Texas: Brothers and Sisters to the Rescue

  • Texas IBEW Office Destroyed by Hurricane Ike Scheduled for New Building

  • Eschewing Government Loans, IBEW 527 Emerges With A New Facility

By Beth I. Gandelman
Union Web Services

Galveston, TX –The office of IBEW 527 ,destroyed completely by Hurricane Ike in September 2008, is scheduled for rebuilding in 2010 by 100 percent union labor. According to Business Manager Sam Marullo, both buildings and the contents were “wiped out” and the union lost everything, including the computers, copiers, telephone system, furniture and most everything in the office.

“The building was knocked down completely because it wasn’t worth repairing. Our temporary office is in Texas City,” said Marullo. “None of us were allowed to remain on the island (Galveston). We had to evacuate. We took very little with us. It was the first time in 103 years that something this tragic happened here.” But the small staff of seven worked tirelessly to keep Local 527 up and running throughout the disaster to continue representing their 435 members.

Starting next month, Local 527 is planning to break ground for a larger, new building with 8,000 sq. ft. on one floor, built above ground level with a garage underneath. Fortunately, the union management had the foresight to begin collecting funds in the early 1980’s earmarked for a building fund. Before Hurricane Ike, the Union’s credit union and apprenticeship program were housed in a small building behind the union offices. The new building will enable them to be all together. They anticipate the new building to cost about $1.5 million.

“The bridge leading to Galveston was totally underwater and all the businesses scrambled to find new space. We’ve been in a smaller space—stepping on each other’s toes here,” Marullo said. “Galveston is finally getting back on its feet.”

Marullo is proud that they “never needed to ask for a handout. “Those who could donate supplies did so without being asked. “We hope to complete the only building that’s 100% union in Galveston in many years. Bids are coming in this spring and we can do this without government loans. “

With Hurricane Katrina causing greater devastation and occurring prior to Ike, the news media gave so much publicity to Katrina, there was barely any coverage of Ike, according to Marullo. Though it was a disaster overall, Hurricane Ike created the need for rebuilding, and thus more electricians. His union workers fared well following the hurricane, though at a tremendous cost , measured in the 112 lives and damages estimated at an astronomical $27B.

“I hope we never go through anything like this again,” said Marullo. “It was back to business as usual even when we had to start all over. We put in long hours operating on cell phones. The union business operations never ceased. We’ll do fine on our own (rebuilding). I’m grateful to our staff and those who helped out without us even asking.”

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