The Electrical Worker online
August 2021

My IBEW Story
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Dave Class, Retired Journeyman Lineman
Anchorage, Alaska, Local 1547

"As a kid, I remember a man walked into our back yard, said hi and that he needed to do some work on the pole. He strapped on a belt and hooks and climbed right up the pole. I think my mouth dropped wide open; I was amazed at how easy he made it look.

I joined the IBEW when I took a temporary summer job as a grunt on a natural gas crew in Evergreen, Colorado. You had to join to work there, and I didn't really know anything about unions. After about six months, the division manager asked if I was going to continue on with school or if I would be interested in a power lineman apprenticeship. I had a flash back to the lineman in my back yard and immediately said yes. It was the best decision I've ever made.

I moved to Alaska right after I topped out as a journeyman, where I learned a lot more about unions. During the '80s and '90s I can't count the number of informational picket lines, strikes, lockouts, phone banks, legislative letter-writing campaigns and labor-management disputes I've been on, but we prevailed on most counts because of the brotherhood and union solidarity. Everybody standing together was spiritual — and in the end those memories are the ones that count.

The IBEW has given me more than I could ever ask for. I've had medical, dental and vision benefits my whole career. The union helped provide my apprenticeship, including training that has no doubt saved my life on a handful of occasions. It's also given me great job opportunities, safe working conditions, good wages, benefits and retirement, not to mention the value of brotherhood itself. Many thanks to our founding brothers and sisters!