement. 

RENEW Brings Challenge to Chattanooga JATC

One of the best ways to communicate a message is to do it to someone with a full belly. That's why members of Local 175's RENEW Committee recently visited the Chattanooga JATC and grilled hamburgers with several apprentices. 

During the Q & A session, a simple communication was put in front of the group: KNOW YOU HAVE THE POWER TO EFFECT CHANGE IN YOUR LOCAL. The conversations focused on making sure apprentices and young workers have the knowledge of using this ability through just showing up, by direct action like community service or by assuming leadership roles in RENEW.

It's frankly a time for the next generation to start taking what soon will be completely theirs. To join RENEW contact Matt McCoy.

Local 175 Unit Profile: Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative

Local 175 was established as MTEMC's Bargaining Unit Representative in 1953. The bargaining unit was initially  established as Journeyman Lineman, Apprentice Lineman, Groundmen and Operators.  After a recent organizing win, IBEW Local 175 has now added System Control Operators as card-carrying union members.

According to Assistant Business Manager Matt McCoy,  "The relationship with Middle Tennessee's management has always been a good one." It's often the case in organizing that employees seek union representation when management promises fail to follow through. System Control Operators began to see the value of Local 175 representation in existing Unit business. 

For the first time in IBEW's 10th District, the management of an employer recognized the Voluntary Card Signs of the MTEMC System Control Operators. This was a big win for the Bargaining Unit and for IBEW Local 175.

 Congratulations to the new IBEW Local 175 members at Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative. For organizing information in Outside Construction or Co-Ops, contact Matt McCoy or Grant Raines.

Chattanooga JATC Announces JW Continuing Education

The Chattanooga JATC is currently offering Continuing Education to the first 100 Journeyman Wireman that register. Call the JATC at 423.894.9053 to reserve your spot.

Posted by IBEW Admin | Topic: 2019  | Category: Newsletter

The Relay - January 2019

January 29th, 2019

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.2, No.1 January 2019

Brother Caleb Long, Editor

"There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other." 

Abraham Lincoln

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

All "A" members in Local 175

RE: Union membership dues


I know this isn't a popular subject. But it should be. Union dues benefit you and your family. They do not pay the wages, power bills, etc. at Local 175. $38.00 of the $40.00 per month that you pay goes to the International Office to provide a life insurance policy for your family in the amount of $6250 for natural causes, and $12,500 for accidental death. It also provides a pension that is currently $4.50/month for each year of service for simply keeping your dues paid. $2.00/month stays here at IBEW Local 175. Of that amount, $.50 goes into a Welfare Benefit Fund established as an emergency plan in the amount of $150/week for a lifetime maximum of 14 weeks.

Aside from the benefits above, being an active member of IBEW Local 175 provides an accidental death benefit of $4000. The only qualification for this policy is keeping your dues current. Over the years, IBEW Local 175 has sent thousands of reminders to members that their dues are delinquent and they are are about to lose these benefits. We have recently started sending text messages to remind them of their delinquency.

We have reached a point where something must change. According to the IBEW Constitution and Local 175 By-laws, the Local Union is not obligated to send a notice or notify a member of their loss of benefits or delinquency in dues. According to the IBEW Constitution-Article XVII, Section 1, "Local Unions shall collect dues from members either monthly or quarterly in advance."

IBEW Local 175 provides the very structure for a safe workplace, negotiated wages, health insurance, life insurance, pensions and additional benefits each member enjoys. We who enjoy the benefits of an IBEW contract, must learn to value their membership and to keep their dues current.

Regretfully, I've seen MANY families lose the "breadwinner" of the family. They feel betrayed by the Local Union because there is no life insurance payment. This is because the person in whom they depended chose not to pay their dues.

I'm at a loss why this happens so frequently, and I'm on a mission to see that it is resolved ASAP.

With an "A" membership of 1600+ members, imagine 10% per month, every month, being on the delinquent roll. We've spent thousands of dollars annually printing, folding, stuffing, sending notices, reminding members to pay their dues and protect their families.

For many years, asking someone to see their ticket was commonplace. It appears that we've moved beyond that. It's time we took a step back to a process that works. I'm asking EVERY "A" MEMBER to begin inspecting the tickets of their Brothers and Sisters. In many cases you'll find that their dues aren't paid. They are no longer members, just workers reaping the benefits that we work and pay for. Please don't stop work and "bump tickets". Before or after work, at break, at lunch-these are the times when we check tickets. You see, when it comes down to it, we're ALL Stewards of our work and our Union. If you have questions about your membership or your Local Union, call our office: 423.894.3557.

