On Thursday January 14th through January 17th our Local Union 1049 Business Manager Donald Daley, two (2) Local 1049 Executive Board members, Connie Fritzlo, Pelton Geter and myself attended the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) 26th Annual Leadership Conference, which was held in NYC. Also attending the conference as well were two of LU 1049 shops stewards and Equal Opportunity Committee members, Anthony Scotto and Kathleen Puglise, who each were able to attend one day each.
Each year the EWMC conference is held in different parts of the Country and coincides with Martin Luther King Jr's birthday weekend. This is to celebrate and honor his life and legacy, to remind us how far we have come, and yet how much more we still have to do within our Local Unions and Communities.
This year's conference was hosted by Local Union 3 and Local 25, and the theme was "Fighting for Economic, Political, Racial and Social Justice for All". Membership for the EWMC is open to all IBEW members. The mission statement of the EWMC is to:
- Promote equal opportunity and employment for minorities and women at all levels of the IBEW structure
- Foster leadership development, empower , support and assist in the organizing of minorities and women in the in the IBEW
- Be actively involved in Human, Civil and Women's rights organizations both within and outside of the organized labor.
- Encourage greater Activism in Community and Political Affairs
Local 1049 currently promotes the mission statement above as we have our own Equal Opportunity Committee (EOC) that has been established since 1977. Currently it consists of members from both PSEG LI and National Grid. However, what makes the EWMC unique is that each year the conference brings together men and women from all branches of the IBEW (in the United States and Canada) to network, support and unite, explore, learn and exchange information on issues affecting working families. The conference consisted of participating in interactive skill-building workshops, volunteering for a day, panel discussions to address social, economic and political issues impacting people of color and women, in particular, and our society as a whole. This year there were over 600 IBEW delegates in attendance.
On Thursday, volunteering of our time, was a very rewarding experience. There were over 400 delegates that signed up and registered for a "Volunteer Day of Giving". We were fortunate to assist ENCORE Community Services on West 49th Street, NYC which provides meals for Senior Citizens on site or to their homes. ENCORE also provides on- site Social Services for those entitled to Food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid Veterans' benefits, etc. as well as legal services and a Friendly visiting program.
As our shop steward Anthony Scotto stated to me in sharing his thoughts for the day: "We were provided a route sheet and meals to deliver to some of the New York City's less fortunate residents. We observed both Hope and Despair while delivering the meals prepared by the Soup Kitchen at Encore. Some were despondent and angry, but most were grateful and appreciative of the delivery. It was inspiring to see IBEW members from every corner of the US, and its territories. It was a humbling and rewarding day of service, which I feel honored that I was a part of! -Robin Rodriguez