Music City Gets a Makeover with the Help of IBEW Members
June 5, 2012
When one thinks of Nashville, Tenn., country music probably comes to mind. But the city known for launching thousands of music careers also relies heavily on revenue from the 350,000 annual visitors that flock to conventions and business meetings. Now, more than 185 members of Local 429 are helping the build Nashville’s massive new convention hall, Music City Center. The 1.2-million-square-foot facility is part of a greater downtown revitalization, stimulating local job growth, increasing tax revenue and transforming the city into a top business destination in the U.S.
IBEW members are performing all the electrical work on the state-of-the-art facility, including voice, video, data, security, distribution, lighting and rooftop solar panels, installing 13,500 light fixtures, 21,000 linear feet of track lighting and more than a mile of electric partitions. When complete in the spring of 2013, Music City Center will more than double Nashville’s meeting and exhibit space.
The project has been a boon for the local, which was staring at 25 percent unemployment. But Robert Emery Jr., who was business manager when the job started in 2010, and Grant were determined to regain market share and put members back to work.
“The recession hit central Tennessee hard. Local nonunion contractors were making it difficult for the IBEW to compete. We knew we needed to figure out a way to get the work back,” said Emery.
The membership voted to cut $2 per hour off their pension contributions and lower shift differentials. In exchange for the $700,000 sacrificed, said Emery, signatory contractor Conti Electric and IBEW members earned back a total of $9.5 million in wages and benefits.
“Landing the Music City Center project helped us get additional work at the Nashville Arena and Omni Hotel, which is attached to the convention center,” said Grant.
Those jobs restored the full pension contribution and shift differentials.
Last summer, IBEW International President Hill made a special stop at the Music City Center construction site.
“It’s great to see our members working on a job of this magnitude and visibility,” Hill said. “The IBEW looks forward to continued contributions to the success of Nashville.”