The Electrical Worker online
May 2016

index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Ed Hill, 'Giant' of the Utility Industry, Honored

International President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill was honored for a lifetime of service to the utility industry by the landmark labor-management organization he helped create.

Hill was presented the John D. Dingell Award at the annual meeting of the National Labor and Management Political Action Committee, along with Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, a coalition of investor-owned utilities with nearly 220 million customers and 500,000 workers.

Hill and Kuhn co-founded LAMPAC in 2008 to advance the common goal of a healthy industry, reliable power and a well-trained workforce.

The award is named after the former Michigan representative, the longest serving member of Congress. Dingell sat on the Energy and Commerce Committee for nearly 60 years and was chair for more than 30. He built a reputation for finding ways that labor and management could collaborate for the common good.

His wife, Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, and New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross, the only IBEW member in Congress, presented the awards to Hill and Kuhn.

Hill accepted his award on behalf of IBEW members. He thanked the room of business managers, international representatives, elected officials, and utility executives, and expressed a philosophical view of the award.

"Giving me an award for building relationships is like giving a little kid an award for eating ice cream," Hill said. "There will always be a certain adversarial nature to the relationship between labor and management, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't work to find common cause where we can."

Kuhn accepted his award with some kind words and thanks of his own.

"I don't deserve to be in the same category as Ed Hill. How he rose through the ranks to the highest office of the IBEW… his story is incredible," Kuhn said. "The Code of Excellence is imbued in his heart, that we better serve our members when we serve our customers first."

The Dingell Award, an engraved table lamp mounted with an electricity meter, was presented by American Electric Power CEO Nicholas Akins and Utility Department Director Jim Hunter.

The ceremony came after a daylong conference focused on business and political challenges facing the utility industry.

Throughout the day, company and IBEW leaders spoke about how they were meeting each challenge together.

A particular bright spot was the focus of a panel featuring Florida Power & Light President and CEO Eric Silagy and Utility System Council 4 Business Manager Gary Aleknavich.

Before the Code of Excellence was signed between FPL and the 11 locals in System Council 4, Aleknavich said, contract negotiations dragged on for months and thousands of grievances were filed against the company.

"Our last contract negotiation took 34 days from start to finish and I am proud to say we have zero, not one grievance pending arbitration," Aleknavich said.

"Aligning our interests has made us better, stronger and safer," Silagy said. "We are really, really proud of how far we have come."


Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, and International President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill were honored at the National LAMPAC meeting.

Another Way This Tulsa Local is
Helping First-Year Apprentices

While graduates of the IBEW apprenticeship programs are all but guaranteed a good-paying job, the first year can be tough in terms of up-front costs. With books, tools and other supplies, an apprentice in his first year can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,200 out-of-pocket. So when Ted Jenkins, training director for the Tulsa, Okla., JATC, learned about a program through the Department of Labor's Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that provides financial assistance, he applied.

"When you come in to the apprenticeship, you're at your lowest pay scale. A lot of times you're coming from starter jobs that don't pay well," said Jenkins, a Tulsa Local 584 member. "There's never really been any help for these apprentices, and it can be a struggle when you first come in."

More and more, people are touting the benefits of apprenticeships. You learn a marketable skill and get paid while doing so. Unlike a four-year college degree where graduates often emerge with thousands of dollars in debt and precarious job prospects, graduates of an apprenticeship have no such debt. And they will make an average of $50,000 in their first year. Still, that first year can be difficult financially. Not everybody has $1,000 to spend, even if it's for an investment in their future.

"It's been very helpful," Jenkins said. "We don't want these costs to be a barrier to entry."

Jenkins says the Tulsa apprenticeship program was the first in the state to apply. They had eight recipients the first year. This year they will have between 15 and 20.

"So far it's allowed me to save almost a grand," said Tyler Ford, a first-year apprentice. "It's paid for my books and my first year of tools, which I use every day on the job."

There is no cap on the number of apprentices who can receive funding. As long as apprentices apply to an accredited program and qualify for assistance, they will receive funding.

"My wife and I were kind of tight on money when it was time to pay for books, and it took that pressure off," said first-year apprentice Ross Peary.

Since the program is federal, any accredited apprenticeship in the country can apply. Funds are for first-year apprentices only. For further information, Jenkins says trainers can talk with their local workforce, or employment, office.

The Tulsa program has been so successful that Jenkins was asked to join the Governor's Council for Workforce and Economic Development.

"It's important that we have a say in where the money goes, and to push for apprenticeships," Jenkins said. "By 2020, more jobs will require some sort of certification beyond a high school diploma, and apprenticeships like the IBEW's are an excellent opportunity for the right person."

Note: The National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (NJATC) rebranded in 2014 and transitioned into the Electrical Training Alliance.


Tulsa, Okla., Local 584's apprenticeship program is taking advantage of a program that eases the barrier to entry for many.

Ohio RENEW Chapter Partners with Local Schools

Members of the Reach Out and Engage Next-Gen Electrical Workers chapter at Columbus, Ohio, Local 1466, wanted to be more visible in the areas they serve. Employees of American Electric Power and members of a utility local, they wanted to find a way to tell customers the IBEW is a major part of their lives.

"We just want to let people know we're out there and we're in the community and we care," said Jimi Jette, a Local 1466 member.

Local 1466's RENEW committee is partnering with Reynoldsburg City Schools for a backpack campaign before the next school year begins in August.

RENEW members will be raising money and donating items to fill backpacks for students in need before the coming school year. They also will donate items to teachers for use in the classroom. RENEW is an IBEW initiative that encourages younger members to become more active and focus on issues important to members of their local.

"They [Columbus area residents] don't know we're a union," Jette added.

Jette recently turned 36 and bylaws required him to give up his seat on the advisory committee. He's been succeeded by Derek Samuelson from Norfolk, Va., Local 80.

Samuelson, 30, is a journeyman inside wireman and has been a leader at an active RENEW chapter at his local. He and other members took part in a polar plunge last winter to benefit the Special Olympics and have helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

They volunteer to work on maintenance projects at the USS Wisconsin, a decommissioned battleship that functions as a museum at the National Maritime Center in Norfolk.

Samuelson said he worked on nonunion construction jobs before going through the Local 80 apprenticeship.

"I try to tell people there's a lot more power in numbers," he said. "We're all in this together. When you're working nonunion, you're on your own."