The leadership of Local 175 works to keep your Union strong. If you're working against us, STOP. If you're working for non-union companies, STOP. If you're selling your skills cheap because you don't want to travel, STOP. You are driving down your own Union wages and benefits by working against the IBEW. We have calls at home to be filled. Locals all around us need help. 

If you're not keeping your dues paid current, START IMMEDIATELY. Uphold the oath you took when you became an IBEW member.

Keeping your membership dues current is necessary if you are traveling for work. Locals require a current dues receipt in hand when you get a referral. Again, I remind you that the benefits of keeping dues paid current, benefits you and your family, not the Local Union treasury.

If the Local Union Agents weren't handling this kind of stuff, we could be more successful at helping our members remain home. This is YOUR Local Union and YOUR career that we're discussing. Please get engaged and involved in it. IBEW Local 175 will be led into the future by someone, and that someone should be YOU.

So, I've opened my heart to you. If this letter makes you mad, sad, glad, or in any way moves you to action - it has been a success. If you think this doesn't affect you, you're'll either be effective as a result of helping, or affected as a result of not helping.

I end this letter with a reminder of your Oath of Obligation to the IBEW:

"I, (your name), in the presence of the members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, promise and agree to conform to and abide by the Constitution and laws of the I.B.E.W. and its local unions. I will further the purposes for which the I.B.E.W. is instituted. I will bear true allegiance to it and will not sacrifice its interests in any manner."

Fraternally and sincerely,

Gary M. Watkins

Business Manager/Financial Secretary

IBEW Local 175

Letter from IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

I hope this letter finds everyone and their families in good health and doing well as we begin the 2019 New Year.

I would like to start by thanking each of our members, as well as, our traveling brothers and sisters for their continued commitment to safety and diligent work on the various projects throughout our jurisdiction.

While we have accomplished a lot, we still have a bright outlook going forward with many new projects and contractors.

One of the main reasons we work construction and belong to the Union is to provide a better living for our families. That said, keeping your dues paid through the current month is a large part of that provision. It ensures they will be provided for in the untimely death of the family's breadwinner. To put it plainly, you have a life insurance policy, as well as, a small pension as part of your monthly dues. If dues aren't current neither will be paid to your beneficiary. It is your responsibility just as your family depends on you in taking care of them. 

Also, for those still on the book, resign week is always each month between the 10th and 16th. The members of any organization are its strength and often untapped resources until they get involved.

Our regular Local Union meetings are the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month at 7:00 PM. Please make it a part of your normal schedule to attend.

Our RENEW Committee is growing and is a good way for those under 35 years old to be involved.

We are looking forward for you to have a safe and prosperous year. We will have many events coming up this year that will be good for you to be active in your Local Union.

In closing, I would like to personally thank everyone from our staff here at Local 175, the directors and instructors at the apprenticeship school, our journeyman wireman and lineman and apprentices for working together helping to make Local 175 the best Local in the 10th District as well as this great country of ours.

Thank you and may God bless each of you and yours.

In solidarity and with best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin


IBEW Local 175

Chattanooga, TN

2018: The Year in Pictures

Brother Toby Smith Retires

"When Toby went into negotiations or a meeting you knew his head and heart were 100% focused on IBEW Local 175."--Ken Livingston, D & Z Labor Management

Brother Milton "Toby" Smith has taken his 38 year career into retirement. Brother Smith served the Local and its members with dedication as a journeyman wireman, steward, Examining Board member, Executive Board member, Dispatcher, and Assistant Business Manager. 

Brother Smith, IBEW Local 175 thanks you for your service and we hope the fish are biting.

Local 175 Unit Profile: Cooperative Response Center, Inc. (Dunlap, TN)

In 2009, IBEW Local 175 organized Cooperative Response Center, Inc. The Dunlap, TN call center is a part of Local 175's Professional & Industrial sector. CRC serves electric co-ops from across the country by dispatching line crews during power outages and processing customer bill payments over the phone. 

During 2018, the 80 person bargaining unit, comprised mostly of women, has grown its membership from 9 to 30 members. Cooperative Response Center, Inc. and Local 175 will enter contract negotiations in January of 2019. Wish them luck.

