WAS A GUTSY RETIREE & WW2 VET WHO BATTLED NV ENERGY OVER MEDICAL BENEFITS
Sylvester Kelley, better known as Kelley by those who worked with him, was a man who spent his career working in the electrical trade for 40 years.
He was a man of great convictions, passion, safety driven who always said, he would not ask a man to do anything he would not do himself.
Sylvester, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, has a very interesting history. He started his apprenticeship in the late 40s and after moving to Carson City in 1951, was promoted to lineman four years before 1245 affiliated with the AFL/CIO.
He worked his way up through the ranks and eventually was promoted to working foreman and assigned to Lake Tahoe around 1961.
He married in 1945, the same year Sierra Pacific Power Organized with the IBEW Local 1245, a California based electrical union.
One year later, in 1946, his son was born who later became an electrical worker and union member and retired from Local 396.
His years In the Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Minden Gardnerville and surrounding areas were extensive. He was instrumental in helping rebuild and restore power after a number of destructive range fires, such as Kingsbury, Genoa and the Lake View fires just to name a few.
I met Sylvester in the early 1980s on the Lakeview fire and remember how everything was centered around safety first. He was also very instrumental in the reroute of the 14400 overhead to underground from Al Tahoe to Stateline.
During his career, he witnessed crews consisting of foreman, truck driver, equipment operator, up to three linemen and an apprentice dwindle to as small as three man crews.
People who worked with him could tell you he had a hand in most of the overhead and underground construction in this part of Northern Nevada.
Many of us retirees
have fond memories of working for and alongside of Sylvester. He was a
man who for many was a lifelong friend, mentor and brother; Sylvester
Kelly held an IBEW Union card for 63 years. Long after he retired, he
continued paying his dues. I believe he felt it was his way of giving
back for all the Union did for him, even after he had retired. Many of
the old timers still pay Union dues to this day. The newly organized retiree
chapters have encouraged several to take honorary retirements to help
them cope with their living expenses in their retirement.
Years after his
retirement, Sylvester stood up to NVEnergy to help defend the retirees'
medical benefits for all retirees. Last year, Sylvester Kelley became
heavily involved in the union's campaign to defend retiree medical benefits
at the statewide utility.
The last meeting he was able to attend was in February, 2011. During the Pledge of Allegiance, it was obvious how weak and frail he had become.
He could not stand. I can only imagine how this made this proud man feel.
After all the business took place and the meeting was wrapping up, I remember Sylvester saying he had something he wanted to say to the group. He stated that the company is not the same company he and many others helped build and eventually retire from.
The new company attacked these dedicated workers benefits long after retirement. This action affected those who no longer have the strength or the resources to just jump back into the workforce. He said to us all there that day that we needed to continue the fight with NVEnergy and take it to the end.
When Sylvester thought he was right in any subject, he would stand by his convictions until he was successful, or he was proven wrong!
He was always a man of respect; do to others as you would want them do to you and be a man of truth. These traits in him were evident to me in the many ways he fought to get back on his feet right to the end. Last year, Sylvester became involved, with a little arm bending in a big way, in the retirees' chapter.
The Union asked if Sylvester would be interested in helping with a campaign to defend retiree benefits, Kelly couldnt say yes quickly enough. His fire was already burning. He was featured in a full page newspaper ad throughout the state. He also was featured on a 60-second TV spot where he told his compelling story of service and sacrifice.
Over the next
several days, Local 1245 will feature the 2010 interviews with Brother
Kelly in six video installments in their media
We organized in September of 2009, nominated officers in January of 2010, elected officers in February, and affiliated with the ARA/NARA in June of 2010.
We have since then organized and started another chapter in Yerington and are in process of affiliating with ARA/NARA as we speak. There also is interest in the Carson City area for a third chapter.
The Carson area is Sylvesters old stomping grounds and I am sure if Sylvester was still with us he would want to be right in the middle of it.
Because of the environment and hard challenges before us, such as preserving our Social Security, Medicare and Veterans Administration, to name a few, along with attacks on our retirement benefits, my fire is lite for all retirees, people as good and right as Sylvester was.
Evelyn, Arny, family and friends, I am speaking not only for myself, but on behalf of Local 1245, its leadership, brothers and sisters of Local 1245 IBEW Union and retirees, the AFL/CIO state affiliation and NARA.
Sylvester was and will continue to inspire us all.
It is Union members like him, and his dedication that should inspire all Union members to try and reach his level of dedication.
Kelley, you always will be an extraordinary brother to me. It was my good fortune to have known you, journey beside you until we meet again, in unity and solidarity, and united we stand, and God we trust, we leave you.
My Admiration. My condolences My respects. Let us all realize Mr. Kelley memorializes labor's fact of life: UNTIL THE STRUGGLE IS WON, THE STRUGGLE GOES ON. May that effort and fortitude illuminate and resonate in all our battles. Paul L. DePierro, VP, Paradise Democratic Club; Member, Teamsters 631- Las Vegas, Nevada.
of famers give the boss the finger
NV ENERGY WORKERS FILE FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST UTILITY
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