February 2010

IBEW Wins More Than $20 Million in
Green Jobs Training Grants
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IBEW members throughout the United States are among those who will benefit from the announcement on Jan. 6 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis of the release of nearly $100 million in renewable energy training grants.

"These grants will allow the IBEW and our industry partners to continue to lead the way in high-quality green training programs in areas like solar, wind and building automation," said International President Edwin D. Hill.

For Montana Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee Training Director Gary Pemble, supporting existing labor-management partnerships, which are already training new workers in renewable energy, makes a lot of sense on the part of federal officials. "Union apprenticeship programs have been proven time and time again to be more cost effective, have better instructors and a stronger curriculum and unlike many colleges, we get our students out on the job site starting on the first day of training."

The Montana JATC, along with a wide array of union-training centers, including bricklayers, electricians and sheet metal workers, won a $5 million grant to boost training in wind, solar and hydro power to help green the Big Sky Country and put residents back to work. The JATC represents Helena Local 233, Billings Local 532 and Kalispell Local 768.

"Renewable energy is changing the trades really fast," Pemble said. "This will help us meet the needs of a newly developing energy economy."

More than 1,000 IBEW members in Montana—both journeymen and apprentices—will benefit from the green training programs funded by the grant. "It allows us to retool our existing work force while opening up new opportunities for those new to the trade," said Pemble.

The grants are part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed last year to help stimulate the economy.

The announcement came as exciting news for the diverse range of green energy advocates, training programs, labor unions, and community organizations that were among the 25 recipients of the grants.

The Austin Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee—representing Local 520—was awarded $4.8 million to train electrical workers throughout the state in solar technology.

"Electricians are hungry for new skills and this grant will make it possible," said Austin JATC Training Director Gilbert Ferrales.

The Austin JATC has been training workers to install and maintain solar panels since 2008, but this new grant will allow the center to train more than 1,000 workers—both experienced journeymen and workers new to the trade—by next year.

The grant money will fund the establishment of a train-the-trainer program for IBEW members from throughout the southwest to come to Austin to learn how to instruct their own members in the basics of solar installation.

The IBEW in California has taken the lead in green energy training for years, so it's no surprise that the state's Labor Management Cooperation Committee—a joint partnership between the IBEW and union contractors—won a $5 million grant to train workers in building automation and advanced lighting controls.

"Lighting controls are the biggest single opportunity to save energy," said Bernie Kotlier, director of green energy solutions for the LMCC.

More than 2,000 IBEW members in the Golden State are expected to be trained in setting up everything from motion detectors to automatic dimmable lights that react to natural daylight to help commercial buildings cut down on wasted energy.

The IBEW had been working with major utilities throughout California in training workers in these technologies for more than a year now, so the grant is a natural fit, said Kotlier. "The Labor Department was looking to support existing broad-based partnerships that brought together labor and employers, so th e LMCC is a perfect choice."

Other union training partnerships that received grants include:

  • SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress Inc., a Michigan partnership that includes green activists, the IBEW, the Laborers and local work force development boards, was awarded more than $4 million to increase job training opportunities in alternative energy.

  • The Ohio Electrical Labor Management Cooperative Committee, a partnership of the IBEW, NECA and local community colleges, was awarded nearly $5 million to put those affected by layoffs in the auto industry back to work in green jobs.

  • Labor's Community Action, Inc., a Colorado partnership of Denver Local 68, NECA and the Denver Office of Economic Development was awarded more than $3 million to help state residents find work in the green energy industry.

Thousands of IBEW members from the Midwest to the West Coast will receive training in the latest renewable energy technologies thanks to the $100 million green-training grant issued by the Labor Department.