As you all know Shop Stewards play a vital role in our organization. No Union can be successful without the dedication of hardworking, ordinary people, who have agreed to step up, take a leadership role and represent their fellow brothers and sisters.
The Shop Steward role is wildly underpaid and often a thankless job. In an effort to recognize the value these members bring to our Local we are instituting a monthly recognition program by which Shop Stewards are nominated for “Shop Steward of the Month”. The nominations come from peers, Business Representatives or anyone in the Local who feels a particular Shop Steward deserves recognition.
Shop Stewards chosen as the “Shop Steward of the Month” will be featured on IBEW Local 77’s website, in the quarterly newsletter, and will receive a $25 giftcard to be used at the IBEW Local 77 online store or a store of your choice.
If you know of someone who excels in their role as Shop Steward and deserves recognition, please consider nominating them. Forms for nomination are available below or by contacting Betsy Thew at (206) 323-4505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob was nominated by Business Representative Tim Barnett! Here is what Tim had to say about Rob:
I would like to thank Rob Chilcote for stepping up to be the new Shop Steward for the non-apprenticed employees with Okanogan PUD. We had a gap there for some time after the previous shop steward left and it was difficult to get someone to fill the spot because of concerns that supervisors might take offense to issues brought forth. Of course, we all know that they shouldn’t retaliate and Rob wasn’t as concerned. It helps that he has a different supervisor than the majority of the group he covers.
Rob has been with the District since 2003 and is eager to serve his Brothers and Sisters in this capacity. He has already asked lots of good questions and makes sure to keep me up to date.
Rob allowed me to modify his photo for the upcoming Local 77 Reports news article. The story behind the photo was that it was being used for a local gym promotion. Since January, Rob has lost 45 lbs. Good Job!
Shop Steward of the Month - March 2018
Meet Hans Spoelstra
Hans is a Journeyman Lineman with Kittitas County PUD.
Hans has been an invaluable asset to both Local 77 and his co-workers. In addition to his role as Shop Steward, Hans has been a part of negotiations and labor management. As a Shop Steward, Hans has taken the lead for the members and helped defuse multiple situations that have arisen. Hans’ dedication and commitment to both IBEW and its’ members is apparent in his willingness to go above and beyond. He has helped out his fellow members and business representative Chris Henning, who nominated Hans, by working towards solutions to problems before they escalate to grievances and after.
Shop Steward of the Month - February 2018
Meet Bryan Ring
Congratulations to Bryan Ring, February’s Shop Steward of the Month! Bryan is a Journeyman Lineman for the City of Ellensburg. Bryan is dedicated to being the best Shop Steward he can be and isn’t afraid to go the extra mile when it comes to the members in his bargaining unit. Because of his role as a member of the negotiating committee, he is proactive in making sure that everyone, managers and members, are adhering to the collective bargaining agreement. Bryan takes initiative when there are members who need help and always follows through to reach a solution. He is steadfast in his belief of the Union and what he represents as a steward!
Bryan was nominated by Business Representative Chris Henning.
Shop Steward of the Month - December 2017
Meet Ben Reyes
Ben has recently agreed to take on the role of Chief Steward for Grant County PUD. This position includes several different areas, including Fish and Wildlife, Priest Rapids Dam/Wanapaum Dam and T & D. Ben has been instrumental in coordinating with his fellow Shop Stewards, providing both guidance and a united voice to management. With over 380 members in varying occupations, his role will be a unifying one as we enter an uncertain era of Labor, (i.e. Supreme Court) he will be the Member-2-Member liaison if you will for the Business Office. Ben has been a proactive Union member; he’s attend 2 years of Grace Carroll Rocky Mountain Labor School, has also volunteered as a RENEW committee member, and many other roles. Ben was nominated by Kennewick’s Assistant Business Manager Brian Gray.
Shop Stewards of the Months - October & November 2017
Meet Jen Watson & Dustin Hampton
Shop Stewards often find themselves positioned between the company they work for and the members they represent. The vital role of Shop Steward is more often than not, a thankless job and has been met with increasingly negative consequences. These are just a few of the reasons that Business Representative Rex Habner is proud to nominate Dustin Hampton and Jen Watson for Shop Steward of the month. Dustin and Jen are both outstanding Shop Stewards for Puget Sound Energy. They have been targeted, retaliated against and all the while, have continued to stand strong for our membership. Dustin and Jen truly exemplify courage, strength and determination, without concern for themselves. IBEW Local 77 and PSE have been under a tremendous amount of pressure to reach a successor agreement for 12 months, which has resulted in a negative internal campaign from PSE. We owe them a debt of gratitude for all of their hard work. Thank you and all of your efforts!
