WBEZ | International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers http://www.wbez.org/tags/international-brotherhood-electrical-workers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Activists rejoice as coal-fired plants shut down http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Fisk.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 219px; width: 300px; " title="Built in 1903, the Fisk station stands near Dvorak Park in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. (AP file/M. Spencer Green)" /></p><div>Neighborhood and environmental activists are celebrating as Chicago&rsquo;s last two coal-fired electricity plants enter a three-month decommissioning phase. But the closings are leaving dozens of Midwest Generation workers without a job.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The company, a subsidiary of California-based Edison International, says its Crawford station in the city&rsquo;s Little Village neighborhood burned its last lump of coal more than a week ago after operating since 1924. The Fisk station, constructed in 1903 in nearby Pilsen, shut down Thursday night.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Activists campaigned for more than a decade to close the plants or curb their harmful emissions, which included asthma-triggering soot and carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Standing near Crawford on Friday afternoon, Rafael Hurtado of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization almost had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn&rsquo;t dreaming.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The smokestack and the chimney are not running,&rdquo; Hurtado observed. &ldquo;The parking lot is empty other than the security guards. This is a victory not only for our organization but Little Village and Pilsen and the city of Chicago.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Local 15 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represented about 135 workers at the plants, says some are accepting retirement packages or transferring to another Midwest Generation site, where they will bump employees with less seniority. The union represents about 700 workers at the company&rsquo;s six Illinois generators.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There just aren&rsquo;t enough jobs,&rdquo; said Doug Bedinger, a Local 15 business representative for the workers. &ldquo;There will be hardship.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Midwest Generation President Douglas McFarlan said roughly 100 union members are leaving voluntarily while another 50 get laid off.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>McFarlan, meanwhile, said the company is trying to sell the Chicago sites. The timing of environmental remediation &ldquo;depends on the interests&rdquo; of the buyers, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of the sales process,&rdquo; McFarlan said, adding that a school might have different cleanup needs than a warehouse.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The closings resulted partly from federal clean-air rules requiring Midwest Generation to retrofit its plants. McFarlan said a bigger factor was the rise of natural gas production, which has put downward pressure on energy prices. &ldquo;We just can&rsquo;t run profitably,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129 Union loses close vote at Comcast facility in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/union-loses-close-vote-comcast-facility-chicago-87612 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-08/Dave_Webster.png" alt="" /><p><p>A union has narrowly lost a closely watched election among some Comcast workers in Chicago. They voted 92-79 against the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 21.<br> <br> Two days of balloting, which ended Wednesday, left 189 workers at Comcast’s facility in the Pullman area without collective bargaining. Those employees include installation technicians, maintenance technicians, warehouse workers and payment agents.<br> <br> “Our employees exercised their legal right to vote and decided not to unionize,” Comcast said in a statement. “We respect their decision.”<br> <br> This is IBEW’s third election defeat at the Pullman facility since 2003.<br> <br> Local 21 organizer Dave Webster said Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, ran an effective anti-union campaign. “They scared [the workers] about union dues and they made them think they wouldn’t be part of the big happy family anymore,” Webster said after the balloting.<br> <br> The vote, supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, had significance beyond the Pullman workers.<br> <br> “Comcast is a global employer and the telecommunications industry is growing,” said Robert Bruno, who directs the Labor Education Program at the University of Illinois. “If the IBEW is able to establish a beachhead, it could raise standards at the company. If that rippled through the industry, it would be the same dramatic impact that unions had in the car and steel industries and other manufacturing.”<br> <br> Nationwide, unions represent an estimated 2 percent of the Philadelphia-based company’s workforce. That’s apart from the media conglomerate NBCUniversal, in which Comcast acquired a majority stake this January.</p></p> Wed, 08 Jun 2011 22:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/union-loses-close-vote-comcast-facility-chicago-87612