There’s an active youth movement taking root at IBEW Local 1245.
It began in 2009, when Business Manager Tom Dalzell reached out to younger members and began involving them in our union as shop stewards, unit officers, and committees, including major bargaining committees.
Inspired by the first national AFL-CIO Next Up Young Worker Summit in 2010, ten members of our local established Youth Engaged in Solidarity (YES). The goal: educate and motivate other young members to step up and get involved. YES organized a conference at IBEW 1245 headquarters, expanding the number of young members involved in this program.
IBEW 1245 Brother Lorenso Arciniega, now 33, was appointed to the AFL -CIO National Young Workers Advisory Council. Arciniega teamed with four other Local 1245 young members to design and launch the IBEW 1245 Facebook page.
With encouragement from the business manager and IBEW 1245 organizers, young members have continued to expand their activities.
In early 2011, IBEW 1245 hosted a series of educational workshop aimed primarily at young members. Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich led a workshop in Berkeley, Another workshop tapped the expertise of Clayborn Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. A workshop in Fresno featured Gilbert Padilla, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers.
IBEW 1245 Organizer Fred Ross Jr.:
It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. There are people in this state who have spent a lifetime trying to advance the cause of labor and we wanted our young leaders to meet them and exchange ideas with them.
Apprenticeship programs in unionized trades value “learning on the job,” and the same principle has guided IBEW 1245’s efforts to train the next generation of union activists. The union sent campaign teams, composed primarily of young members, to fight anti-union forces in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Besides myself (I'm 29 and serve as a political coordinator) other emerging young leaders include Steve Gallow, 33, and Lloyd Cargo, 30, who serve as liaisons to the AFL-CIO youth caucus in northern California. Others have also stepped into leadership roles, gaining valuable experience that will be put to good use in the upcoming campaign to defeat the Special Exemptions Act—the union-busting ballot proposition—this November.
Younger members can bring an incredible amount of energy to fighting these battles. We’re giving them opportunities to exercise leadership and they are rising to that challenge.
Young leaders are beginning to create their own opportunities for building the union. In the Sacramento area, they formed an organizing committee to look for ways to connect members with each other, and to connect the union with the larger community. The result: a Sacramento Regional Charity Bowl that raised over $1,000 for the Shriners Hospital for Children… and some old-fashioned fun for members and their families on the bowling lanes.