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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

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