Shop Steward of the Month - September 2017
Meet Joe Rife
The Shop Steward of the Month for September is Joe Rife!
Joe Rife is a Journeyman Lineman at Snohomish County PUD, currently working as the Trouble Truck Foreman. Joe has been a Shop Steward for more than 26 years and is who many of our members go to for support and guidance with contract issues. Joe was nominated by his Business Representative, Nichole Reedy, for his dedication to the role and his unequivocal availability. If ever a Steward is needed, you can count on Joe to be there. He spends an inordinate amount of his free time, all hours of the day and night, working on issues that arise District wide. While he spends most of his time with the line department, he also often consults with Facilities, Customer Service, the Warehouse, System Operations, and every other department, if necessary.
Joe has been instrumental in the rebuilding of our relationship with management at SnoPUD - after 7 long years of a tumultuous and adversarial association with the District. He can be counted on for a historical perspective and direct response, regardless of the issue.
Congrats Joe on being the Shop Steward of the Month for September!
Shop Steward of the Month - August 2017
Meet Brandon Arkle
Brandon Arkle is the Shop Steward of the Month for August 2017!
Brandon Arkle works for Avista Utilities and recognizes the importance of being involved in the Union. Brandon’s dedication to the job shows. He is a Grace Carroll Rocky Mountain Labor School graduate and former RENEW Committee member. Because of his involvement, everyone knows who he is. Not only within the bargaining unit, but on the non-bargaining side as well. His knowledge and passion for the job is apparent in his work and interactions with everyone. His ability to communicate with everyone also makes him a great investigator when needed, and he isn’t afraid to ask questions.
As the Chair for Unit 123, Brandon’s dedication to the position shows. Not only do the members feel comfortable coming to Brandon, but they know that they can rely on his knowledge to get the answers they need. His attention to detail and his reliability make him a valuable asset to the team, which is why Mike Brown chose to nominate him for Shop Steward of the Month.
In addition to his involvement at Local 77, he is also involved with IBEW Local 73 and the IBEW International. Brandon also recognizes the importance of educating not only himself, but also his brothers and the importance of building up the brotherhood.
Congratulations Brandon for being the Shop Steward of the Month!
Shop Steward of the Month - July 2017
Meet Rick Mittge
The Shop Steward of the Month for July is Rick Mittge!
Engaging people in politics can be a difficult task. Most will vote, but not consider volunteering on a campaign or even talking with their elected officials. And while they may follow some issues, they choose not to discuss them publicly with friends, family, or co-workers. Therefore, it is often argued that we live in a country where only a minority of individuals are actively engaged in the political process. People ask, why should unions be involved in politics? This is a message commonly used by our adversaries and anti-union organizations. It can be difficult to overcome that negativity and understand why political action is important to the labor movement in general and union members in particular.
One member who took on that task with heart and enthusiasm is Brother Rick Mittge. Rick is a Journeyman Line Foreman at Pacific County PUD.
When Pacific County had elections for a new PUD Commissioner, Rick knew we needed to get involved. He set up interviews with the candidates, members and our Political Action Director to make a focused endorsement of the candidate who would stand up for working family issues and IBEW. That candidate was Dick Anderson. Commissioner Anderson has since been an advocate and ally to our union and membership.
But, Rick didn’t stop there. He went back to his unit and encouraged each member to sign up for PAC. If he could have gotten management to sign up too, he would have! Brother Mittge has used his voice at the state legislature advocating for safety policy that impacts our workers and our industry.
Union political power is impossible without the full participation of an organized, educated and mobilized membership. Without member participation, we cannot protect ourselves or make any gains.
Thank you, Brother Mittge for your dedication and activism.
Shop Steward of the Month - June 2017
Meet Marc Geoffrion
The Shop Steward of the Month for June is Mark Geoffrion!
Mark Geoffrion was nominated by his Business Representative Chris Henning for always going above and beyond what is asked of him, and giving up a significant amount of his free time to help his Union and his Brothers and Sisters. He is always willing to stand up for fellow members when they are wronged and is frequently in touch with Chris with information so that he can move forward fighting for members rights.
Mark is not only a Shop Steward – he is on the Negotiation Committee, he is an EWMC delegate to the Seattle chapter, he sits on the Labor Management Committee, he has attend the Grace Carroll Rocky Mountain Labor School, LERC Leadership Training and most recently has volunteered to be a Trainer for our current Member 2 Member campaign.
