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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