Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MLGW Union Members Start Charitable Fund

Another example of MLGW employees giving back in today's Commercial Appeal...

Union charitable fund honors Jonnie Dawson

Most of Jonnie Dawson's time on Earth was spent serving others, so when she died of an aneurysm in 2008, her colleagues wanted to honor her memory.

They knew that 64-year-old Dawson, who began her nearly 30-year career at Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division as a key-punch operator and ended as an assistant business manager for the public utility's union, often donated her earnings to help abused women. She also devoted a great deal of time to improving working conditions at MLGW.

"She was one that believed in donating to charities," said her former boss, Rick Thompson, business manager of IBEW Local 1288. "She was a real outgoing person, and she always tried to help."

So when it came time for contract negotiations last January, Thompson and others negotiated a deal with MLGW to allow employees to donate part of their earnings to the IBEW Jonnie Dawson Charitable Foundation fund.

"They don't make very much money, but they believe in giving to the charitable foundation so we can give back to the community," Thompson said.

Payroll deductions began in May, and a first round of quarterly awards went to five local nonprofit organizations during a holiday dinner in December.

Representatives from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, the Mid-South Food Bank, the YWCA and the Memphis and Shelby County Community Services Agency (CSA) all received checks for $5,000.

Another round of checks will be distributed in the spring, although Thompson won't know who the recipients are until a vote takes place.

"I (will) bring it to the board, and the board will bring it to the membership," he said.

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