Electrical Workers Local 280 elects Tim Nicol as business manager

Last month, members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 280 voted new leaders into union office.

Local 280, headquartered in Tangent, Oregon, just east of Corvallis, has 1,068 members in the electrical construction industry, and a jurisdiction that runs from Woodburn to Cottage Grove and from the Cascade Range to Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties in Central Oregon.

For business manager — the local’s top office — Local 280’s former political director Tim Nicol won 57 percent of the votes cast, out-polling incumbent Dennis Caster and two other candidates. At Local 280 as in many unions, business manager is the one elected office that’s also a full-time paid position.

In the race for Local 280 president, Jerry Fletcher, a current Examining Board member, beat Mike Spade, the current vice president. For vice president, Drew Lindsey won in a runoff, after he and Arnold Langendoerfer were the top two of three candidates in the first round. Running unopposed were Tommy Paul for recording secretary and Dave Baker for treasurer. Members also elected Steve Bebout, Mike Davis and Wayne Lathrop to the Executive Board; Julie Emmit, Cory Miller and Mike Sliper to the Examining Board; and Jerry Fletcher, Rich Lofton and Tommy Paul as delegates to the IBEW international convention.

The new officers will be sworn in July 20 and take office July 21. All terms are three years.

Turnout topped 42 percent. The election was conducted by mail, with the first round of ballots counted June 7, and the runoff June 28.

Incoming business manager Nicol, 53, grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where both his parents worked as union factory workers. Nicol became an IBEW member in 1971, and after a four-year apprenticeship with IBEW Local 150 in Northern Illinois, moved to Junction City, Oregon, where his wife’s family lived. For 11 years, he was on the road as a traveling journeyman electrician, taking short-term jobs wherever there was union electrical construction work — and attending local union meetings wherever he went. In 1986 he transferred his membership to Local 280. At the invitation of business manager Al Reddig, he ran for union office and won election as Local 280 Executive Board member and then vice president, serving one term each.

In 1998, then-business manager Steve Rose hired Nicol to work on building code enforcement. Local 280 faced competition from renegade contractors using unlicensed electricians, Nicol said. He soon found that filing complaints with state enforcers wasn’t enough, and began to lobby the Oregon Legislature for tougher rules. That work prompted the local to draft Nicol as a political coordinator. In the 2004 general election, he helped IBEW Local 280 achieve 92 percent voter turnout, among the highest of any union in the state.

Nicol's priority, he said, is “providing more communication to members, so they can make the decision whether they want to get involved.”

“Apathy is our biggest enemy,” Nicol said.