March 2010

From the Officers
index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to
IBEW at Fulcrum of Nuclear Revival

It's more than fitting that President Barack Obama chose Local 26's apprenticeship training center outside of Washington, D.C., to deliver the exciting news on Feb. 16 that he was approving billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first to be built in the U.S. in three decades.

Since the late 1980s, more than 300 members of Atlanta Local 84 have operated two reactors at the Plant Vogtle nuclear facility adjacent to a site that was cleared last year for the new ones. The diligence, responsibility, productivity and respect for safety of the existing work force provide a strong template for the new members who will be hired to bring the reactors online. But this news sweeps in a much broader spectrum of the work force.

The IBEW joined other building and construction trades picketing the site after a nonunion contractor was awarded the preparation work. Because of our activism, the trades are on the cusp of signing a project labor agreement with the Southern Company that will put thousands of union construction workers to work building the reactors once they are approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

As you can see from the front page story of this issue, the IBEW is involved in all phases of the push toward a greener energy future, and we believe that nuclear power is a crucial part of the mix. Nuclear has its critics who are already saying that massive cost overruns will lead to default on loans, or that safety and operational problems could put us in greater peril.

These critics don't know the IBEW. They don't know the exemplary performance of thousands of members in nuclear plants and construction sites across the nation. They will soon. Brothers and sisters, we have brought huge construction projects in on time and under budget in every corner of our continent. Our charge is to match that pursuit of excellence in all aspects of the Georgia project. Our union has taken decisive steps with our partners in industry and academia to establish new nuclear training programs to replace thousands of our most skilled workers who are nearing retirement. Our success at Plant Vogtle will be measured by the yardsticks of a swift learning curve and a bold, timely and safe startup.

Getting people back to work will be done not in one fell swoop but in many smaller actions. The loan guarantees are an important step forward for both a sensible energy policy and jobs.


Also: Lee: Stimulus double talk

Edwin D. Hill
International President