A dose of perspective

From a Blue Hat

By Terry Shannon, Alliant Energy

Troubled flight gives a safety lesson

I recently had the opportunity to attend the National Safety Council Labor division meetings and IBEW Caucus in Charlotte, NC. On the way home, I had something happen that I would like to share as it really puts safety into perspective.

We had a flight from Charlotte to Atlanta and then on to Cedar Rapids. During the second part of the flight, the pilot came on the intercom and said there was a possible problem with some cooling fans and that we would be making an unplanned landing in Nashville to have the issue looked at, since they had a repair shop at that airport.

They were concerned that if the cooling fans weren’t working correctly, it could affect the computers. As soon as he made this announcement, there was grumbling among almost every passenger on the flight. 

“We would be late getting home,” “Could they fix it immediately?” or “Would we be sitting in an airport for hours, or even worse, sitting on a hot plane while they attempted to make repairs?” These were just some of the thoughts that went through our minds as we prepared to land in Nashville.


Once we were safely on the ground, they did let us off the plane while they made the necessary repairs. Several times they came on the intercom to give us updates, but by now we were all a little upset because we were obviously going to be late. After about two hours, the repairs had been made and we boarded the plane and were off for Cedar Rapids.

As I was sitting in the terminal waiting for the repairs, I had time to really think about what was happening, and everyone’s negative response, including my own. As I thought about the inconvenience this created for us, I also thought about the inconvenience of crashing in a rather large airplane. Would I rather fly on an airline that says there MIGHT be a problem, so we are going to land and check it out, or an airline that says there might be a problem, but we are going to take a chance and see if we can make it back to Cedar Rapids so that no one gets home late? When I looked at it that way, it made sense and I realized how stupid I was for feeling inconvenienced for the extra effort to make sure we made it home safely.


I then put this in perspective in my daily life, mostly my work situation. Would I rather work for a company that sets rules and procedures that are designed to keep me safe at work and allow me the time to do my job safely, or work for a company that really doesn’t care about me as an individual, a company that TALKS safety but doesn’t walk the talk.

I think we are all very fortunate to work for a company that allows us the time and resources to do our job safely. I’d much rather go to work every day knowing that I have every opportunity to do my job safely and return home in the same condition that I went to work in, or better. 

It’s easy to get the attitude that our rules and procedures slow us down and sometimes even make it more difficult to do our job. I just keep reminding myself of the day in the airplane, and I’m glad someone was watching out for our safety. 

Now it’s my obligation to do the same at work, for both myself and my co-workers. Work safely every day – someone 

Breast Cancer walk a success

By Karen Krshul Long, Administrative Assistant

IBEW walkers turned out for hope in 2015

Way back on a lovely Saturday morning in late October, IBEW members, their families and friends graciously made charitable history. 2015 was a year in which we went all-out to raise funds in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

We invited all IBEW locals in St. Louis and the Metro-East to join Team IBEW by donating to meet our $5,000 goal. We had a nice group walk, and everyone went above and beyond my expectations in donations.

Team IBEW’s online dashboard with the ACS Making Strides shows $8,155.59. We had the incredible honor this year of having our very own “Real Men Wear Pink” designee, Ron Kohring, Business Representative of IBEW Local 1455. Ron also led in our fundraising by surpassing his personal goal.

I would be remiss if I didn’t personally thank LaDawn Ostmann, Ameren Labor Relations Director, for assisting in our “Headquarter Challenge.” I know we will no longer be able to continue this part of our fundraising, but her intervention clearly helped make our 2015 overwhelming donation. Her efforts are sincerely appreciated, not only by Team IBEW, but me personally.

It’s been five years since my diagnosis, and through the help of Making Strides, treatments have improved, research continues to find answers, and lives are being saved. One of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Let’s help change these odds.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at 8 a.m. in Forest Park. We’ll see you there!

Times goes quarterly

By Mike Walter, Business Manager

     1439 Times are changing

     The 1439 Times was established in 1994 as a way to increase communication with the membership, to educate and as a means to unite.
     The paper has taken on several appearances as the paper quality and imaging have improved. It has always been distributed on a bi-monthly basis (six issues per year).
     At this time, we have decided to reduce the paper quality and change the distribution of the 1439 Times to a quarterly basis, beginning with the January-March 2016 issue. The main reason is to reduce costs. However, on the flip side, we now have multiple means of communication with the use of what we term “social media” and/or technology.
     Throughout 2016, Local 1439 will be moving toward a more advanced method of communication. We will better utilize Facebook, add Twitter, improve methods to electronically read the 1439 Times (smart phones, for instance), and redesign our website.
     I must admit I have been delaying the inevitable. Yes, I am at times a bit old-fashioned. Although I recognize the importance of good communication, we must make the necessary efforts to communicate with all generations of our bargaining unit.
     We must prepare for the future. That is, if we want to be around another 70 years.
     Your comments and suggestions are always welcome

From the desk of Billy Howle

By Billy Howle, President

Organizing takes top priority for IBEW

Billy     I would like to follow up on last month’s article. By the time you read this, you should have your new electric lux gloves. There was a misprint in the last article. It was supposed to say the new glove didn’t begin to break down until 120,000 cycles, but the article said 12,000 cycles. This is important because our old gloves break down at 10,000 cycles. That’s kind of a big deal.

     In September, Mike and I went to Membership Development Conference. This conference is mainly about organizing. There were many positives.      

     One is that union density in the IBEW has increased in the past two years. This is due to the aggressive organizing effort of the IBEW. The IBEW constitution states that we must organize every electrical worker in the United States and Canada.

     Here at 1439, we have been doing some internal organizing in our Entergy contract, and Representative Doug Mueller has picked up four new members. Business Manager Mike Walter is working on a very significant target that looks very promising.

     Please call if you have or know of a good target that we can start looking at. We all have friends and family who would love to be in a union and have some job security with a negotiated contract.


     Another big part of the convention was health care and the IBEW health plan. If you read Mike’s article, this could not have come at a better time, since we are in the middle of negotiations with Ameren about insurance.

     The IBEW plan is solid and growing. They added four Fortune Five Hundred companies in the past year. Hopefully Ameren will take a serious look at the IBEW plan next year.

     The Membership Development conference was the biggest by far. Everyone in the IBEW is taking organizing to the next level. There have been some major wins this year, organizing everyone from lawyers to nurses to dispatchers.