Report on Membership Development Conference. November 2016.
Conference opened with comments from Ricky Oakland. He talked about the growth of IBEW membership for the third straight year. He spoke about the growth of the Membership Development Conference. He also talked about the importance of continuing to organize to give life blood to IBEW.
Keynote address from International President Lonnie Stephenson. He spoke of the positive things the IBEW has done through organizing. He also asked us, as representatives of the IBEW to step up our efforts in getting the message to all workers in the electrical industry.
Sam Chilia International Secretary-Treasurer talked about the political situation, with less than favorable results from the election. He spoke of the difficult road ahead. He said that we have been on rough roads before, and that we will grow and flourish even in tough times.
Emily Timm was a guest speaker. She is the Organizing Director for the Workers Defense Project. They are a grassroots organization working in Texas. They have worked to raise awareness of the safety issues, poor working conditions and low pay. The labor movement and local unions in Texas have worked together. There efforts have been a catalyst for change. They have been able to make improvements on all fronts. To the point of saving lives.
Gene Morrill, Senior Staff Emeritus with the National Labor College. Reminded us of the need to have positive communications with all players that effect our position in the work place.
We then broke out into workshops.
The first work shop was Top-Down Conversations with Employers-Closing the Deal. Presented by Kirk Brungard and Gene Morrill. We learned the obvious, that top down is tough. Sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be, because we don’t listen to their concerns. We have our presentation ready and we deliver it weather they get it or not. Then we walk away and wonder why they aren’t willing to work with us. I need to develop better listening skills in order to become a better organizer.
I attended: Keeping Communication Legal. Presented by Jon Newman. He is partner with Sherman, Dunn, Cohen, Leifer & Yellig, P.C. We learned of the dangers of communicating incorrectly. Such pitfalls as libel and slander could put us in jail. We talked about company logos and branding that have possible fines as well. I learned I need to be very careful about how I communicate as a representative of our local.
On Wednesday we started out with Jon Gordon, author, motivational speaker. He is the author of The Energy Bus. A book that was given to us at registration. I will be reading the book and working on the vision of the book. Some of the things that he covered in his presentation were big picture vs microscope. The need for more commitment. Staying positive and feed the good dog. We need to talk to ourselves and not listen to the negative thoughts. He states that leadership is a transfer of belief.
We then broke out into workshops.
I attended Best Practices in Construction Organizing. Presented by Greg Boyd District Organizing Coordinator, IBEW Ninth District. The key to successful construction organizing, according to the presentation was to have a plan and stick to it. Top-Down, bottom-up, salting, marketing. Research is important to the success of the plan. Work to learn the needs of the people you are working with. Don’t try to second guess them or try to solve problems that do not exist.
The next work shop was Controlling the Availability of Skilled Labor. Presented by Timothy J. Brown, Victor Monaco, and James Reppert Organizers IBEW Local Union 98 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They provided an Organizing Strategy Field Guide. They talked of controlling the availability of skilled labor. They have a dramatically larger market share and therefore this is much more effective for them. They discussed organizing through job advertisements & controlled hiring. They also talked about overt and covert applications to catch temp agencies in ULP’s. Then using the law through the NLRB to push the temp agency out of their area.
The next session was the Construction Seminar. We were welcomed by Virgil Hamilton Director of Construction Organizing. He went over numbers and some of the problems we are facing.
IBEW-NECA Training report presented by Todd Stafford Executive Director, Electrical Training Alliance. He gave a breakdown of the direction of the ETA.
More from the Electrical Training Alliance. Marty Riesberg, Director of Curriculum Development. Gave a presentation on Virtual Journeyman Evaluation.
Emily Timm with the Workers Defense Project. She gave more along the lines of the work that they are doing in Texas. They have had legislative victories and public perception is beginning to change for the better.
Clif Davis is International Representative, IBEW Business Development Department. Gave a business Development report.
A Discussion with the President. Lonnie Stephenson presented more of his vision about how important our concerted activities are in organizing. He believes that we can and will be able to stay ahead of attrition and help the IBEW grow and stay healthy.
Thursday we began in general session to listening to a guest speaker Jon Fussell U.S. Navy Seal (Commander Select Retired). He shared the concept of team work, keeping the mind set to see thru to the completion of the mission.
We had a panel discussion on Diversity and Inclusion. Things that we need to do to include minorities, and those who are different from us.
They had a group of organizers play the Family Feud game.
Ricky Oakland closed the conference with Membership Development Report. He talked the numbers and gave challenges to go out and press forward in our cause. He stated that it is a righteous cause to work for the betterment of society.
This was very helpful for me to refocus. I thank Russ and the Local for the opportunity to attend.
It is an Honor to represent Local 354.