Cooperative Response Center, Inc leadership:

Andy Norman (Unit Chairman), Heather Pleasanton (Vice Chairman), Ellen Ford (Recording Secretary), Kala Godsey (Steward), Ali Prater (Steward), and Kristyne Gibbs (Steward).

Preparing for Retirement?

Click the link below for the National Electrical Benefit Fund website.

Posted by IBEW Admin | Topic: 2019  | Category: Newsletter

The Relay - December 2017

February 1st, 2018

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No. 12 December 2017

There is no greater calling than to serve your Brother. And, no greater satisfaction than to have done it well. Walter Reuther

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.


The Relay - January 2017: Bonds of Brotherhood: IBEW LU 175 Strengthens the Brotherhood with The Inaugural Fall Ride

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. 

The beginning point of the poker run began at Crockett PowerSports-Chattanooga with stops at Big Daddy's Fireworks in Powell's Crossroads, Sequachee Valley Electrical Co-Op in South Pittsburg, and Charlie's Lounge in Soddy Daisy with the ride culminating back at the LU 175 Union Hall.

“In the initial planning stages, we wanted to reintroduces fellowship outside of work,” said Asst. Bus. Mgr. Matt McCoy, co-coordinator of the Fall Ride. “We tried to plan for all worst-case scenarios in order to provide a good ride, excluding one flat tire and one blown fuse we were able to have an awesome event.”

Riders and their families of the Fall Ride enjoyed the warmer afternoon with a catered BBQ lunch, a coronation of the poker run winner, and tables of door prizes. IBEW LU 175 partnered with multiple vendors such as Milwaukee Tools, IBEW LU 175 Credit Union, Thunder Creek Harley Davidson, InLine Electric Supply Company, Crockett PowerSports, ALTEC, and Costco which provided resources and prizes to show appreciation of the members that attended. 

IBEW LU 175 hopes that the success of this year's Fall Ride leads to a bigger event next year. Look for it again in 2017.

The Relay - February 2017: Bonds of Brotherhood: IBEW Local 175 RENEW Committee Begins its Monthly Meetings

The Local 175 RENEW Committee has started the new year off right. After sponsoring Local 175's Inaugural Fall Motorcycle Ride, the brothers and sisters of RENEW got back to business by holding its first strategy meeting of the year.   

According to RENEW's mission statement: "Greater involvement by local union members of all ages is critical to the growth of the IBEW. RENEW is an IBEW-wide initiative dedicated to creating opportunities for members ages 35 years and younger and helping them develop the skills necessary to become active in the local union and play a role in shaping its future."

During the meeting, Brother Matt McCoy and Brother Cody Walker presented an agenda associated to developing a leadership effort comprised of Local 175's younger workers. RENEW emphasizes a priority in strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and introducing the young workers to the history and values of Local 175's traditions. "The goals of this program are to educate the next generation of workers about the benefits of the IBEW, to provide a space for younger members to discuss issues relevant to their workplace and community, and to encourage their participation in programs that are focused on strengthening the local union and the labor movement."

IBEW Local 175's RENEW Committee encourages participation from all members who want to strengthen our Local. RENEW meetings are held on the 1st Monday of every month at 6:00 PM. Contact Matt McCoy for ways to get involved. 

Above photo (L-R): Brothers Tim Wright, Matt McCoy, Daniel Whiteside, Zack Ballard, Logan Haynes, Dennis Curry, Cody Walker, Zac Painter, Mchael Dixon, Ernest Pieve, Dave Roberts, and Ronnie Casey. Not pictured: Eli Watkins, Michael Lyons, Jeremy McClain, and Daniel Buckmaster.

The Relay - March 2017: 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:

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

The Relay - May 2017: 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 Spring Ride: Off Road Edition Featured on

The Relay - August 2017: IBEW Local 175 Organizes North Alababa Electric Cooperative and Culbert Electric

IBEW Local 175 is pleased to announce that North Alabama Electric Cooperative and Culbert Electric are now signatory to IBEW Local 175. The effort to gain market share and to grow the union employer/contractor base is a tremendous task. The IBEW Constitution mandates that one of our key OBJECTS shall be: 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. Simply put, our chief goal shall be to organize all who do electrical work.

