IBEW Local 459, PA

2016 State of the Union Letter

Monday, December 12, 2016

I want to thank the membership for your overwhelming vote of confidence in the 2016 Local Union elections and for allowing me the privilege to serve as Business Manager of this great Local.  It is truly an honor to represent and lead the membership forward as we face the many challenges before us.  

In 2016 the Local staff negotiated nine (9) contracts, with four (4) of those contracts being ratified by the membership for five (5) or more years.  Currently there are four (4) contracts in negotiations, all contracts combined approximately 713 members are affected.    

In the last 12 months many opportunities for training were made available to the Officers and Staff.  In preparation for contract negotiations occurring in 2016, training was provided to the negotiating committees that included an informative segment about the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).  In addition, the annual Shop Steward Workshop session was held in April.  Each year I strive to keep the workshop fresh and more informative from the prior sessions and provide topics of importance to representing Local 459 members. All Stewards are strongly encouraged to attend these valuable sessions held each April.       

On the behalf of members, Stewards continue to work extremely hard protecting our working agreements.  All combined, 112 grievances were filed for contract violations with two (2) grievances resulting in an arbitrator ruling and one pending NLRB board charge.  The work of your Stewards should never be taken for granted.  Always be mindful that your Shop Steward is protecting your rights, benefits, and working agreements. Proof of this is the $4,153,244.00 returned to the membership of Local 459 through the grievance procedure since 2013.

In 2016, the largest company we represent on behalf of members, NRG Energy, gave notice to Union Leadership of their intent of reductions at two (2) larger work locations.  Thus far no member has been displaced.  Affected members reacted to the news with undivided support and solidarity to their Union.  During discussions with management our message to members was simple: Less plant compliment and more contractors on site, equals less bargaining strength.  When times are good, it is easy to take for granted the worth of a collective bargaining agreement with language protecting job security.  I fear this fight is not over, however with continued solidarity we have the best chances for a favorable final outcome.  No Union, No voice.  United We Bargain, Divided We Beg.

In September, delegates from Local 459 attended the 39th IBEW Convention. To commemorate the 125th year of the IBEW, the Convention was held in St. Louis, MO. which is the birthplace of our Union.  In addition to the normal proceedings there were numerous speakers, resolutions and amendments to be voted on by the delegation. The International media department produced a video featuring Emily Whitehead, the daughter of Local 459 member and Penelec Lineman, Tom Whitehead.  The video tells the story of ground breaking treatment for cancer patients, of which Emily is the first to receive.

Also this year, a record number of eighteen (18) outings were organized in an ongoing effort to encourage Brotherhood in the spirit of Unionism.  Some returning events included a 5K run/walk by the Active Members Outreach committee, the district picnics, and a Local 459 day at Waldameer Park in Erie, PA and Idlewild Park in Ligonier, PA.  Once all 2017 events and dates are finalized, the schedule will be mailed to all members as well as posted on the website.  With the large number of work locations within our Local it is a challenge to visit every job site, therefore the scheduling of social outings serves as an opportunity for members to convene with Local Officers, in addition to the regular five (5) district Union meetings a month. 

October of 2016, the Local sponsored the first Local 459 retiree luncheon at the Union Hall.  This new group is chaired by Local 459 retirees and looking for interested volunteers.  The next event is scheduled for Spring 2017. 

Recently, Local 459 office manager, Margie Zimmerman began enjoying her much deserved retirement.  Margie had worked for the Local since 1996 and her professionalism and unmatched attention to detail will be missed.  We wish her the best and thank her for years of dedication.  Much success of Local 459 is the result of a talented and knowledgeable office staff, including current Office Manager Amanda Shaffer and Administrative Assistant Jamie Muir. Collectively they provide consistent, reliable, effective, and organized support allowing the Local’s business representatives to focus on their responsibilities of representing YOUR best interests at the bargaining table and enforcing the contract language of your negotiated agreement.     

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to report to the members of 459.  I am dedicated to the continued progress of our Local and increasing the advantages of Union Membership.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such talented and experienced representatives, office staff, and a new Executive Board that truly has only the best interests of the Local in mind when making decisions concerning its well being.  Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve the membership of Local 459.                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                                        In Solidarity,

Paul Cameron, Business Manager

LOCAL 459 BY THE NUMBERS

  • 125 Years - November 28 marks the 125th anniversary of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union November 28, 1891.
  • 82 Years - Local 459, January 16, 1934.
  • 27% - More in wages and benefits for union members then non-union workers or $5.50 return for every $1.00 of dues.
  • 47 - Total Local 459 contracts.
  • 9 - Total Local 459 contracts negotiated in 2016.
  • 4 - Total Local 459 contracts expiring and currently in negotiations.
  • 3  - States represented by Local 459.
  • 1865 – Number of 459 members
  • 10  -  Total Local 459 Union Representatives (i.e., Bus. Reps., Sr. Bus. Reps, Asst. Bus. Mgrs., & Bus. Mgr.)
  • 122 -  Local 459 Stewards.
  • 2 - IBEW Districts within Local 459 Jurisdiction – 3rd and 4th.
  • 5/60 - Local Union meetings every month and total per year.
  • 18 – Social outings organized by members for members. (Picnics, baseball games, etc.)
  • 0  -  Discrepancies found during independent quarterly and annual audits performed by two separate outside financial auditors and the IBEW International Office.
  • 2 – Committees within the Local, Young Workers (AMO) and Retiree Group.
  • $1000. – IBEW Local 459 scholarship amount to be awarded in May 2017.