job information
member login

The Relay - December 2017

February 1st, 2018

The Relay

The IBEW Local Union 175 Newsletter

Vol.1, No. 12 December 2017

There is no greater calling than to serve your Brother. And, no greater satisfaction than to have done it well. Walter Reuther

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.


The Relay - January 2017: Bonds of Brotherhood: IBEW LU 175 Strengthens the Brotherhood with The Inaugural Fall Ride

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. 

The beginning point of the poker run began at Crockett PowerSports-Chattanooga with stops at Big Daddy's Fireworks in Powell's Crossroads, Sequachee Valley Electrical Co-Op in South Pittsburg, and Charlie's Lounge in Soddy Daisy with the ride culminating back at the LU 175 Union Hall.

“In the initial planning stages, we wanted to reintroduces fellowship outside of work,” said Asst. Bus. Mgr. Matt McCoy, co-coordinator of the Fall Ride. “We tried to plan for all worst-case scenarios in order to provide a good ride, excluding one flat tire and one blown fuse we were able to have an awesome event.”

Riders and their families of the Fall Ride enjoyed the warmer afternoon with a catered BBQ lunch, a coronation of the poker run winner, and tables of door prizes. IBEW LU 175 partnered with multiple vendors such as Milwaukee Tools, IBEW LU 175 Credit Union, Thunder Creek Harley Davidson, InLine Electric Supply Company, Crockett PowerSports, ALTEC, and Costco which provided resources and prizes to show appreciation of the members that attended. 

IBEW LU 175 hopes that the success of this year's Fall Ride leads to a bigger event next year. Look for it again in 2017.

The Relay - February 2017: Bonds of Brotherhood: IBEW Local 175 RENEW Committee Begins its Monthly Meetings

The Local 175 RENEW Committee has started the new year off right. After sponsoring Local 175's Inaugural Fall Motorcycle Ride, the brothers and sisters of RENEW got back to business by holding its first strategy meeting of the year.   

According to RENEW's mission statement: "Greater involvement by local union members of all ages is critical to the growth of the IBEW. RENEW is an IBEW-wide initiative dedicated to creating opportunities for members ages 35 years and younger and helping them develop the skills necessary to become active in the local union and play a role in shaping its future."

During the meeting, Brother Matt McCoy and Brother Cody Walker presented an agenda associated to developing a leadership effort comprised of Local 175's younger workers. RENEW emphasizes a priority in strengthening the bonds of brotherhood and introducing the young workers to the history and values of Local 175's traditions. "The goals of this program are to educate the next generation of workers about the benefits of the IBEW, to provide a space for younger members to discuss issues relevant to their workplace and community, and to encourage their participation in programs that are focused on strengthening the local union and the labor movement."

IBEW Local 175's RENEW Committee encourages participation from all members who want to strengthen our Local. RENEW meetings are held on the 1st Monday of every month at 6:00 PM. Contact Matt McCoy for ways to get involved. 

Above photo (L-R): Brothers Tim Wright, Matt McCoy, Daniel Whiteside, Zack Ballard, Logan Haynes, Dennis Curry, Cody Walker, Zac Painter, Mchael Dixon, Ernest Pieve, Dave Roberts, and Ronnie Casey. Not pictured: Eli Watkins, Michael Lyons, Jeremy McClain, and Daniel Buckmaster.

The Relay - March 2017: 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:

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

The Relay - May 2017: IBEW Local 175 Builds a Playground

When the community asks for help, IBEW Local 175 answers the call. 

On May 20th, IBEW Local 175 partnered with KaBoom! playground, Dr. Pepper, and City of Chattanooga to bring a new playground to the Tyner community. The Local 175 volunteers spent the day pushing shovels, mixing concrete, and running wheel barrels. Councilwoman Carol Berz opened the playground with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and seized the opportunity to thank IBEW Local 175 and Iron Workers Local 704 for their dedication to the project.

If you are interested in volunteering or want a community service project in your area, contact IBEW Union Hall at (423) 894.3557.

Special Thanks to the IBEW Local 175 Volunteers: Pieve family, Zac Painter, Ashton McMullan, Zach Ballard, Hunter McCaskill, Mike Grant, Mike Lyons, Dan Griffin, Eddie Long, Steven White, Brian Boaen, Matthew Gogolin, Michael Dick, Danny Painter, Winfred Gearrin, Kent Adams, Duane Evans, Caleb Long, Jenni Berz, and Rich Michael

IBEW Local 175 Spring Ride: Off Road Edition Featured on

The Relay - August 2017: IBEW Local 175 Organizes North Alababa Electric Cooperative and Culbert Electric

IBEW Local 175 is pleased to announce that North Alabama Electric Cooperative and Culbert Electric are now signatory to IBEW Local 175. The effort to gain market share and to grow the union employer/contractor base is a tremendous task. The IBEW Constitution mandates that one of our key OBJECTS shall be: To organize all workers in the entire electrical industry in the United States and Canada, including all those in public utilities and electrical manufacturing, into local unions. Simply put, our chief goal shall be to organize all who do electrical work.