By his own admission, he didn’t always think that the Union was as important as he now believes. But today, you wouldn’t ever have guessed it. Mark attends unit meetings regularly and is always willing to help. He has a great passion for the solidarity of our Union and is willing to fight to make us stronger.
Congratulations Mark on being the June 2017 Shop Steward of the Month!
Shop Steward of the Month - May 2017
Meet Mike Schoenberg
The Shop Steward of the Month for May 2017 is Mike Schoenberg!
The Shop Steward of the Month for May 2017 is Mike Schoenberg! Mike is a Line Serviceman at Avista Utilities where he has been an active Union member for nearly 40 years! He has been involved in our Union not only as a Steward, but also as a negotiator, a participant of RENEW, as an organizer, and he even filled in as the Business Representative. He was nominated by his Business Representative, Mike Brown.
Mike has a passion for administering the contract. As a member of the negotiating team he knows what both sides have gone through to come to those Agreements. Mike always fights for what is right and just. He is respected by our Union, the members and even management. The company know who is and what he stands for. To date he has participated in grievances numbering into the hundreds.
To be a leader, people have to respect you. Mike is respected by all he comes into contact with. He will answer anyone’s questions and devotes plenty of his personal time to making sure things are taken care of. Mike is always there to listen and with his experience there is no situation that he cannot make a positive impact to.
Thank you Mike for your ongoing participation, activism and hard work upholding the the Constitution and Bylaws of our great Local, and the contract at your bargaining unit!
Shop Steward of the Month - April 2017
Meet Doreen McGrath
The Shop Steward of the Month for April 2017 is Doreen McGrath!
Doreen was one of the leaders of the IT group at the City of Seattle that looked to Local 77 when their previous Union dissolved their relationship with the IT work group. Over 15 lunch meetings with different departments were held to explain why the employees should choose Local 77 and get cards signed. Doreen would have a table in the lobby of the Seattle Municipal Tower every week, full of Local 77 literature, stickers, buttons and lanyards. Due in large part to her efforts, we collected nearly 390 signature cards for a group of about 425. With that we were certified to begin bargaining a first contract.
Doreen has been a Shop Steward from the beginning, filing and winning numerous personnel rules grievances (this is the system these workers had to use until the contract was signed). Since the contract has been signed, Doreen has conducted monthly “Lunch and Learns” for both stewards and members. She also leads the Shop Steward’s meeting each month (held before their general membership meeting) ensuring each Shop Steward has an opportunity to be heard, and their issues discussed.
During contract negotiations, the City was dragging its feet and not much progress was being made. Doreen led the charge to encourage our members to wear red every Monday. This had a great impact as so many members participated, Management couldn’t help but note it at every meeting.
Doreen has also taken the challenge of identifying locations for all of our new members and ensuring a Shop Steward is assigned in each area. She has sought out members who were interested in becoming Shop Stewards and set up meetings for them to meet with the Business Representative to discuss the role of a Shop Steward. There are now nearly 40 stewards in the IT group, and most still consult Doreen on any issue that come up in the workplace.
Doreen has attended Organizer training in Las Vegas for Local 77 and is in the process of starting to organize another group of over 200 workers at the City of Seattle. Her motor never stops running; Fighting for the rights of ALL workers is what drives her.
Doreen has been a great help to not only to her Business Representative, Steve Kovac, who nominated her for Shop Steward of the Month, but to all of our new members and members of other units. Doreen has stepped up and helped everyone who has approached her. She is a great asset to her Business Representative, Local 77, the IBEW and workers everywhere.
Shop Steward of the Month - March 2017
Meet Ben Cook
The Shop Steward of the month for March 2017 is Ben Cook!
Ben Cook is currently a Journeyman Lineman working for Kootenai Electric Cooperative. Ben was nominated for Shop Steward of the Month by Keith Gednalske. Ben has been a Shop Steward for five years and is valued by his members for always listening and respecting any concerns they may have. He is hard working and takes his position as Steward very seriously, always fully investigating any problem or concern that comes his way. His goal is always to find the most positive outcomes for the members, regardless of the situation.
When Ben isn’t spending his personal time taking classes to expand his Shop Steward skills, he is working with apprentices as a 3rd year instructor. He is very interactive with the three Kootenai Electric apprentice’s – always quizzing them on transformers and other areas of line work.
Congratulations Ben, the Shop Steward of the Month for March 2017.
