The Relay – April 2022

April 01, 2022

Vol.2, No.4 April 2022

All Wealth is the Product of Labor.

–John Locke

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.

For the Membership: A letter From Gary Watkins, Business Manager-IBEW Local Union 175

Gary Watkins, IBEW Local 175 Business Manager

Greetings IBEW Brothers and Sisters,

As I write this note, 10 IBEW Local 175 members are preparing to go the IBEW’s 40th International Convention in Chicago, IL. The Convention is typically held every five years in our current age. Early conventions were annual events, then bi-annual, followed by when the IBEW income would allow such an expenditure. In our time, the US Department of Labor requires an election of International Officers at least once every five years. The Convention was, scheduled following the IBEW Constitution, in September 2021. That didn’t work out. Our International President then had to get permission from the DOL to extend the term until the second week of May 2022. The IBEW Convention kicks off on Monday, May 9th.

You will be able to follow events at the Convention by going to I’m not sure if there will be streaming of events, but it will be worth your efforts to check out the daily updates. This is YOUR IBEW. Come along and see what’s going on with it.

On behalf of our ten delegates, I would like to thank you all for choosing us to represent IBEW Local 175. I look forward to sharing stories upon our return.

Until then, I am

Fraternally and sincerely,

Gary M. Watkins, Business Manager-IBEW Local 175, AFL-CIO

For the Membership: A Letter From Danny Painter, President-IBEW Local Union 175

Danny Painter, IBEW Local 175 President

Welcome Sisters and Brothers,

This year is moving along quick. Seems like yesterday it was the 1st of the year. 

It’s starting to begin voting season on several fronts, where some of our local communities have started early voting.

The Local 175 voting will start soon. Envelopes will start mailing out on May 12, 2022. When you receive yours please read all instructions and get them back in the mail ASAP. Ballots will be counted on June 6th. This will give us time to get you another one in case something goes wrong with the mail. All you need is to put a stamp on and mail it. The main thing we need your hep with is making sure we have your correct address before May 12th.

On Monday, June 6th our regularly scheduled meeting will start that morning before the ballots are counted. Any candidate or appointee as an observer can be here to watch the counting. These observers cannot interfere in the counting in any manner. Once the ballots are counted, we will close the meeting.

Everyone give Bret Lyness, our Election Judge and his tellers, a big thank you for making our election run smooth.


Danny Painter, President-IBEW Local 175, AFL-CIO

For the Membership: A Letter From Caleb Long, Dispatcher and Assistant Business Manager for Manufacturing and Professional & Industrial Maintenance-IBEW Local Union 175

Caleb Long, Dispatcher &Assistant Business Manager

Brothers and Sisters,

To whomever reads this, I hope you know you’re appreciated and I offer thanks to our members for the work you do. 

I have two things that are relevant for this month’s Relay.

  1. Dispatch and referrals will continue to increase in the coming months.
  2. IBEW/ABB-Athens union members have negotiated a new manufacturing contract

First: The work outlook continues to look strong for both NECA and TVA. Local 175 has dispatched 181 Journeyman Wiremen during 2022.  We believe this pace is only going to increase in the coming months. 

Second: IBEW Local 175 proudly represents members who manufacture products UNION MADE IN THE U.S.A. ABB-Athens, one of Local 175’s Professional & Industrial (P &I) manufacturing units, provides the construction industry with metal boxes, strut, extrusion products, and pre-fab wiring harnesses. IBEW Local 175 has represented the 243 employee bargaining unit for over seventy years.

The IBEW Local 175 Membership Negotiating Committee concluded contract  negotiations in April and ratified the wealthiest union contract to ever come to Athens. A year-long preparation at unit meeting, labor management meetings, and surveys sent to IBEW/ABB members returned four negotiating directives: a percentage-pay increase to benefit retention and recruitment, more vacation with less gap between years-of-service requirements, a new cap to insurance premiums, and protection of seniority and the bid procedure. The Membership Negotiating Committee was successful in all four areas. Congratulations to the membership working under the new three-year contract.

Appreciate you and please stay safe.


Caleb Long, Dispatcher/Assistant Business Manager-IBEW Local 175, AFL-CIO

For the Membership: A Letter From Matt McCoy, Assistant Business Manager for Outside Construction and Professional & Industrial Electrical Cooperatives-IBEW Local Union 175

Brothers and Sisters,


I hope this communication finds you all well and enjoying the warm weather.

I want to talk a little about an issue that will have a direct and long-lasting impact on each and every one of our members, their families, and beyond. An issue, alas, that has been Tennessee state law since 1947. Now, 75 years later, lawmakers wish to add insult to injury and enshrine right-to-work in the Tennessee state constitution. A preemptive measure that would make it more difficult for lawmakers to overturn in case of a federally mandated repeal of right-to-work.

Let’s talk about what right-to-work really is, and what it is not. I will begin with the latter.

During my tenure, I have encountered far more individuals who do not fully understand right-to-work than those who do. The overall scope of right-to-work is far smaller and much more sinister than most even realize. A common misconception is thinking right-to-work and at-will employment are one in the same. At-will means an employer may terminate you at any time for any reason or no reason at all without incurring legal liability.

Right-to-work statutes address nothing as it pertains to your right to keep and maintain a job. In fact, your right to keep and maintain a job remains a core component of the collective bargaining process between unions and employers.

