Many IBEW members aged 35 and younger had the pleasure of attending the IBEW 3rd District Progress Meeting / Youth Caucus at the end of September. It started with International VP, Don Siegel, addressing the younger members along with President, Ed Hill. The message that they shared was that they were all young once and they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the union movement alive. One photo they displayed was of the ten founding members of the IBEW and the question was asked: "What do you see in this picture?" The following answers were thrown out from the floor: the founding members, old guys, guys with cool mustaches, etc.
The real answer was the First Young Workers of the IBEW. In St.Louis, Missouri, Nov. 1891- the original ten founding members came together for the first convention; most of them in their late twenties to late thirties. They wanted fair pay and a safe work environment, much of the same things we continue to fight for today. The second day the youth broke away from the progress meeting and about fifty IBEW Youth Caucus members went to Ventnor, NJ to aid Atlantic County Revive with construction on three house's that were damaged during hurricane Sandy. It was really nice to see IBEW members working together doing jobs outside of their comfort zone and having a good time doing it.
The message that the 3rd District is trying to convey to the youth in the IBEW is not to be afraid to talk about our unions. When you're out amongst the community, talk about the union and the benefits of being a union member. When at work, ask questions, or better yet - ask your union stewards how you can help or get involved. It is up to us to keep building on the foundation that was laid out in 1891. So to find out ways to help build the IBEW 83 Youth Caucus, contact Business Manager Leo Yanez at the union office at (607) 798-9718.