Former BM Joel Barton steps down effective immediately
By Grant Slater
Robert Corona has taken the reins of IBEW Local 11 after Joël Barton submitted his resignation to the Local’s Executive Board in a Special Called Meeting on Thursday, December 14.
The board voted to appoint Corona to take control of the Local’s day-to-day operations as Business Manager and Financial Secretary from Barton, who has served in those positions since his election in June 2018.
After the vote, Corona was immediately sworn in by Board Chairman John Harriel in a ceremony witnessed by IBEW International Representative Billy Powell.
Corona will lead the organization through elections in June 2024 when membership will vote on candidates to fill the position. He is only the third Business Manager to helm IBEW 11 in the 21st century and the first person of color to hold the position.
“I am humbled. I’m honored,” Corona told members of IBEW 11’s senior and clerical staff at a luncheon the day after his appointment. “I’ve had the privilege to work under two different Business Managers. And I’ve seen both styles and I hope to bring the best of what both of them had.”
Barton succeeded Business Manager Marvin Kropke in 2018.
Barton came out of retirement to lead the Local through the throes of an international pandemic. In 2018, after his election, Barton appointed Corona as his deputy and Corona has served in that capacity as Senior Assistant Business Manager and Director of Organizing throughout Barton’s tenure.
“It’s been one heck of a roll,” Barton said. “I couldn’t have turned the Local over to a better person. Robert Corona is going to do a great job. I’ve known him a long time. 20 years ago, he was my boss. Then it worked out that I was his boss. And now he’s my boss again.”
The move had been under discussion for many months and Barton decided that now was the time to do it.
John Harriel, the chairman of IBEW 11’s Executive Board, supports the changing of the guard. He has known and worked with Corona for many years and has great respect for his leadership ability.
Harriel met Corona in the very first days of his apprenticeship, when Corona taught him as a first-year instructor in a class that also included Corona’s brother Luis.
Harriel said Barton called a Special Called Meeting of the Executive Board on Thursday at 5 p.m. At that meeting Barton resigned with one condition: that Corona be named his successor.
“Joël deserves a lot of respect for giving Robert, not only the reins to being a Business Manager, but also giving him an opportunity to build his team for 2024 for the election.”
Robert Corona joined IBEW Local 11 in 1991 after serving four years in the Air Force and working for two years as a shop steward in the refineries before he applied for the apprenticeship as an Inside Wireman electrician. He moved into his role as an Organizer with IBEW 11 in 1998.
“In my 32 years of service and membership, I have performed in many roles and capacities,” Corona said. “I am humbled and honored to take on this new duty and responsibility and will do so with all the moral earnestness and passion that you, the membership, deserve.”