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The IBEW RENEW Conference was Packed –

RENEW 2015

Several hundred young workers gathered together in Chicago. Pure power in the room!

I was at the RENEW (Reach out and Engage Next-gen Electrical Workers) meeting  in an unofficial capacity on Sunday, Monday & today meeting up with scores of IBEW locals who have attended the Labor Rising programs.

General President Hill opened the conference addressing the future of the IBEW and commanding the room.

The first panel set the tone of the conference – speakers from IBEW locals 46, 111 & 134. They shared their stories of how they connected with the IBEW and the challenges they face in bringing the messages of unions to first their own respective membership, unorganized workers and the public including politicians.

The room of hundreds listened and left their phones sit as best they could. Sincere and passionate young IBEW members spoke to what is great about being in, and a part of a union.

I love being around the future. They where all asked a question by the moderator about challenges they face as young leaders bringing forth RENEW.

The 134 speaker had 2 responses – “not being taking serious” and his view of labor history as a worker.

The 111 speaker commented about our apprenticeship training being “the best kept secret” and if only young people knew?

The 46 speaker spoke to unions being “stereo-typed” and why it continues when there is increasing diversity of the membership.

What struck me is thru-out the first day of the conference, and according to the agenda for the next 2 days – very little attention will be paid to the structured use of social media, to address the challenges listed above and much more.

When Labor Rising Blogs about having a “powder keg” of social media power sitting dormant – this is exactly what we are talking about.

Is IBEW and Labor History, Labor Legislation, Common Sense Economics and Grassroots Campaigning important topics – YES!

HOWEVER, without the underlying structure of connecting the membership it stays only with those attending, and is hugely dependent on them relaying the message down the road and the manner in which they do it, if they do it!

Every one of those attending had a cell phone and some had a tab and/or Surface. All have cell numbers and emails. Had these cell numbers and emails been downloaded onto an Excel spreadsheet and shared with all the attendees – think of the possibilities.

Had all the attendees also been given a short code for a mass texting platform and some very basic instructions either in class or thru a training video attachment, the whole group “would” be connected literally right then and there.

Should those in attendance decide to link to all their IBEW members and grow that list, the numbers would grow exponentially.

So the panel is talking about the challenges they, and others face, and can start to a very high degree to address those challenges then!

The IBEW You-Tube channel has some of the best video messages of IBEW members doing all sorts of very good activities. You’ll notice very low views of these You Tubes especially in contrast to a membership of 750,00 plus. Erase the stereo-types Local 46, and share those to everyone in the room’s friends and family with a link in a mass text @ 2.5 cents each. Practice what this looks like and the minimum structure needed. BUT – it does need structure!!

Erase the “best kept secret” Local 111, and all locals, by showing what our apprenticeship do for the American & Canadian workers, their families and communities. Where are our You Tubes of our training programs? Where are the Blogs claiming authority over IBEW work?  Unions are irrelevant on Google in this and many other areas.

Want to see – Google “careers” or “jobs” as an electrician in whatever area you are from. Do you see even 1 listing for your apprenticeship program? Do you have multiple entries on the first page of the search results on Google/Bing? Apprenticeship is an arcane term and is seldom searched. Most likely you saw tech training centers, community colleges and hiring by contractors – they are relevant to the searches and we need to be too, to present ourselves and our best in class training to those looking.

The history and plight of workers in history and today Local 134 – share with the local membership, and beyond. So while members are waiting on whatever – they can view and appreciate their great history and share it to whomever.

This is the tip of the iceberg – Twitter – power to re-ignite labor into public policy matters. Connect all those in attendance and build from it, to the point that the IBEW sets the standard for the other locals and can literally overwhelm the Right to Work BS. Numbers beat MONEY – “if” they are structured and connected.

I see nothing but the pure untapped power of social signals, and in the space of 3 days can put a foundation in, in which to build from. Young workers get it – older, seasoned workers can drive it. Together we can get labor relevant to the American & Canadian worker and increase our numbers.

Don’t even get me started on cyber-organizing and powering our union contractors in the residential and service markets using technology.

“if you see a good fight IBEW – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Organizer
Labor Rising

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