by Emil Meyer
Local Union # 614, IBEW
Late yesterday afternoon I was provided with a copy of your article, “Important issues pondered in cold and dark last week” (Nov. 8). I was especially impressed with your appreciation of the heroic and dedicated work ethic of the PECO linemen you encountered and your empathy for the severe conditions they must oft-times endure as they go about their restoration duties. Your public expression of gratitude is most appreciated.
That being said, I feel it is my duty to advise you that those PECO linemen who came to the aid of you and your neighbors are proud members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 614, which in fact represents all trades, crafts and clerical positions within PECO Energy, Exelon Power and Veolia Energy. I regret that your experience with the “out of town” call taker was not satisfactory, but staffing for storms or routine staffing, for that matter, is not within the union’s control. It is a management prerogative.
In articulating your disdain for unions in general and those individuals who make up their membership in particular, I would respectfully suggest, in light of your recent personal experience, that it is a grave error to paint any group or organization with too wide a brush. For as you have discovered and readily intimated those individual LU 614 members who came to the aid of you and your neighbors in your time of need were apparently motivated by something other than ordinary monetary compensation.
Before I attempt to address the questions you raised further along in your
Commentary, please allow me on behalf of Local 614, whose members are still participating in the continued storm restoration effort, to express our deeply felt gratitude to IBEW, LU 15 members from sister utility ComEd. who volunteered to leave their families in Chicago and assist in this effort.
We are also grateful to our Brothers in IBEW, LU 126 who routinely work with us on the PECO System. I would also like to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation for the assistance, safe work practices and professionalism that we at Local 614 have come to depend upon from our all of our Brothers in the various construction and trade unions throughout the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area. All of them work along with us, in various capacities, on a daily basis to support and provide the vital services that society has come to depend upon and that once interrupted cannot long exist in this modern and technological age.
Although I cannot speak for everyone who is driven by a belief system that as yet, by your own admission, you are unable to understand or perhaps missed, I’ll try to share through my own 40+ years of living and working “in the field” with the men who consider themselves a “Band of Brothers” as to what I believe is the motive force that propels such men, no matter their talents, station in life or lack thereof to seemingly heroic action on behalf of others.
I would humbly suggest that somewhere, sometime, in their early formative years they discovered through experience the joy and satisfaction of providing and selflessly sharing with society something of lasting value. Each has received varying talents according to our Maker’s will, yet it matters not whether we have been gifted to produce a well crafted article or sublime poetry, for all that is true, noble and eternal is to be found not in the end of the effort but in the effort employed. Many times we fail to realize that contained therein is an act of true love, that is, the act of putting aside one’s own comfort and desires to meet some other person’s immediate needs.
You were a partaker of that spirit when you offered one of our weary members your couch for the evening. Although he declined, the offer was certainly
appreciated, and for that act of contemplated kindness toward our member I personally thank you. There are other opportunities to share and experience the joy of giving, and you won’t have to endure “frozen fingers.” They could use some extra hands in Ocean Port, NJ, to distribute aid to the folks who have lost it all. The aid is supplied. You are the gift.
One final comment: on a level playing field it is all of society, not a self-appointed chosen few, that determine whether our chosen professions should provide a form of compensation to enable us to continue on in society’s service. The desire to provide for ourselves and our families’ needs and comfort while in that service is nothing to be ashamed of or to avoid.
For after all, is it not written that “A workman is worthy of his wages” and in another place “Do not bind the mouth of the ox that grinds your grain”? Although one can argue both sides of that teaching, it is the motive in one’s heart as he/she executes his/her duties that will determine whether or not one hears, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.” This is what I personally struggle with on a daily basis. Hopefully you do too. Hopefully we all do. It’s the one thing that will make this world a better place.