Force 5 Fresh Breeze

This installment on the Lincoln Electric Co-op members uprising includes my becoming involved.  A broken back provided me with 3 months of orders not to work, not to lift anything over 10 pounds – so getting involved with old friends had an appeal.  The nice thing was that neither side treated me as disabled, despite the metal brace that was tastefully concealed by a 5X shirt from Abdul’s Tent and Awning Supplies.

As I look at the old issues, I realize the imperfections of memory – the back injury was in late September, but the May 23, 1988 Mountain Ear includes an article titled “Electrification Nepotism Nixed.”  The article follows:

“Craig Eaton livened up the Lincoln Electric board meeting on Monday May 16.  Eaton presented the board with letters, signed by about 40 people, expressing concern that the Co-op manager’s son-in-law had been hired despite LEC Policy bulletin #603, which states, “Employees delegated the authority to hire and fire personnel shall not employ relatives closer than the fourth degree.”  Miller’s son-in-law, Jody Harvey, was allegedly hired for the brush crew but being trained as a lineman. 

Although one of the letters suggested an immediate demand for Monk Miller’s resignation, the board took no action on the subject, accepting Miller’s assurances that he’d take care of the problem.  The son-in-law was no longer employed by the Lincoln Electric Co-op as of Tuesday, May 17.

Another item addressed by the complainants was the hiring of local people, as opposed to bringing in people from out of state.  The writers felt that some locals have the same abilities as the out of towners, and should be given an advantage in the hiring process.

Answering the accusation that “without a notice or advertisement in the local area, the manager seems to have found a position for his own son-in-law.”, Roger Pitman took the responsibility for hiring Harvey.”

On June 27, the Ear headlined “Lincoln Electric Has New Nepotism Policy”:

“The board of directors of the Lincoln Electric adopted a new nepotism policy.  This new policy is significantly different and more comprehensive than the previous nepotism policy.  The new policy prohibits the hiring of relatives (of management and supervisory employees) of the third degree and closer.  The new policy affects management and supervisory employees, while the old policy affected only employees with hiring authority.  The question of including all employees in the nepotism policy arose, but was argued against, with the reason stated that everyone in Eureka is related.  The new policy covers full time and seasonal employees.  More leniency has been granted to hire relatives, with the exclusion being changed from the 4th degree to 3rd degree or closer.”

The article ended with a sentence that seemed insignificant at the time: “It was recommended that the Pinkham Mt. Electronic site be abandoned in favor of Elk Mountain, and a site on state lands near Olney.”  Later, we would learn the significance of that recommendation.

The July 25 issue noted that “The board learned that L.E. has a verbal temporary permit from the Forest Service to the Elk Mountain site with the assurance of a permanent permit.  The L.E. has put in electric lines to the Elk Mountain site.  L.E. is expecting to have a permit for the Stillwater site next month.”

The second paragraph included “The board approved policy changes to policy 507 and 705.  The board discussed proposed policy #700.  Policy #700 will require the public to be on the agenda before being heard.  The policy appears to be in response to Craig Eaton’s appearance before the board last May.  Policy #506 deals with members appearances, requiring the board to take action after the members have left the meeting.  Board Chairman Charles Cope appeared to endorse this policy, indicating that a decision could be made in executive session.”

The article’s last sentence noted “Board member Dave Curtiss resigned.”

On September 5, the headline was “REA Manager to Retire.” 

“Melvin ‘Monk’ Miller, manager for Lincoln Electric and InterBel Telephone Cooperatives plans to retire June 11, 1989.  Miller, after his retirement will remain in Eureka for two years to serve as a consultant to the cooperatives.  Miller, in his role as consultant, will be available for consultation, information and advise in regard to the cooperative, but will have no managerial or duties to the cooperatives.  Miller during the two year period will receive his regular salary as fixed in June 11, 1989 with Lincoln Electric and InterBel each being responsible for one year’s salary.

Next installment:  Force 6: Strong Breeze – Large branches in motion, telegraph wires “sing.”  Umbrellas used with difficulty

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