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The Relay - June 2017

July 7th, 2017

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No.6 June 2017

"Our economy is out of balance. Growing labor unions, rather than decimating them, is one way to bring a measure of economic stability to our nation." John Patrick

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

Greeting Brothers and Sisters,

Well, Summer has finally come to Local 175. We've enjoyed some unseasonably nice weather and we know that we're going to move into a heat wave at just any time. Speaking of heat wave, with Summer comes the added safety concerns for workers of overheating, sunstroke, dehydration, etc. Be aware of those around you who may suffer from any of these conditions.

June 2017 brought the Riverbend Festival to Chattanooga. We know many of you went and enjoyed the shows. This huge festival employs several Union members that you might not realize are our brothers and sisters. Folks like:

  • IBEW Local 175 - Triple E Electric 
  • International Brotherhood of Police Officers LU 673  
  • International Association of Fire Fighters Local 820
  • International Association of Stage and Theatrical Stagehands Employees Local 140

Our thanks go out to our MANY brothers and sisters who support union workers and our rights in the workplace.

I want to take a minute to clarify a couple of terms that I hear mentioned frequently. "Right-to-Work" and "Employment At Will". These are two distinct and separate items. When the Right-to-Work law was passed in Tennessee in 1949 there was an effort to limit the influence of unions. In the eyes of management, Unions had far too much say in the rights of workers. When the RTW law passed, it allowed workers to enjoy the benefits of a union-earned and negotiated contract without paying for them. This created a situation for Unions that is not practiced in the business world. Free representation.

There are no other organizations who are forced to represent you although you choose NOT to be a member. The Chamber of Commerce requires its affiliates or associates to pay dues or not enjoy the benefits of membership.  So it is with all other similar representative bodies. Working on a Union job and not being a member is the fastest way to lose wages, benefits, and strength gained in numbers.

Besides those items above, IBEW "A" membership provides benefits such as a pension for simply keeping your dues paid; and a couple of death benefits that will protect your family. There are many other benefits of membership. If you are someone who thinks that they are better off on their own, I challenge you to schedule a time to sit down and talk with one of Local 175's agents to discover the benefits that you are missing out on. I'm sure your spouse and family would agree that 2 separate death benefits would provide a degree of security in the event of your accidental or untimely death.

IBEW Local 175 also has a separate death benefit that any member can participate in. The cost to join is $5 with a $3 payment upon notification of the passing of a participant. When notified, each participant makes a $3 payment to IBEW Local 175 in the name of the deceased Brother or Sister. Upon notification from the IBEW International Secretary's Office, Local 175 sends a check in the amount of $2.75 multiplied by the current number of participants in the Death Benefit Fund.

So, I'll continue on the path of RIGHTS and BENEFITS for a little longer.

Two of the MOST IMPORTANT things we do for our families is:

  1. Keep dues paid current - more than 2 months delinquency WILL affect benefits.
  2. Make sure that you have the CORRECT BENEFICIARY on your health insurance, Southern Electrical Retirement Fund, IBEW Local 175/International Office and IBEW 175 Credit Union.

You may have other accounts that should be addressed as well. Following a divorce or death, changing the beneficiary is urgent. You must make it a priority. Make sure YOUR FAMILY is protected.

Now let's address "Employment At Will". In the State of Tennessee, if you are not working under a Collective Bargaining Agreement, you are an AT-WILL employee. What this means is that your employer can terminate your employment for any or no reason. You work"At the Will" of the employer. Period! That's the difference in Right-to-Work and Employment At Will.   I've included links to these two topics. Please check them out for yourself. 

The month of May brought the Inaugural Spring Ride: Off Road Edition to Local 175. We posted the video, produced by the International Office, later in this newsletter.

June brings planning sessions for a larger Fall Motorcycle Ride and a Family Day at 175 and the Chattanooga JATC. In 2016, we had over 40 riders in our Inaugural Fall Ride. We hope to see increased participation in both events going forward.

Also in June, negotiations continued with North Alabama Electric Cooperative. Special thanks again to IBEW 175 Assistant Business Manager Jim White, IBEW 10th District Representative Jim Springfield, and the Brothers at NAEC for their persistence on this 1st contract.