North Alabama Electric Cooperative

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! In the late 1990s, Local 175 had an unsuccessful organizing campaign at North Alabama Electric Cooperative. The typical forces were in place against union organizing and Local 175 came up short. Local 175 can now enjoy a fresh win and considers this a huge organizing achievement. 

Assistant Business Manager Jim White began the conversation with North Alabama Electric Cooperative on August 8, 2016. The employees at NAEC had lost a pay benefit and that's essentially what renewed the conversation with Local 175. Brother White had two difficult objectives to complete and ultimately achieve. The first goal was to organize the membership and to gain recognition for IBEW Local 175 as the bargaining representative. The second, was to negotiate the first contract with North Alabama Electric Cooperative on behalf of Local 175 newest members. Brother White achieved both. On August 24, 2017 the contract was ratified. 

NAEC services 8 geographical districts including Bridgeport, Stevenson, Hollywood, Scottsboro, Woodville, Paint Rock, Grant, and Guntersville. NAEC employee classifications include Line Foreman & Service Foreman, Journeyman Lineman, Apprentice Lineman, Construction Equipment Operators, Warehouse employees, Right-Of-Way Foreman, Treeman/Right-Of-Way employees, Right-Of-Way Equipment Operators, Meter Techs, Engineer-Substation Techs, and Dispatchers. The bargaining unit has 26 employees that now include 22 new IBEW Local 175 members. Congratulations to the newest members of Local 175. 

Culbert Electric

IBEW Local 175 Business/Membership Development/Organizer Mike Grant was able to fulfill the never-ending Object to "organize all" when Jeff Culbert came to Local 175 to sign his letter of assent. Local 175 first made contact with Culbert Electric in early February. Culbert Electric has been successful in the residential, commercial, and industrial bid market in Chattanooga as well as in Georgia and Alabama. "The Locals that are the most successful in organizing are the ones who have their membership engaged in the field, actively organizing, and supplying job information to Local leadership. The process was a team effort between Local 175, Chattanooga JATC, and many individual Local 175 members. Culbert Electric is going to be a great addition to our contractor base and will be an asset in securing work for our members," said Grant.

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger Talks to Apprentices from the Chattanooga JATC

What does it take to be successful? What does it take to persevere against all odds? What allows individuals and organizations to achieve great things? Local 175 apprentices and Coach Heath Eslinger had that discussion.

Prior to our most recent Union meeeting, Coach Eslinger brought the same fire and intensity to a group of 80 apprentices and Local 175 membership that he brings to the UTC Wrestling program. Coach explained the hard work and effort that it takes to get through a five year apprenticeship is almost exactly the same as the requirements needed to be successful in the wrestling room. Coach Eslinger spent a hour and a half exchanging with the group on the importance of self discipline, on how setting boundaries for oneself can be liberating, and how commitment to achieving a set goal is vital to being a member of an organization. If we build a better apprentice; we also build a strong Union. This bond will make all of local 175 stronger.

Pictured: (Left to Right) Business Manager Gary Watkins, Local 175 5th Year Apprentice Tyler Lawson, UTC Head Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger, and President Winfred Gearrin

The Relay - October 2017: IBEW Fall Festival and Motorcycle Ride

Local 175's Fall Festival & Motorcycle Ride was a huge success! 

On October 7th, we celebrated the 2nd Annual Local 175 Motorcycle Ride. Thirty-eight IBEW Local 175 members started the event with a four-hour motorcycle trip through some of the most scenic parts of our jurisdiction. The Ride included stops at Nickajack Cave, Cloudland Canyon, and the Chickamauga Battlefield. Local 175 members were also fortunate to have shared the road with members from Local 760 and Local 429.

In addition to the ride, Local 175 added a family and friends aspect to the celebration. Over 200 joined in on the brotherhood and fellowship as the bikes arrived back to the Hall. The kids enjoyed all kinds of fun activities such the Chattanooga Fire and Police Department's "Touch a Truck", inflatable jump slides, and face painting. Local 175 was also very happy to have a catered lunch for all who attended. 

Thank you to all the sponsors and volunteers who made this event a success. See you next year!

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

The Relay - November 2017

December 11th, 2017

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No.11 November 2017

"It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labor unions." 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 175 Business Manager Gary Watkins

Greetings to all IBEW Sisters and Brothers,

As the old joke goes, "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana." Wow, where did 2017 go? It seems like yesterday we were looking for a break from the heat and now winter is just days away. So what did we accomplish in November?

