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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