North Alabama Electric Cooperative

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! In the late 1990s, Local 175 had an unsuccessful organizing campaign at North Alabama Electric Cooperative. The typical forces were in place against union organizing and Local 175 came up short. Local 175 can now enjoy a fresh win and considers this a huge organizing achievement. 

Assistant Business Manager Jim White began the conversation with North Alabama Electric Cooperative on August 8, 2016. The employees at NAEC had lost a pay benefit and that's essentially what renewed the conversation with Local 175. Brother White had two difficult objectives to complete and ultimately achieve. The first goal was to organize the membership and to gain recognition for IBEW Local 175 as the bargaining representative. The second, was to negotiate the first contract with North Alabama Electric Cooperative on behalf of Local 175 newest members. Brother White achieved both. On August 24, 2017 the contract was ratified. 

NAEC services 8 geographical districts including Bridgeport, Stevenson, Hollywood, Scottsboro, Woodville, Paint Rock, Grant, and Guntersville. NAEC employee classifications include Line Foreman & Service Foreman, Journeyman Lineman, Apprentice Lineman, Construction Equipment Operators, Warehouse employees, Right-Of-Way Foreman, Treeman/Right-Of-Way employees, Right-Of-Way Equipment Operators, Meter Techs, Engineer-Substation Techs, and Dispatchers. The bargaining unit has 26 employees that now include 22 new IBEW Local 175 members. Congratulations to the newest members of Local 175. 

Culbert Electric

IBEW Local 175 Business/Membership Development/Organizer Mike Grant was able to fulfill the never-ending Object to "organize all" when Jeff Culbert came to Local 175 to sign his letter of assent. Local 175 first made contact with Culbert Electric in early February. Culbert Electric has been successful in the residential, commercial, and industrial bid market in Chattanooga as well as in Georgia and Alabama. "The Locals that are the most successful in organizing are the ones who have their membership engaged in the field, actively organizing, and supplying job information to Local leadership. The process was a team effort between Local 175, Chattanooga JATC, and many individual Local 175 members. Culbert Electric is going to be a great addition to our contractor base and will be an asset in securing work for our members," said Grant.

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger Talks to Apprentices from the Chattanooga JATC

What does it take to be successful? What does it take to persevere against all odds? What allows individuals and organizations to achieve great things? Local 175 apprentices and Coach Heath Eslinger had that discussion.

Prior to our most recent Union meeeting, Coach Eslinger brought the same fire and intensity to a group of 80 apprentices and Local 175 membership that he brings to the UTC Wrestling program. Coach explained the hard work and effort that it takes to get through a five year apprenticeship is almost exactly the same as the requirements needed to be successful in the wrestling room. Coach Eslinger spent a hour and a half exchanging with the group on the importance of self discipline, on how setting boundaries for oneself can be liberating, and how commitment to achieving a set goal is vital to being a member of an organization. If we build a better apprentice; we also build a strong Union. This bond will make all of local 175 stronger.

Pictured: (Left to Right) Business Manager Gary Watkins, Local 175 5th Year Apprentice Tyler Lawson, UTC Head Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger, and President Winfred Gearrin

The Relay - October 2017: IBEW Fall Festival and Motorcycle Ride

Local 175's Fall Festival & Motorcycle Ride was a huge success! 

On October 7th, we celebrated the 2nd Annual Local 175 Motorcycle Ride. Thirty-eight IBEW Local 175 members started the event with a four-hour motorcycle trip through some of the most scenic parts of our jurisdiction. The Ride included stops at Nickajack Cave, Cloudland Canyon, and the Chickamauga Battlefield. Local 175 members were also fortunate to have shared the road with members from Local 760 and Local 429.

In addition to the ride, Local 175 added a family and friends aspect to the celebration. Over 200 joined in on the brotherhood and fellowship as the bikes arrived back to the Hall. The kids enjoyed all kinds of fun activities such the Chattanooga Fire and Police Department's "Touch a Truck", inflatable jump slides, and face painting. Local 175 was also very happy to have a catered lunch for all who attended. 

Thank you to all the sponsors and volunteers who made this event a success. See you next year!

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