Following federal enactment of the Taft-Hartley act of 1947, no person may be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, nor may membership dues be utilized for political purposes. These are both separate federal laws not within the purview of any right-to-work statute.

So called “right-to-work” laws go a step further and entitle employees to the benefit of a union contract, including the right to force a union to process their grievance if they feel the employer has wronged them without paying any of the cost. Unions are the only organizations in the United States compelled by federal law to represent non-members. Under right-to-work laws, unions are required to process the non-dues-paying employee’s grievance, even if it costs tens of thousands of dollars. These non-dues-paying employees also enjoy the higher wages and benefits that their dues paying coworkers fund and enjoy. In states that do not have right-to-work statutes employees still do not have to become members. If an employee elects not to join, they still must pay an agency fee for the extra benefit they receive as a result of the union and collective bargaining process. Right-to-work removes the burden of the agency fee on the non-member, forcing the union to represent them without proper payment. A quick search of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website reveals that states with right-to-work statutes have lower wages and more workplace injuries across all workplaces.

Simply put, right-to-work laws ensure a small group of workers are promised a superior product and service, without the obligation of payment for said goods and services. With hope that unions will be crippled to a point of insignificance and no longer pose a threat to corporate profits.

This in an egregious attempt to gaslight working class citizens to their own detriment via false rhetoric and an erroneous slogan. The overarching goal of right-to-work has everything to do with weakening unions, diminishing workers’ rights, maintaining low hourly wages and absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s rights or employment status.

But wait, there’s hope! The proposed amendment will be on the ballot in November and WE CAN STOP IT! Do not assume the cavalry is coming and leave the fight to others. This battle is ours and ours alone. We need to educate ourselves and as many others as possible. We must get the word out and show up at the polls!

I ask that you all join me in taking up the fight to oppose this heinous attack on workers’ rights and get out the vote!

If you have any questions regarding Amendment #1 or how to get involved please, call the Local today. It would be my pleasure to discuss this with you and get your name on the volunteer list while we are at it! We will be doing some phone banking and will need all the help we can get.

Spread the word, VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT #1! You already have the right-to-work….for less.

In solidarity,

Matt McCoy, Assistant Business Manager-IBEW Local 175, AFL-CIO

For the Membership: A Letter From Grant Rains, Assistant Business Manager for TVA Annual Maintenance, Electric Power Board, and Electrical Cooperative Utilities-IBEW Local Union 175

Greetings IBEW Brothers and Sisters,

I hope all is well with you and yours. In the Outside Utility world, work is as busy as it has ever been.

One area of focus that I would like to discuss is “internal organizing”. Internal Organizing is the process of unionizing a group of employees at a workplace that already has a portion of its employees unionized or working toward organizing those in the bargaining unit that are currently not dues paying members.

Local 175 has been able to do this in the last 3-4 years at a couple of our outside utility units. In my opinion, internal organizing comes down to relationships within your work group and how you treat others. For example, if you are in the union and shun or act rudely toward someone that isn’t, they are most likely never going to want to join the union. On the other hand, if you actively show those employees that the union is for everyone that wants to be a part of it you are likely to draw those people in. 

At Middle Tennessee Electric Corporation and Volunteer Energy Cooperative, Local 175 has members that show the benefit of becoming a member of the union. Along with the benefits, they also show a welcoming and hospitable attitude. Any time a bargaining unit can grow in numbers they become stronger, and that’s exactly what these two bargaining units have done.

In conclusion, I would like to commend these two groups of Local 175 members for their hard work, day-in and day-out, to keep the power on in the respective communities.  Thank you for maintaining a good relationship with those that aren’t part of the union today…but may be tomorrow.


Grant Rains, Assistant Business Manager-IBEW Local 175, AFL-CIO

IBEW Local 175 Awards the 2022 Richard Allen Trimm Memorial Scholarship 

(Pictured L to R: Bill Hudson-Proud Local 175 Dad, Miss Anniston Hudson-Richard Allen Trimm Scholarship recipient, and Caleb Long-Chairman of the Richard Allen Trimm Memorial Scholarship)

IBEW Local 175 sent a letter, on April 25th, to Local 175 Brother Bill Hudson’s daughter. It read:

“Dear Miss Hudson,

It gives IBEW Local 175 great pleasure to award you The Richard Allen Trimm Memorial Scholarship. We feel confident that you will honor the members of IBEW local 175 and The Richard Allen Trimm Memorial Scholarship with hard work and an all-out pursuit of academic excellence. Congratulations on this achievement…”

The Richard Allen Trimm Memorial Scholarship provides four years of college tuition assistance to a son or daughter of a Local 175 member or a deceased member. Our hope is that this $3,000 per year scholarship removes certain financial burdens and empowers its recipient to achieve a four-year college degree.

This scholarship is very competitive. The winning applicant must demonstrate a history of excellence in the classroom and have played a significant role in making their community a better place.

We offer our congratulation to Miss Hudson and look forward to awarding the second scholarship beginning in January 2023.

IBEW Local 175 Examining Board “Tops-Out” a New Generation of Journeymen 

On April 30th, the IBEW Local 175 Examining Board administered the 2022 Journeyman Classification test. Fifty-seven apprentices walked into the Donald E. Baker Memorial Auditorium and, after successfully passing the test, fifty-seven Journeyman Wiremen walked out. Congratulations and thank you for your commitment


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