IBEW 569 Member Voices - Doyle Mills' Rebuttal to KUSI - Unions Do Make a Difference

June 1, 2021

I was appalled on the morning of Friday, May 28th when I heard KUSI news personality Paul Rudy make a misinformed anti-union statement and then the rest of the KUSI Good Morning San Diego team chimed in agreeing with Mr. Rudy stating “name anyplace where unions make things better”.

Another example of misinformed journalists making statements about their opinion rather than the facts.

I belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569 for the past thirty years, and unions are in solidarity for stronger communities!

Our offices happen to be right next door to KUSI, and to my knowledge, KUSI has never reached out to IBEW 569 for our perspectives on unions, and yet I have watched over the years KUSI spouting anti-union propaganda over and over.  

Tens of thousands of local families have good jobs, quality healthcare, been able to buy a home, raise a family and educate their children, and retire in dignity - because of unions!

Additionally, IBEW 569 members and other unions have distributed food to thousands of local hungry families - during the pandemic the unions of the San Diego Labor Council have organized over 40 food distributions, feeding more than 60,000 families with 1.6 million pounds of food!!  And through our annual Rebuilding Together / Christmas in April program, hundreds of IBEW 569 members volunteer their skills and training to go out into the community to fix and upgrade electrical systems in homes of low-income families, including seniors and wounded veterans. 

Please, let’s not forget the thousands of young men and women we have educated in our apprenticeship programs at our Electrical Training Institute - apprentices and students that have gone on to get bachelors and masters degrees, and we have given them a high-quality trades education with college credits for free.  When I say thousands - I am speaking locally, not nationwide.

While our union Hall is next door to KUSI, just three buildings down on the other side of KUSI is our educational facility, the Electrical Training Institute, a state of the art building that has been there for over thirty years. There we offer free classes to our journeymen to upgrade their skills, and we train our apprentices and we get them jobs so they can earn while they learn. To accomplish this we have partnered with NECA (the National Electrical Contractors Association) - contractors and union members are united in paying for and delivering training of the next generation of electrical workers. 

IBEW 569 has the most highly trained and educated elecrical work force - that is equal to none.

Because of this, we do most of the big, complex construction jobs and projects. Non-union contractors bids are competitive with NECA unions contractors, but the difference is that most non-union contractors don’t pass any of their excess profit to their workers - instead they exploit their poor under-trained workers and keep more of their profits while leaving them with hardly no retirement and minimal health care.

So what is a collective bargaining group such as ours ask of our employees? Just three things, one: a living wage that supports the demographics for the area we live in, for example Bay Area electricians make higher wages than we do because of the cost of living and other factors, two: decent health care for us and our families, and three: a retirement pension plan that will support us in our old age, all reasonable request.

I cannot speak for all unions, maybe there are unions out there that are not as good, I don’t know of them.  

Unfortunately we seem to be depicted as a group right out of the 1950’s movie “On the Waterfront “.

In all of the trade unions I know of, including ours there is no seniority system, if your skills are lacking or you don’t show up you won’t work, because all we have to offer is our skill and knowledge.  Our vacations are determined by how long you can go without working because we have no vacation pay, we only get paid when we work.

With all due respect, I would wager that I personally and many others like me have given more to the community than the whole KUSI Morning Team will ever be able to duplicate. I have been involved in many projects building new schools and upgrading others such as UCSD, elementary schools community colleges and hospitals along with places like Qualcomm, Sony and Hewlit Packard to name a few, along with several power plants including solar and wind projects, which all contribute to our society - and for your information we go above and beyond on such projects especially schools and hospitals.

In closing I would like to say these are my personal observations and I do not want to offend. I am sure Mrs. Phinney is a great activist in the community, and I have met Francella the weather lady and her extremely nice husband at a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis - so point is we’re all just people, including union folks.

I would be glad to answer any questions you might have - and even arrange a tour of our training center and offices.

Thank you,

Doyle Mills

IBEW 569 Member