|The “Opportunity” in Volunteering in Community Projects|
Union’s rely on our members volunteering, both within our local and with community projects. The more that we involve ourselves in our community, the more the community will involve themselves in us as a union.
Recently in Pocatello, both the Fire Fighters and the Police went through wage negotiations. Because of their community involvement, when they reached out to that community, they received tremendous support for their position. They were successful in reaching an equitable agreement in their negotiations because the public was behind them.
For IBEW Local 449, the opportunity that we have to serve our local communities also gives our fellow citizens a chance to get to know who we are and why we are part of a union. Most people do not know what the IBEW is and what we stand for, let alone how we help all working people in our State and Country. Being a part of their lives by helping them with their needs allows them to get to know us as professional electricians and individuals.
Participation also benefits us personally. It can be life changing to help those that have less than we do. I know it has helped me to understand how those in my neighborhood struggle on a daily basis and to appreciate the effort that my Brothers and Sisters put in to provide for me a means to have all that I have. In the early days of the IBEW people sacrificed from their personal life and some died, to guarantee the freedoms and protections that I enjoy every day, at work and at home. Today our Brothers and Sisters that volunteer to help guide our union, whether working in the local office or spending long hours trying to help new or old members, do so, not because it only benefits them personally, but because they know that it benefits our membership and all in our trade. They understand the obligation that we all swear includes the objective of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers where it states, "To cultivate feelings of friendship among those of our industry" and "to assist each other in sickness or distress". These objectives must extend beyond our Brotherhood if we are to be successful.
In these divisive times in our country it is very important that we take every chance to find ways to bring it together. Volunteering in a small community project in our local area is one method of doing this, using positive actions to help others will bring positive re-actions for us.