THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS
We are a Union representing over 1,400 Signals and Communications employees throughout Canada. Our members work on railroad signal systems to improve the safety and efficiency of their operation.
We represent the workers who install and maintain signals and trackside equipment for most of the nation’s railroads. Automatic signals and switches installed and maintained by our members allow railroads to move large numbers of freight and passenger trains at higher speed and with great safety. Our members also install and maintain the warning systems used at railroad-highway crossings, which play a vital role in ensuring the safety of highway travelers.
Some Signals and Communications workers work on construction, installing or upgrading systems or making major repairs, as well as perform maintenance and inspection of the equipment after installation.
Signals and Communications employees inspect and maintain the equipment on a regular schedule, using special test equipment to check mechanical devices and the sophisticated electrical and electronic devices used in modern signal systems. If there is a problem with the signal system, trains can be delayed and Signal and Communication workers are called on to make repairs and restore safe operation of the railroad. Railroads operate 24/7, so Signal and Communication workers are called on to work at all hours of the day and night, in all kinds of weather.
Signals and Communications workers learn their craft through on-the-job experience and formal apprentice training programs. They are schooled in stringent federal regulations which govern railroad signal and railroad operations, electricity, electronics, and mechanics. After serving an apprenticeship, employees attain maintainer status. Many employees also receive training in computer technology and the increasingly sophisticated electronic circuitry used in today’s signal systems.
On the communication side, our Technicians are a diverse group. They aid the Signal Maintainers with such equipment as Hot Box Detectors, Crossing warning systems, Automatic Equipment Identifiers, Radio Towers, Fibre Optics, Two Way Radio Equipment installation and in many other areas.
Our Technicians, much like our Maintainers, are required to be on 24 hour call and work alone in most cases to maintain electronic safety and non-safety critical devices.
The Canadian Signals and Communications System Council No.11 is structured like many unions, with local unions of members who work for a particular railroad, or in the case of large railroads, on a particular division of the railroad. Locals elect officers and representatives, establish bylaws and meet regularly to consider grievances, initiate new members and other local business.
Locals also elect delegates to represent them at the Union’s convention. Delegates set union policy, review the general condition of the union, and establish collective bargaining goals. Delegates also elect the General Chairmen, who directs the operation of the union between conventions.
Steve Martin currently serves as the Senior General Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer of IBEW System Council 11. He was elected at the 2014 convention. Lee Hooper serves a General Chairman. He was elected by the union’s executive committee in October 2015 to replace retired General Chairman Brian Strong.