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Pulling Louisiana Out of the Ditch: There is Hope on the Horizon

Union members and friends of Labor, we are on the precipice of a tidal change of political direction. In fact, the current political landscape is ripe for Labor to advance its agenda, both in Louisiana and across the nation. If you haven’t felt the excitement in the air, you haven’t been paying attention. Now is the time to do so, because it’s up to you to make sure it continues to change.

With the Louisiana electoral season in full swing and elections on the horizon this Fall for all state constitutional officers (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Insurance Commissioner), in addition to all 39 State Senate seats and 105 State House seats – we have a lot of work ahead of us. That being said, the political tide is definitely turning in our beloved state, thanks to the disastrous 8 year tenure of our outgoing ultra-conservative absent Governor and current Presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal. He has done such a horrific job leading our state that voters are primed for significant change. As tempting as it is to review the countless ways he has ruined Louisiana for future generations, this isn’t about Jindal anymore. This is about looking foward with the most hopeful outlook that we have had in over a decade, and ensuring we work to elect a Governor that will do everything in his power to undo the damage that has been done – Representative John Bel Edwards – who was endorsed with a standing ovation at the 2015 Louisiana AFL-CIO Convention in March.

On Saturday, July 25 the Louisiana Democratic Party held their annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner in New Orleans, which turned out to be one of the largest and most successful dinners they’ve ever had. There is tremendous momentum building for Representative Edwards to become our next Governor, and we’re even seeing early excitement and energy for the 2016 Presidential election as well.  This year’s dinner honored former U.S. Senator Mary Landreiu, and featured speeches by special guests Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and candidate for Governor Louisiana Representative John Bel Edwards.

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Senator Bernie Sanders, Courtesy of Louisiana Democratic Party

Al Bostick, Political Director for IBEW Local 130, was in attendance and found Senator Sanders to be inspiring. “Bernie Sanders was absolutely terrific. He delivered a shortened version of his usual hour long stump speech that he presents at the huge rallies he’s been holding. He addressed not only key labor issues, but every important labor issue. He’s our best hope in 2016. Bernie is currently polling ahead of Jeb Bush in a head to head match-up. In other words, Bernie is far more likely to win the general election than Hillary, whose unfavorable numbers are higher than favorables by a lot among all registered voters.” Bostick wasn’t the only one who was impressed by Sanders; the following evening, Sanders packed the Pontchartrain Center with nearly 5,000 supporters in attendance and whipped the crowd into a frenzy of excitement. His straightforward, no-nonsense approach, willingness to speak his mind and state his specific policy opinions about everything from doing away with Citizens United, his intense opposition to the recently passed trade agreement, and raising the minimum wage to $15, resonated strongly with attendees.

Representative John Bel Edwards also delivered, giving a very energizing and motivational speech. Edward’s message was abundantly clear: If you want four more years of Jindalesque politics, vote for one of the other guys. If you’re fed up with the status quo and believe that there is a better way to conduct state business, manage the state budget and provide our citizens a better way of life, then look no further.

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Representative John Bel Edwards, Courtesy of Louisiana Democratic Party

Paul Zulli, Business Manager for IBEW Local 130, believes Edwards is the only sensible choice for working families. “John Bel Edwards spoke about putting Louisiana, our working families and children first. He spoke on many issues, like the thousands of Louisianians without health insurance because of Jindal’s failed policies. He also talked about the fact that the cost of sending our children to college in this state is far too high. This is a candidate that knows the issues facing working men and woman and he needs our help. It is time for us, the men and women of Louisiana, to stand up and be that voice for ourselves and for our children – and make it heard in the voting booth by voting for John Bel Edwards.”

Representative Edwards is clear and well informed about the issues that matter to labor unions in the state. Many of these mirror the same problems facing other individual states and the country as a whole, in large part due to reprehensible laws and regulations passed by Louisiana’s very conservative members of the legislature, in addition to Tea Party conservatives that have held Congress hostage for years, making it virtually impossible to pass meaningful and beneficial federal laws that benefit the middle class.

Edwards believes Louisiana workers deserve a living wage and the need to fix the ongoing healthcare related problems in Louisiana. He continued to say that policies are needed to protect low wage and hospitality workers, because they make “too much” to qualify for Medicaid and are not on the health care exchange – making it nearly impossible to take care of their families. Louis Reine, President of the Louisiana AFL-CIO said, “Edwards also talked about the need for an equitable tax system that is good and fair for everyone, rather than balance the budget on the backs of hardworking Louisiana families and workers as Governor Jindal has done every single year since he took office,” largely through smoke and mirrors.

