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The Presidents column

By Billy Howle, President

Don’t forget: This is your union! 

BillyAs you all know, we recently had a member write a letter to our Recording Secretary about making a change to our By-Laws. The change was to increase the dues, which are presently 1.3 percent on straight-time earnings, to 1.3 percent on all earnings, which would mean all overtime. Union dues: 1.3 percent of straight-time wages plus International dues of $17 plus $1 basic dues.

Obviously, any time there is a By-Laws change, it is a big deal and garnishes a lot of attention. Mike Walter and I spoke on this proposed change and wanted to make sure this process was very transparent and handled correctly. If for no other reason, neither of us want to go to jail for breaking any labor laws.

The more I thought about it, I realized that Local 1439’s business is the most transparent business there is – your business. Many positives came out of this motion, and I think members received an education on how some aspect of the business works.

Some highlights of the process that were learned by members were these:

BY-LAWS – Any member wanting to make a change to our By-Laws simply needs to write a letter to our Recording Secretary. If you don’t know who that is, it’s Matt Curry. In that letter, state your motion and explain why you are making the motion. Then, I will read your motion at two St. Louis Regular Monthly meetings, and the rule for voting on your motion will be followed. If you don’t have a copy of the By-Laws, you can come to a union meeting and get one, or call the union office and one will be mailed to you.

 YOUR UNION – The second education that came out of this motion, after many telephone calls and questions, was about financial stability. Members learned how their union works. This is YOUR UNION. You elect a business manager, officers and executive board every three years. 2016 happens to be an election year. You can nominate someone for the positions at the Nov. 8, 2016, St. Louis Regular Monthly meeting or send a letter to Recording Secretary Matt Curry. The nominee must be present at the meeting to accept the nomination to be put on the ballot.

 ACCOUNTING – The other education members received was on how their money (union dues) is being spent. They found out that at any union meeting, the Treasurer’s Report is available to every member. In that report each month, every penny the union receives or spends is clearly listed and will gladly be explained if need be. Anything beyond the day-to-day operations must be approved by your 17-person Executive Board, and Roberts Rules of Order are followed. After it passes the Executive Board, it is read at the St. Louis Regular Monthly meeting, where the members present must pass with a motion, made and seconded, then a show of hands for voice vote for the motion to pass or fail. Bills will be shown on the next month’s Treasurer’s Report, which you can view.


As you can see, your union is the most transparent business there is. It is being scrutinized by your Executive Board, the members, auditors who are CPAs, and finally by the Department of Labor. Unions must file more forms with the government than any other business out there.

Finally, questions were raised about pay for the Business Manager, his Business Representatives, the Officers and the Executive Board. All of this is clearly spelled out in the By-Laws. 

Remember, this year you will be empowered to elect people for the next three years who will be responsible for these positions. You are putting them in charge of running the day-to-day operations of your business and serving your needs. This is our union. Be proud, because we keep the lights on!

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 

Times goes quarterly


     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