Shop Steward of the Month - February 2017
Meet Teri Kannor
Teri Kannor currently works for Asplundh as a Traffic Control Supervisor. Teri was nominated for Shop Steward of the Month by her Business Representative, Chris Henning. She has been an outstanding Shop Steward for the last 8 years, always donning a smile and a positive attitude. Teri is currently the Recording Secretary for Unit 149 and has been at the table for the last 3 rounds of negotiations. In addition to her duties as Shop Steward, Teri is an active IBEW Local 77 member, always spreading the word of what’s going on at the Local, and organizing and attending events, such as chipping Christmas trees for the Boy Scouts. Anyone that has met Teri can tell you how enthusiastic she is about being a part of this local Union. She is never too busy to help a fellow Brother or Sister and always goes above and beyond.
Congratulations Teri on being the Shop Steward of the Month for February 2017.
Shop Steward of the Month - December 2016
Meet Vince Galera
Shop Steward of the Month for December is Vince Galera.
Vince Galera is a Journeyman Tree Trimmer who is currently a Foreman for Asplundh Tree Expert Company. Vince was nominated for Shop Steward of the Month by his Business Representative, Chris Henning. In his 5 years of tenure as a Shop Steward Vince has been educating his fellow members about the Union and the importance of protecting the contract. His fire and passion are evident in his efforts to stand up to the employer and fight for what is right. Most recently Vince led a long and arduous fight against Davey Tree to cover members under the City of Seattle's Sick and Safe law. It is because of his efforts that our members will be paid the money they are owed. When asked what he would tell others who may be interested in being a shop steward Vince answers with a simple, "Do it."
Congratulations Vince on being recognized as the December 2016 Shop Steward of the Month!
Shop Steward of the Month - November 2016
Meet Jason Trotter
The Shop Steward of the Month for November is Jason Trotter!
Jason Trotter is currently Line Crew chief at Seattle City Light. He has been a Shop Steward since 2003. As a Shop Steward, Jason has represented members in many different situations including job status issues, members facing termination, and at Loudermill hearings. He’s also a member of multiple committees.
Jason was nominated by Brad Beatty. Brad explains why he nominated Jason:
I am nominating Jason for Shop Steward of the Month because he always goes above and beyond when representing members. He always fights hard for our Union members, regardless of the situation. Everything he does, he stays in touch with the members and is informative and very thorough. Jason represents all members equally and is always available when needed. He is very intelligent, well spoken, does not need repetitive explanation and does not let the department miss any information. Jason is a real leader and he creates a great atmosphere to be involved in and around.
Jason had this to say about being Shop Steward of the Month:
I was an active member at my previous employer and have a strong belief in holding the employer to the CBA we work under. I have enjoyed representing members during investigations and help them feel at ease and supported. I feel that all members are stewards of the Union. If you are interested, contact your Shop Steward and ask questions. Be an active member by attending Unit Meetings and participate. The steward position is appointed by the Business Representative and is an extension of that position.
Shop Steward of the Month - June 2016
Meet Vanessa Schaefer
Shop Steward of the Month - June 2016
Vanessa is currently a Lead Customer Service Representative at Puget Sound Energy (PSE). She has worked at PSE for 11 years, and has been a Shop Steward for 1 ½ years. Rex Habner, the Business Representative for PSE, nominated Vanessa for her hard work and dedication as a Shop Steward at the Bothell call center. According to Rex, throughout all of Puget Sound Energy this is one of the most challenging headquarters for a Shop Steward. Several times a week issues arise and Vanessa has consistently showed genuine concern for her fellow members. She is willing to go to great lengths to stand up for their rights, even travelling up to Bellingham for fact finding meetings. Thank you for the essential work you do in making the IBEW the right choice, Vanessa!
What made you want to be a steward?
I was never involved in the union until I attended a CSR Summit. That weekend, I learned a lot about the union and the good things that can be accomplished when people work together. My Kismet (Melissa Southard) and I decided we wanted to get involved together so we signed up to be shop stewards before the weekend was over.
Tell us about a significant event or one of the best memories you have as a steward?
Working with CO Smith was definitely my favorite thing about being a shop steward. I loved watching him argue with upper management when he didn’t agree with them and I always looked forward to our shop steward lunches with him once a month. At last year’s CSR Summit, a group of us sang karaoke to him as a farewell into retirement. That was very memorable!
What would you tell others who may be interested in being a shop steward?
It's a good starting point if you want to do more for the union but aren't sure where to begin. You learn a lot about the company and people you work for. It’s definitely an eye opener as to the things that go on behind the scenes. It’s also rewarding to help co-workers in need and educate them on what the union can do for them.