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September 2015

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Canadian Government, Industry Join IBEW to
Promote Women in Trades

Go to any IBEW conference, rally or gathering of activists, and you'll frequently see a popular slogan on T-shirts and bumper stickers: "A woman's place is in her union."

In Canada, that sentiment is growing stronger, thanks to a new nationwide initiative.

The IBEW has joined a coalition of government, industry and academic partners to launch Connected Women — a mentorship program tailored to women looking to enter or advance in the trades and other non-traditional occupations.

Women make up less than one quarter of the electrical workforce, and less than 5 percent of those are in trade occupations. Connected Women will help address this gap, especially at a time when the utility industry is facing down looming retirements and will need to shore up its ranks.

The new program takes its cues from a recently-completed research project called Bridging the Gap. The project's contributors examined the reasons why women say they feel successful in the profession and identified roadblocks to career advancement. The final Bridging the Gap report states that having mentors in the trade can make the difference for female electrical workers.

"There are significant barriers to the recruitment and retention of women in the trade, including isolation, physical demands and the challenge of working in an all-male environment," said Halifax, Nova Scotia, Local 1928 Assistant Business Manager Andrea McQuillan, who is a power line technician. "Over time, this project will provide significant benefits and training opportunities for women."

Connected Women is funded by Status of Women Canada, a government initiative focusing on issues such as career advancement, leadership and economic security. Connected Women's first cohort features graduates of Algonquin College's Women in Electrical Engineering Technology program in Ottawa. As the pilot group of mentees, the graduates will partner with women who are already established in their careers. Over time, the mentees will become the new mentors, ushering in a larger wave of talent, said Michelle Branigan of Electricity Human Resources Canada, the group that spearheaded Connected Women. Local 1928's McQuillan also serves on EHRC's Connected Women steering committee.

"We always have to remember there are two challenges to getting more women in the industry: first of all, we have to attract them to the sector and, then, once we get them in, we have to make sure that we keep them," Branigan said.

Learn more about Connected Women at the EHRC website:


'Connected Women' aims to boost the number of Canadian women working in the trades.

U.S.A. Union Members Restore
N.Y. Presidential Birthplace Cabin

A little known tourist attraction in New York's Finger Lakes region is the birthplace of the 13th U.S. president, Millard Fillmore, born on Jan. 7, 1800, in Moravia. The replica house sits in the namesake park Fillmore Glen four miles from the family log cabin that is no longer standing. But the imitation house was falling into disrepair until the members of the Union Sportsmen Alliance went to work last spring.

Syracuse, N.Y., Local 43 Business Manager Donald Morgan and more than 20 other volunteers helped restore the 50-year-old log cabin about 50 miles south of Syracuse. In nearly 345 man-hours, they replaced the cedar shake shingles, installed new floorboards, and put in new logs at the bottom of the cabin — while maintaining the style of a 19th century home.

"We had roofers, sheet metal workers, masons, insulators, guys from (United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters), electrical workers… It was a team effort for sure," Morgan said.

The Union Sportsmen Alliance's Work Boots on the Ground, including the North and Central N.Y. Building and Construction Trades Council volunteers, coordinated the project. U.S.A. is a nonprofit conservation organization seeking to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America's outdoor heritage.

"We really appreciate our communities, so we love the chance to give back to them and it helps us paint a picture of who union members really are." Morgan said. "We really hit a homerun. It was just what we were hoping for."

Even though President Fillmore is known to be among the least influential U.S. presidents, the replica cabin is a hot spot for patrons of the state park. When visitors aren't camping, swimming, or enjoying the many other amenities of Fillmore Glen, they can be found taking a stroll through the look-a-like cabin.



Roofers Local 195 Business Manager Ron Haney, left, Fillmore Glen Park Manager Jeff Zaia, Regional Director of N.Y. State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Fred Bonn and IBEW Local 43 Business Manager Donald Morgan stand at the doorway of the replica home.

Donations Boost Lineman Safety in
South American Country

With tree trunks sometimes serving as utility poles, the small South American country of Suriname is largely in need of critical energy infrastructure upgrades. Fortunately, rigorous efforts by electricians in the nation of 540,000 are continuing to get a boost from the IBEW.

For more than a year, linemen with several locals on the West Coast have volunteered time and training with the Suriname American Brotherhood Initiative, spearheaded by Seattle Local 77 member Brady Hansen. Now, members of Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 are stepping up their commitment, donating materials via Recycling for Linemen, a nonprofit that provides pre-owned but still perfectly functional safety gear to the growing number of electricians in the developing world.