As Representative Edwards continued, his speech was met with tremendous applause. He also stated that funding of our K-12 educational system should be a top priority and allow families to make sure their kids have the best chance at a bright future. (Representative Edward’s wife, Donna, is a teacher and union member.) He believes the only way to do that is to adequately fund our schools and our secondary institutions, instead of slashing their funding year after year after year, which has left our educational system in complete disarray. Reine also noted that “Edwards specifically mentioned the need to expand technical educational opportunities in Louisiana,” an issue near and dear to many union members who value the apprenticeship training opportunities afforded them. Expansion equals greater access to skilled training opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed who need new skills to become self sufficient, tax paying workers looking for a career path.

According to the most recent polls, Representative Edwards is in a dead heat with GOP frontrunner Senator David Vitter, who is well known for his penchant for paid escorts. When you go to the polls this Fall, will you be the reason that John Bel Edwards wins or the reason he loses?

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Get the First Look at IBEW Local 130’s New Commercials

Watch them here first before they air!

Tulane Football Spot

TV Commercial 

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Updating the Way We Do Business

Brothers and Sisters,

Local 130 is updating the way we do business. Please be patient while we work out the kinks in our referral system, along with a few we created along the way. The International Office has introduced new software to conduct our business, which includes a new referral system. It has been installed, and we are currently in the testing phase before it goes into operation and is fully implemented. The referral hall is now open all day, as long as there are jobs on the books. We are available for referrals, resigns, sign-ins or supplying information.

The referral system isn’t the only upgrade we are making. Our FB page has 5,000 friends, mainly IBEW members, and can be viewed by anyone. Smart phones, laptops and i-Pads have become the tools of the future, so we are also transforming the Referral Waiting Area into a resource and information center. We are currently installing a computer, scanner/fax/printer and webcam to assist our members in completing on line applications for credentials needed locally or on the road. Members can also print maps or documents at will. Further, we are utilizing the wi-fi system to include online searches. We have designated a wall for work opportunities from sister locals who are in need of workers.

Also, as a convenience to our members, Billy Buckel will begin accepting emails for resigns at billy@ibewlu130.com. If you are currently using the fax system please continue to do so, because it is still the best way to send forms. If you are wondering whether you have been updated, please contact Billy and he will confirm. We are human and we do make mistakes so a quick check does not hurt.

We are open to all suggestions and will work hard to improve the way we do business at Local 130. New Orleans is recognized for its fun, food and hospitality all over the world. Local 130 wants to extend that hospitality to all of our traveling brothers and sisters. Our wages may not be the highest now, but stay awhile – the work is good and the people are better.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Give us a call the hall at (504) 831-1372. Thank you.

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Keeping the Lights On for You: The Newest IBEW Commercial

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Local 130 Members Volunteer to Fight Crime

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) – Residents in the Hollygrove area say they feel a little safer after new security cameras are installed, free of charge on several homes. The goal is to prevent crime, by showing criminals, there’s always someone watching.

Gracie Atkins has lived in her Hollygrove home for 40 years. “We look out for each other, we don’t want bad things happening in this neighborhood,” said Atkins.

Knowing so many people, Atkins has a pulse on the comings and goings of her neighborhood explaining, “Our issues and our problems used to come from a couple blocks down the street and my car has been hit four or five times from people running away from gunshots, things like that.”

Atkins thinks a new camera installed on her home Saturday, will deter some of that crime.

New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry started the project. “When cameras go up, the criminals are finding out about it, they’re not being in those areas, it’s really working well,” Guidry said.

Over the past year, Guidry’s been helping different neighborhood groups apply for grant funding which they then use to purchase cameras with.

Chet Held is with the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Held gathered 16 of his guys Saturday, who are volunteered their time, to install the cameras. “You never want to hear of a loved one or a friend that’s been hurt so by helping to put these crime cameras up, its personal, its personal for everybody,” said Held.

Ten cameras were installed Saturday on nine different homes, bringing the total to 50 in District A so far this year. Project Nola will monitor the cameras, free of charge.

Bryan Lagarde, with Project Nola, explains, “We were concerned the more cameras we put up, the more work we’d have. But it’s actually going just the opposite. The more cameras we put up, the less work we have because crime goes down.”

Gracie Atkins certainly hopes that’s the case in Hollygrove and that this little piece of equipment will do it’s job. “We want a safe neighborhood,” said Atkins.

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