Visiting the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 479 union hall on Cardinal Drive, one can sense a certain air of excitement about plans being made for the coming weeks. Activities are planned to honor the 100 years of the union’s rich and varied history and to celebrate the workers, both men and women, who have labored within this organization to help make Southeast Texas a leader in construction and maintenance of electrical concerns. “We are indeed excited about the 100th year celebration of our local union,” said Mark Stanton, executive president of the board of directors for International Brotherhood of IBEW Local Union No. 479. “According to the charter for our organization, IBEW Local Union No. 479 was chartered on March 26, 1913, here in Beaumont, Texas. The names of the charter members are listed on the document, and we are proud of our long and trusted heritage.” According to IBEW documents, Local No. 479 was founded to help improve the working conditions of electrical workers in Southeast Texas and to help create higher standards of living for their family members. The charter Stanton referred to is a bit battered and faded. Water spots can clearly be seen on the parchment. It has survived several hurricanes and other storms that have hit the area, but it is a prized and revered document at the union hall. According to organizers, unions are, in general, about a very simple proposition. When workers in any industry or business join together, the men and women gain strength in numbers so that they may have a stronger voice at work concerning the matters that concern them most. The group representatives are able to negotiate a contract with their employer for a fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement, and family-friendly policies including sick leave and scheduling hours. Family members of the union employee are always at the forefront of consideration and many of the planned activities for this important celebration center around the entire group. In fact, the IBEW literally takes to heart the “brotherhood” of the group, and many testify to the fact that the workers and their spouses and children become family. Although union activity has been on the decline in some areas, organizers say that the group is always adapting to the challenges of the nation’s evolving workforce, and that local unions are meeting the needs of workers in today’s more flexible and nontraditional work environments. Union members believe that no matter what type of job an employee is in, he or she is best served by being represented by the local union. The representatives are trained to be aware of all legislation, safety measures, and the proper treatment of all employees. Their goals are to speak out for fairness for all working people in their communities and help to create better standards and a strong middle class across our great country. IBEW Local Union No. 479 is proud of its rich history and the work its members have done in Southeast Texas. Workers point to the many jobs they have completed in the 100 years of operation in the area that are woven into the colorful fabric of the exciting lives in the unique communities that make up this region of The Lone Star State. Some of the sites that readily come to mind are: • Lamar University’s Montagne Center • Refineries • Parkdale and Central malls • Edison Plaza • Crockett Street Entertainment District • Texas State Optical Stores • Beaumont Civic Center • Libraries, schools, and other businesses Local Union No. 479 also provides a credit union for its members and friends to utilize, monthly activities for all retirees and their spouses, much needed insurance, the all important continuing education of its members, classroom training, and a dedicated apprenticeship program that works to provide well-trained and trusted electricians. The members are also ready to face storm duty and recovery efforts on the front lines when natural disasters strike. Fellowship, parties, celebrations and strong friendships that stand the test of time are also attributed to the union membership. Many families attest to the kindness and concern of other union members when illness or death strikes a home. But most important, the union is a team reaching for the same goals and aspirations. “Everything I have or am, I owe to the local union,” said one retiree in a luncheon meeting at the hall recently. “They have taken very good care of me in my 60 years as a member, and my family and I appreciate the lifestyle we’ve been able to live because of the union.” The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represents about 725,000 members who work in a wide variety of fields including utility, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads, and government. The IBEW has members in both the United States and Canada and continues to stand out in the AFL-CIO. Stanton added, “Reflecting on our vast heritage, we come to realize once again how the lives of our union members, and their families, are intertwined into the very history of Southeast Texas.” In a greeting to union members and retirees, Stanton said, “Many buildings, institutions, and places of interest bear the mark of IBEW Local Union electricians’ work. We can view with pride the contributions we have made to our area, and look forward to serving these communities for years to come.” Officers and executives serving IBEW Local Union No. 479 during this exciting year are: Business Manager: Bruce Carlson President: Mark Stanton Vice President: David McShan Treasurer: Wade Cooley Recording Secretary: Jose Ibarra Executive Board: Kent Bobo Will Gower Danny Herrmann George Keller Carl Perricone Lisa Wilson Examining Board: Doug Elmore Ray Massey Kirk Tiller Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.