About the National Sisterhood United For Journeymen Linemen
On January 26, 2012, a small group of women from the “IBEW Wives” Facebook group banded together with an idea of having a basket raffle to help raise funds for the family of John Plante, a Journeymen Linemen out of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 104, who had been tragically killed on the job. Searches for non-profit organizations to donate the funds to returned with no results. It was frustrating to them, wanting to participate in fundraising for the grieving families, that not
one charity existed for linemen. The dangers surrounding this profession are abundant and this was the fire that lit NSUJL’s Mission.
Taking on what turned out to be months of legalities that appeared never ending, they carried on. With no startup money, the original officers, directors, and members, very passionate and determined to help families, all donated from their own pockets to fund the “startup” expenses. When NSUJL officially became a membership organization in April of 2012, those funds helped assist our ability to pay the $850 IRS filing fee and $500 for the accountant to fill out NSUJL’s tax exempt form 1023. The next major expense was the required Directors and Officers Insurance of $1400. Unable to even consider paying it all upfront, they spread these payments over the course of a few months just barely scraping together the funds to do so.
While the legalities were underway, the operations started to take shape. Back then, donations to families consisted of officers, directors and members donating from their own pockets. Sending a $300 check to a family seemed like the most amazing thing they could ever do. Little did they know, things were about to change.
March 8, 2012, with a membership total of only 21 members, the first board of directors were appointed. Time consuming does not begin to describe the dedication the members had. Board meetings were on a weekly basis and 2-3 hours long. They voted on every minute detail of the organization, down to the name. All of them steadily worked 40+ volunteer hours a week not only to finalize everything just to be considered a legal organization, but also staying feverishly determined to stay focused on the goal of helping families.
The next major task was to contact all outside IBEW Locals in the country to gain their support. On March 21, 2012, they received the first donation from IBEW local 222 in FL. Tears of joy and pride overcame the membership and it became just that extra lift in their step to carry on. The response from the IBEW didn’t stop there. Local after local called, sent letters of support and then donations came rolling in from then on.
May 9, 2012, the call of a lifetime came from Ed Mings. He was an International Representative of the IBEW’s International office in Washington, DC. They had done it. The IBEW International welcomed the NSUJL with open arms. Two of NSUJL’s founding members, Rae Johnson and Terry Riffe, attended NSUJL’s first IBEW Conference in July of 2012.
In Oct 2012, IBEW International President Ed Hill issued a letter recommending all IBEW locals help support and contribute to NSUJL. The response from the IBEW was only the beginning of the support. The NSUJL officers and directors also began contacting companies to donate products that they could take to rodeos to help raise funds through basket giveaways.
The first major companies to sign on and support NSUJL were Tyndale, Bashlin Industries and Farwest Line Specialties. Those 3 remain NSUJL’s largest sponsors still today. Since, several other companies such as Service Electric, Hubbell, Buckingham, Linemen’s Supply, Valiant and many others have supported NSUJL and the mission. Continuing with the goals, IBEW locals themselves started to sign on as Associate Members. The first being local 1439, shortly afterwards followed by locals 47, 53, 55, 71, 220, 222, 304, 369, 738, 769, 1002, 1245, 1393 and 2150.
In January 2013, just before the 1-year anniversary of NSUJL, the IRS Approved NSUJL’s 501(c)(3) status. Backdating it to Feb 29th 2012, the day the Articles of Incorporation were filed in PA, this being the beginning of the endless opportunities to work on.
In May of 2014, shortly after the 2-year anniversary of NSUJL, they welcomed the first IBEW representatives as board members who brought with them a combined 123 years of IBEW experience and management.
Today, because of the wonderful support of the IBEW, numerous companies, and our members the NSUJL is able to continue holding our annual Climbing for Lost Linemen ceremony and Linemen Benefit Rodeo every June in PA. In addition to the amazing support we receive, we are also very grateful that we are invited to many events, conferences and other Lineman rodeos across the nation.