The Electrical Worker online
September 2021

My IBEW Story
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Wayne Yonce, Retired Journeyman Wireman
Los Angeles Local 11

"I first saw electricity in a high school shop class. The teacher set up a Tesla coil and each student had his turn with a wand drawing long sparks from its copper dome. We learned electrical theory and built soldering irons. The following summer I was hired as an electrician helper at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

When I was 17, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy for World War II. The Navy put me in classrooms for months learning to be an aviation electrician. I was assigned to a carrier aircraft service unit but sent back to school to learn the electronics, mechanics and hydraulics of automatic pilot systems. I spent my last months in the Navy on Johnston Island in the Pacific as the only electrician in a crew of mechanics servicing four-engine transport aircraft.

After the war I bounced around — some college, North American Aviation, the telephone company's linesmen school and at Western Electric doing central office telephone equipment.

I first learned of the IBEW while working plant maintenance. I was going to night school taking classes in theory, code and motor control. The classes were primarily intended for Local 11 apprentices, but it being a public school, I was admitted. The instructor, an executive board member, wrote a very kind letter of introduction and I became a journeyman member of the local's maintenance unit. After maintenance at Douglas Aircraft and Rome Cable I worked construction out of classification, passed the exam and became a journeyman 'A' wireman.

The IBEW benefited my family. One income afforded a full-time stay-at-home mother for my children growing up in a good home. The IBEW benefited me. I had pride in my craft. I had dignity. I was not chained to one desk, one machine, or one employer. I had freedom. I could present my dues receipt to an IBEW dispatcher anywhere in the U.S. Now 95 years old, my working years were an adventure!"