Back in 2014 UCOMM covered the NYC Labor Day Parade. That year, the Business Manager of Local 3 IBEW was the Grand Marshall and thousands of IBEW members marched in celebration of not just their leader and themselves, but they marched in triumph of all labor had fought for and accomplished over the years.
I was recording audio for UCOMM Radio which at the time was on WABC. I did my best to grab comments from as many labor leaders as possible, but let's be honest; how many "I am proud to be union" comments can you listen to. Covering the parade was getting lame and unexciting, but then I ran into Ed Hill, the President of the 750,000-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
I heard from our friends in the IBEW that their International was putting funding and efforts into developing "Young Worker Caucuses" - and chartering committees of young IBEW members across the country to take on leadership roles to learn their tradecraft and eventually become the next generation of union leaders within the IBEW.
I took this opportunity with Ed Hill to ask him the question; How excited are you about the IBEW Youth Caucuses? In an answer I did not quite expect, he said, "There's got to be people coming behind us because if not, then we will never get anything going forward."
It was then I quickly realized the caliber of leader whom I was talking with. This weekend, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will be laying Ed to rest. As he makes his way up to Heaven, while one of our nation's largest and strongest union's gather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to pay their respects, here are what a few UCOMM clients have to say about the late, great Ed Hill.
"Over the years we watched Ed Hill lead by example. He sacrificed tirelessly and served the Brotherhood with integrity. Ed was a realist who compelled us to act, to face reality. His quiet demeanor under-lied his ability to think things through. His decisions required foresight, especially in times of adversity when critical factors may have been overlooked and he made the difficult decisions. He was always open with us and he challenged us to differ with him, but most of all he forced us to act by telling us the truth and not what we may have wanted to hear. A leader, a statesman, he was our Ed Hill and our union is in a better place because of him. Well done my brother." -Chris Erikson, Business Manager Local 3 IBEW in New York, New York.
"Ed was the most dynamic speaker that I have ever listened to people hung on his words and had a way to energize the labor movement. His heart and soul were in it. He brought in the younger generations and they wanted to get involved in their union because of his leadership. It will be hard to fill the void that was left" -Ted Skerpon, Business Manager IBEW Local 97 in Syracuse, New York.
"Simply put - Ed was a dedicated labor leader and a good man to lead our union." -Gary Bonker, Business Manager IBEW Local 10 in Binghamton, New York.
"President Emeritus Ed Hill was the galvanizing force behind the RENEW program early on, encouraging Business Managers across the US and Canada to engage their young workers, acknowledging that young workers are the future and providing us the support and legitimacy necessary to grow and strive." - Chris Erikson Jr. Chair of the 3rd District IBEW Youth Caucus.