  • We managed to get Construction Stewards, Professional & Industrial Stewards and Officers, and TVA Stewards trained to provide a better, safer, and all around more positive workplace
  • We managed to make connections with members that we didnt have connections with
  • We managed to raise awareness of Brothers and Sisters in need, to those who can help
  • We managed to fill each job call that has come in during November
  • We managed to find multiple reasons to be Thankful: Life, Family, Friends, Health, and Careers

Need I go on? I think we've had a pretty successful month.

As we move thru December, many hearts soften and we tend to help our fellow man a bit more. It is my hope that being part of the IBEW will cause each of us to see a different side of the coin every day of the year, not just at Christmas.

The IBEW Constitution begins by declaring that "Our cause is the cause of human justice, human rights, human security." When people question, "Why join the Union", you should be able to tell them immediately some of the most basic reasons.

  1. Right of representation on the job
  2. Safe workplace
  3. Benefits won by Unions: Life and Health Insurance, pensions, working conditions, etc. 

Stop and think about the things that we often take for granted about having a Union job. Whether you work in construction or manufacturing, maintenance, at utilities, in power production or transmission, voice/data/videos, or tree trimming the benefits that we enjoy were fought for by many who came before us. We must carry on the banner and spread the good word.

Our work continues moving forward in the Units of Local 175. Following the training sessions last month, we are putting our best foot forward and attending the newly established monthly meetings. PLEASE, PLEASE, if you are in a Unit that has begun meeting, PLEASE support this effort. Only YOU can make your Union strong and only YOU can keep it strong by taking care of its business. Union meetings should be a great opportunity for Sisters and Brothers to discuss items that are going on in the workplace. We also get to know each other better outside the workplace. Families grow closer and Unions grow strong. Please know that IBEW Local 175 is not MY Local: It is OUR Local. Whatever it says or does is what we say or do collectively. Let's tell our stories about how we support our communities in times of disaster, storms, good times and bad, at ball games, and in many other great ways. I look forward to seeing you soon.


Gary Watkins

Letter From IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

As always, I hope this writing finds everyone in good health and doing well. Thanksgiving is behind us and we certainly have had a lot to be thankful for as we look toward the upcoming Christmas Holiday. The regular Union Meetings this month will be Dec. 4th and Dec. 18th. On the 4th, the meeting will start at 7:00 PM. We will be swearing in 70 first year apprentices. Our annual "eating meeting" will be the 18th at 6:30 PM. There will be plenty of door prizes, food, and fellowship. The Local 175/NECA Christmas Holiday will be observed on Monday, Dec. 25th and Tuesday, Dec. 26th.

If you aren't already involved and/or active with the Local in some way, this would be a good time to get engaged with several areas to serve and give back to the labor community. Coats for Kids and Toys for Tots are things anyone can help with.

The holidays keep us very busy. Don't let your guard down when it comes to safety. Always be mindful of you surroundings and provide your children, family, home, working environment the protection they need when out shopping or traveling.

Don't forget to keep your dues paid up and current in order to remain a member in good standing. Please remember re-sign week is always between the 10th and 16th of each month. We have a lot of brothers and sister on the road so remind each other to re-sign. It is always good to hear from our brothers and sisters on the road. Local 175 needs this "first-hand" report of this country's work picture, the best practices out there, and some of the obstacles our members encounter so we can make improvements to our Local. I look forward to having our local men and women back home. 

Change is the Law of Life. As we reflect on some of the events of this past year, it is very important that we keep our eyes fixed to the future of Local 175.

To all of our outside, utility, co-op, and all units of IBEW Local 175, the staff wishes all of the Members a happy, blessed, and merry Christmas.

May God bless each of you.

With the best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

IBEW Local 175 Conducts Steward Training for TVA Annual Employees, Professional & Industrial, and Inside Construction Units 

This November, Local 175 began a week-long effort to provide training to Local 175's union stewards.  The goal of the training is to better equip Stewards and those who may one day be a Steward with the tools necessary to handle business in an effective and professional manner. The training, provided by IBEW International staff members, focused on grievance procedures, workplace rights, handling different and various personality types, and growing problem solving skills.

Local 175 will be offering additional training classes during December and into 2018.

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