Hansen spoke at a safety summit for utility provider NV Energy in early 2015, inspiring management and IBEW employees to participate.

"Both NV Energy and Local 1245 provide the necessary equipment, training and opportunities to do our job to the best of our abilities," Local 1245 Business Representative Pat Waite told Reno, Nev., KRNV Channel 4. "Sharing supplies and knowledge with the Surinamese linemen is the right thing to do. I'm really proud we have partnered with this program."

Members and management donated harnesses, tool belts, rubber boots, climbing gaffs, flashlights, first aid kits and traffic signs and cones. "At NV Energy, safety is such an important part of our culture," said Pat Wynen, the company's lines and construction maintenance supervisor. "When we learned about the dangerous and unsafe conditions of linemen in developing countries, we were immediately moved to become a part of this program. The materials we are sending to Suriname may very well save someone's life." reported on a 2014 service trip that brought Hansen and members from Local 77 and Portland, Ore., Local 125 to the country to instruct local electricians in pole top rescues, conductor tying and more.

"It was almost like we went back in time over 80 years to when apprenticeships were just being established," said Local 125 lineman Kurt Shriver. "The trip was one of the high points of my career. It was awesome to know that we were sharing skills of the trade and helping linemen stay safe at work to return home and be husbands and fathers."


Local 1245 members are donating time and safety equipment to linemen in Suriname.

Ninth District RENEW Activists Keep up Momentum

If there's one word that defines young workers' efforts in the IBEW's Ninth District, it's action.

From holding fundraiser bowling events and baseball games to hosting trainings to learn from veteran activists, members in the district's RENEW (Reach out and Engage Next-gen Electrical Workers) initiative are fusing the best of tradition with the spirit of enthusiastic young leaders.

Georgette Carrillo is one of those activists. By day, the five-year member is a customer service representative at Pacific Gas & Electric and a Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 organizing steward.

Outside of the office, Carrillo is helping bring fellow young workers into the movement as the district's RENEW Advisory Committee representative.

"Being in this role makes me feel like I am doing the greatest work in my career, helping to strengthen the labor movement," she said. "I no longer feel like just a call center employee — I feel like a true IBEW leader in the making."

Carrillo joined fellow young workers in July at the Ninth District Progress Meeting in San Diego. There, she had the chance to work with International Representative Harold Dias in planning the Young Workers Caucus. One of the workshop's goals was to improve organizing and skill sharing between younger members, via email, social media and in-person.

"Every local has its own challenges and strategies of how they get young members involved," Carrillo said.

Those efforts are paying off. Seattle Local 77 recently hosted a meet and greet to educate young workers about taking more of a role in their union. San Diego Locals 465 and 569 volunteered time and energy for the annual Letter Carriers' 'Stamp Out Hunger' Food Drive. Riverside, Calif., Local 440 has hosted cookout fundraisers, and Las Vegas Local 357's recent Texas Hold 'em poker fundraiser was a success, Carrillo said.

All of this points at two of the key missions of the IBEW: grow the membership and keep it engaged and active.

"It really is amazing to help get workers connected with other union members within our district," Carrillo said. "I am a very small part of this movement, and there are so many people who believe in RENEW as I do and are determined to keep building this."

Connect with the Ninth District's RENEW group on Facebook: (The link is case-sensitive.)


Ninth district RENEW members are fostering future leaders.

Cleveland Members Build Hotel Complex

Cleveland, Ohio, Local 38 members have been hard at work with the expansion of Legacy Village, a popular shopping center in Northeast Ohio.

Ron Ullman, chief operating officer of Ullman Electric, said that as the Hyatt Place hotel and parking garage project progresses, there could be up to 15 Local 38 members on site through early 2016.

About 20 miles east of Cleveland, Legacy Village's new additions are expected to open next June, in time for the 2016 Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The project, which includes restaurant and retail, is being funded by a $33 million National Electrical Benefit Fund loan.

"It means a lot to us that they're employing members from Local 38," said Local 38 Business Manager Dennis Meaney. "This job will produce tens of thousands of man-hours for Local 38 and for the other union tradesmen in our jurisdiction. Financing by using the NEBF Real Estate Funds is a great way to circulate dollars by creating union jobs, which in turn provide more pension hours and dollars to our members."


Local 38 members John Broderick, Jack Sparcio, Patrick Kunc and first year apprentice Mitch Bear, helped install wires for the two new buildings at Legacy Village complex.