In late June, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and IBEW Local 175 successfully negotiated a new 3 year contract. Special thanks to MLEC Unit Chair David Qualls, Mike Hickerson, Michael Bradley, Barry Wilson, Troy Walton, and Aaron Hinson. Thanks also goes to IBEW Local 175 Assistant Business Manager Matt McCoy who serves the MLEC Unit. We'd also like to thank MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan, VP of Operations Ed Greenwell, VP of Employee and Member Services Miranda McCaleb, and the rest of the MLEC negotiating team for their diligence in reaching a Win-Win outcome.

With June behind us, I wish you a safe and happy July 4th. Special thanks to those in uniform who work diligently to keep us safe and free, as well as, our civil servants who must respond to whatever may present itself. Our prayers go out for your safety, vision, and leadership.

May we all be blessed with the realization of just how blessed we truly are.


Gary Watkins

Letter from IBEW Local 175 President Winfred Gearrin

Greetings to all our Brothers and Sisters,

I hope this letter finds everyone in good health and enjoying the beginning of Summer. As the months progress, take time to remember our veterans and service people while we celebrate the 4th of July. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. 

While we don't have any confirmation yet we still anticipate the work in our jurisdiction to pick up by the end of this year. If you are working on the road always be mindful of jurisdictional courtesy. You are representing Local 175 and keeping our reputation and standards high so that others will admire your work and do the same when they are working here. I thank you for what you are doing and encourage you to stay safe.

The recent loss of one of our brothers reminds us of the importance of keeping our union dues current. This brother was a member of Local 175's Death Benefit and because his dues were not current, his family/beneficiary was not able to receive his benefit when it was needed. Please keep your dues paid current. This should be priority. It not only helps your retirement, it gives your family a financial safety net should, God forbid, anything happen to you.

The members of an organization are what makes it strong. I am proud of the fact that we have over 3100 total members from all walks of life. There is strength in numbers. This is why it is important to attend the union meeting. Make plans to attend and be active. Get involved. Union meetings are the most basic way for your voice to be heard. UNITED WE STAND.

It is my wish that God bless and enrich each and every one of our Brothers and Sisters and the future of this Local Union.

With best regards I am,

Winfred Gearrin

IBEW Local 175 Spring Ride: Off Road Edition Featured On

Ralph White Electric & WELBRO Building Corporation Partner to Resurrect Chattanooga's "Gold Building" 

The "Gold Building" has been an undeniable fixture on the Chattanooga landscape for over 40 years.  The former BlueCross/BlueShield office complex's reflective exterior has not shined as bright in recent years as it has been unoccupied. The vacancy provided local investors, Ken and Byron Defoor, the perfect opportunity to revitalize the landmark and transform the structure into a new Westin Hotel and convention space.

When it comes to providing engineering and construction services to the hospitality industry few do it better than Ralph White Electric. Ralph White Electric, powered by IBEW Local 175 journeyman wireman and apprentices, was awarded this project and took on the heavy task to turn the structure back into one of Chattanooga's great landmarks. 

Randy White, Vice President/Project Manager and dues-paying member of Local 175, recently gave IBEW Local 175 a tour. "We brought over $1 million in cost saving for our customer by designing around some of the existing infrastructure. That value based engineering helped us get the job," said White. White also highlighted the Journeyman and Apprentices he has working for Ralph White Electric. He proudly highlighted that Ralph White Electric had several journeyman on the job that had worked several years for the company. "We have Apprentice of the Year Colin Cole working on this project. We have experienced journeyman like Mike Bowman with 32 years of service, Stanley "Flip" Hullander with 31 years, and Nick Phillips with 15 years." This IBEW/NECA partnership illustrates the value that we bring to the marketplace.

Once completed, The Westin will feature 228 guest rooms, a convention hall, business meeting rooms, and a top floor Sky Bar.

Local 175 Members on the job: Mike Bowman, Ronnie Raby, Gregg Tate, Nick Phillips, Avery Cooper, Mark McKaig, Colin Cole, Jason Layne, Stanley Hullander, Daniel White, and Rob Cofer.

IBEW Local 175 Member Featured in Field & Stream.

Find out what a lifetime of coon hunting means to Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative employee and IBEW Local 175 Brother Mike Hickerson...

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