The Strength of the Union Family

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Two months ago, your IBEW 11 Executive Board appointed me to step into the newly vacant Business Manager and Financial Secretary role because I know the ins and outs of our union, having occupied almost every position in the local’s leadership.

It’s true I know a lot about this Union. But more importantly, I know that I don’t know everything.

As your Business Manager, it is my duty to listen to what our members have to say. That is why we will meet in person to discuss allocations and also why we will include a rank-and-file member on our negotiating team in the future. You asked and I heard you.

I have worked in the field throughout my career, and I’m not far removed from that time. I have family members who are part of this Local, and they help me stay connected every day. But I still need to hear the voices of those who have different experiences than me and are close to the ground.

Before I joined the labor movement, I served in the Air Force for four years. In the military, you learn quickly to work with everybody around you no matter their background and you master the concept of “Service before self.”

It’s the same for me in this Union. I am responsible for over 11 thousand members plus their families, folks with very different lifestyles, values and cultures.

We have both Republicans and Democrats. We have both apprentices and retired brothers and sisters taking a pension. In our Union, we provide for and take care of every possible family configuration from single mothers to young bachelors to three-generation families living under one roof.

Despite these differences, we are all Brothers and Sisters of IBEW, and we must come together at certain moments, like during contract negotiations and when it comes time to head to the polls to vote. That time is now. That vote is March 5.

We have always and forever will be, stronger together!

At times like this, we should all be thinking not about what’s best for me, or him, or them. We must think, ‘What’s going to be best for all the members of our Local?’

Times are changing, and we have to change with the times. We have to bring new ideas, new opinions and take a fresh look at everything.

Part of that is looking at which things we can control and to move quickly to make the situation better. Another part is recognizing the challenges ahead and navigating them skillfully.

When it comes to our Union, there are some things we cannot do. And since it is my responsibility to take care of this Local, I’ll be the first to pipe up with the hard truth and say, “Nope, that’s not going to happen.”

For instance, I would never have a lawyer sit in for us at the negotiating table. We bargain for ourselves.

But beyond these hard truths, changes can and should be made. For example, this month, I did away with the three strikes rule that was making members’ lives harder at a time when we have plenty of Brothers and Sisters who are available to take a call.

When we start to have unfilled calls, then the strike system will go back into place. But that is not the issue today, and I don’t want to see members punished under an ineffective policy.

You will also start to see more information going out to members when it comes to allocation meetings, and more transparency in the reasoning behind our actions.

If you have questions or suggestions, I’m always open to them. I don’t see everything. You can always come up to me and say, ‘Hey, what about this?’

I’m ready to look back at you, shake your hand and say, ‘You know what, I didn’t even think about that!’

Remember, we are and always will be stronger together.

In Solidarity,

Robert Corona
Business Manager/Financial Secretary

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