Every year on Labor Day, IBEW Local 11 makes its presence known in the most immediate way possible: with the shirts on their backs.
Hundreds of IBEW Local 11 members and families wear a T-shirt sending the strongest message possible about what’s most important at the annual Labor Day parade and rally in Wilmington.
This year, it’s “No on Prop. 32.” The front of the shirt salutes Labor Day, and the back shows a huge “32” with a blaring red circle and X through it. There is an all out effort to defeat the initiative so deceptive that the LA Times calls it “The Fraud to end all frauds.”
Prop. 32, a state ballot initiative, aims to kill union political power by banning union activism in politics. This is the activism that won all workers the 8-hour day, overtime, weekends, unemployment insurance, Social Security, pensions and safety on the job. Anti-union special interests are pushing this ballot measure—and unions are fighting back. “While Labor is outspent 15-1 on campaign spending, the same people who tanked the economy want to make it 15-0”, said Tommy Faavae IBEW 11 organizer.
On Labor Day, Sept. 3, thousands of union members, including several hundred from IBEW Local 11, marched in the streets of Wilmington covered with “No on 32” stickers, buttons, banners and shirts. They gave their opponents a wake-up call on Labor Day: Unions are alive, well and ready to fight.
The Same Enemies Are Back
“This is nothing new,” says IBEW Local 11 Business Manager Marvin Kropke about Prop. 32. California voters have defeated two similar measures in years past. “This is another attempt to take away the voice and the rights of workers. It’s the same ultra-conservative people, putting new clothes on it. If this passes, the rich will gain, and the working class will lose.”
Nearby, James Orellana and his family were getting ready to march. Orellana is a fourth-year IBEW Local 11 apprentice currently working at the Haynes Power Plant in Long Beach. “We support the union,” Orellana says. “To give 100 percent, you’ve got to get involved.”
Orellana brought his family with him, including sons Andrew and James Jr. His own father was an electrician, and now he is continuing the tradition. “My IBEW training means everything to me,” he says. “This is the professional way, this is the educated way, to become an electrician.”
But Prop. 32 is threatening all that. Promoters of Prop. 32 will even try to strike at the well-respected, longtime union apprenticeship programs.
They Won’t Tear Us Down
The marchers assembled at Broad and E Streets, and started their mile-long walk to the rally at Banning Park. Along the way, thousands of other union members from teachers to Teamsters joined in.
The IBEW Local 11 group even included IBEW electricians from around the country. Ivan DeHerrera, a 32-year journeyman with Local 11, put out the word to welcome more IBEW members. He walked with two who had driven 300 miles from Fresno. And three more men joined them: Robert Long of Alabama, Doyle Henderson of Texas and Rick Hughes of Shreveport, Louisiana.
“Thanks to unions, we have better conditions in the workplace,” DeHerrera said. “We have our rights, and that’s not just for us. That’s for everyone who goes out on a job.”
He said it’s important for Local 11 members to take their destiny in their hands, and work to defeat Prop. 32. “If this is not in your heart now, we won’t have anything later. We won’t be bailed out like the banks.”
As the IBEW 11 marchers entered Banning Park, their white shirts with the bold red symbols filled a large section of the grounds. Members lined up to grab iced bottles of water and eat barbecued chicken and ribs. And as they sat at picnic tables with their brothers, sisters and families, they worked on the next steps to fight Prop. 32.
“This is an anti-worker effort to wear us down,” said Jane Templin, IBEW Local 11 vice president. “Well, they’re not going to wear us down. There is more and more awareness. The communities are mobilizing.”
The Call to Action
Get involved, IBEW 11 members are on target to put in more than 700 shifts to defeat this deceptive initiative. Phone banks are starting on September 11 at the Pasadena office and will be operating every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday starting at 4:30 PM through the November 6th election. The office is located at 297 N Marengo Ave., 3rd floor in Pasadena. For more info call Gary Parker at (323) 879-1226
To check if you are registered to vote, go to: