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September 2022

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Boston Local Donates Van to Technical School

Students at Boston's Madison Park Vocational Technical High School can now practice their electrical skills in the community with a new van and supplies, thanks to Local 103 and the area chapter of the National Electrical Contractors' Association.

"This is a great opportunity for the students to get out of the classroom and get exposed to a real-life working experience," said McDonald Electric contractor Tom Cooney, who also sits on the board of Madison Park. "The sense of accomplishment they will experience from having done something in the community will last for years. And that feeling is far greater than any classroom or shop assignment experience."

When Cooney heard that Madison Park, Boston's only technical high school, had a need for a van and supplies, he knew to turn to Local 103. The partnership between the school and the local runs deep, with a number of members also claiming alumni status. One of those members is Business Agent Renee Dozier.

"We stay in constant contact with the school, and it's our love language to give and serve," Dozier said of the generous donation.

The van, which came with a Madison Park-branded decorative wrap, was full of roughly $10,000 worth of supplies, courtesy of NECA. The supplies included Milwaukee battery-powered tools like drills, band saws and cable cutters, electricians' hand tools, gang boxes and branded shirts and sweatshirts.

"The students were just thrilled to see all the new equipment they'll have the opportunity to use and, of course, we as instructors appreciate how it will enhance our lessons," said Michael Norris, a Local 103 member and instructor at the school, to the Dorchester Reporter. "The donations are really going to go a long way for Madison Park's electrical program."

The van will allow the students to get out into the community and practice what they're learning in the classroom and the shop. Whether it's working with Habitat for Humanity or at a local senior center, the students will get the chance to do some authentic work, Norris said.

"It's the piece that was missing from our curriculum," Norris said. "This way they're not just sitting around doing doorbells."

Norris, who teaches juniors and seniors, says it's particularly beneficial for freshmen and sophomores since they don't get to work in the field until their junior year.

"The sophomores are itching for more," he said. "With the van, we can go to the next step."

Since Madison Park is the only technical school in the city, it acts as a feeder for Local 103's apprenticeship program, with junior and senior students getting the opportunity to work with IBEW signatory contractors like McDonald Electric. And starting in the fall, they'll also get the chance to have a mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, something Cooney will be a part of.

"I'll get the opportunity to mentor a junior in the electrical program through his or her senior year," said the 35-year IBEW member. "The hope here is that they will graduate and get into Local 103 and hopefully work for McDonald Electrical Corporation."

Norris said the program has grown from 40 students to 80, thanks in large part to Local 103's support. The van is just the latest demonstration of its commitment to seeing the Madison Park students succeed. And by supporting the school, they're also supporting the community.

"Local 103 is committed to the future of our industry as well as the future of our community. They go hand in hand," said Business Manager Lou Antonellis. "One can't be successful without the other."


Students at Madison Park Vocational Technical High School were the recipients of a van and supplies, courtesy of Boston Local 103 and the area chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

DOL Report: The Pandemic's Toll on Working Women

Working women were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the Department of Labor.

"This report is a pivotal achievement," said Labor Secretary Marty Walsh in the foreword. "It helps us gain an accurate picture of women's work lives during the pandemic. Knowing of these challenges, we at the department are working hard to improve the workplace realities of women, particularly the most vulnerable, including Black and Hispanic women and others disproportionately impacted by the pandemic."

Titled "Bearing the Cost," the report details how many of the disparities that have long impacted women in the workplace only worsened during the pandemic. For the first time since data began being collected in 1948, women lost more jobs than men during the depths of the COVID-19-related economic crisis. More women also left the labor force entirely during the pandemic, and at its worst point in April 2020, women's labor force participation was the lowest it's been since 1985.

Women of color tended to be impacted the worst. Throughout the crisis, Black and Hispanic women faced unemployment rates significantly higher than white women and have experienced a slower recovery. Women's unemployment being higher than men's was driven largely by the experiences of Black and Hispanic women, with Hispanic women having the highest measured unemployment rate at 20.1% in April 2020 of any major group by gender, race or ethnicity. White women's unemployment stayed below 6% from October 2020 through the end of 2021, while Hispanic women did not reach those lows until September 2021 and for Black women it was not until November 2021 — roughly a year later than white women.

While the data is limited and not always separated by gender, the report found that American Indian and Alaska Native workers had an unemployment rate of 28.6% in April 2020, up from 6.1% a year prior. For Asian women, where data is also limited, the unemployment rate peaked at 16.6% in May 2020, but the report noted that subgroups of Asian women experienced different vulnerabilities pre-pandemic, leading to varying experiences during the crisis.

According to the study, two primary factors contributed to women bearing the brunt of the pandemic's dire employment situation. First, women — who have always performed the majority of unpaid family caregiving — coped with greater challenges managing work and care, from dealing with their children's remote schooling to caring for disabled and older family members who lost access to critical care services.

Second, women were overrepresented in industries that experienced the pandemic's worst job losses, like leisure and hospitality, as well as education and health care. The report breaks down the factors contributing to this into supply side and demand side. On the supply side, the report notes that social norms often push workers into stereotypical jobs for their gender, race or ethnicity. For example, in 2019 women made up 95% of childcare workers, an industry that lost more than one-third of all jobs between February and April 2020. Conversely, women made up just 2% of electricians, an essential job in the critical trade sector.

The report also points to fewer network connections and mentors for women, especially in male-dominated jobs.

"Mentoring and networks are extremely important," said Tarn Goelling, director of IBEW's Civic and Community Engagement Department. "If we want parity, the women of today need support, especially in male-dominated fields."

The demand-side factors noted in the report are workplace discrimination in areas like recruitment, selection, hiring and promotion and hostile workplace cultures. This is a finding backed up by a survey from the Institute for Women's Policy Research of women in construction. In that report, more than four in 10 respondents said that they have seriously considered leaving the industry. For those individuals, discrimination or lack of respect was the most cited reason for wanting to do so.

Goelling says IBEW constituency groups like women's committees and the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus are ways to combat that discrimination and lack of representation.

"When we have affinities with each other, there's a comfort level and you can establish trust," Goelling said. "You have fellow members who understand where you're coming from, sister to sister."

Goelling in particular noted the importance of the networking and mentoring opportunities available through groups like the EWMC and women's committees.

"They create places where you can really feel like family," she said. "We need that space to be able to lean on our union siblings."

There's also IBEW Strong, the union's diversity, inclusion and equity initiative to increase the number of historically underrepresented groups like women and people of color.

"Every job we represent should be representative of the communities we work in," Goelling said. "Just about everywhere in the U.S. and Canada, women are 50% of the population, so our jobs should reflect that, whether they're in construction, utility, broadcasting or any other branch."


A new report from the Department of Labor looks at the disproportionate toll experienced by women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lineworker Scholarship Aims to Diversify Workforce

Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47 has partnered with Edison International and Southern California Edison to offer a lineworker scholarship aimed at making its workforce more diverse and inclusive, in particular by recruiting more Black participants.

"This program allows for great financial opportunities and the beginning of generational wealth in the Black community," said Local 47 President Tyrone Chamois, who was involved in the initial planning of the program. "It provides a path for the next generation to be better off than the previous one."

Launched last year, the 12-month program provides tuition, tools and the support services needed to complete the required training at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. Part of a larger diversity and inclusion initiative at SCE, the initial focus of the four-year pilot program is on recruiting Black participants, who are currently underrepresented in the workforce, with 10 scholarships awarded per year.

"We are proud to launch the new Lineworker Scholarship program as part of our continuing commitment to increase our workforce diversity," said Kevin Payne, SCE president and CEO. "SCE serves one of the most diverse areas in the nation and having our workforce reflect the communities we serve is a priority for us."

Chamois, who is also an electrical crew foreman with SCE, is part of an employee resource group called Black Men Initiative, which met with the leadership group at the technical college to start the initial discussions around starting the program for Black applicants. He was also involved with determining how to apply the funds from Local 47 and SCE.

"The purpose was to make sure each successful candidate has the financial help to be successful. Not just with tuition but also with things like transportation and daycare costs," he said.

Chamois says he hopes to increase the footprint of the program, in part by providing more scholarships.

"I want to see this spread like wildfire through the African-American community," Chamois said. "I want to bring awareness to this industry and the great careers that are available."

The $1 million scholarship program is funded by Edison International shareholders and Local 47 and awards up to $25,000 per recipient. An agreement with local charity Brotherhood Crusade will help with support services like housing, transportation and childcare.

"It's very important to allow these individuals the ability to commit to the program and not have to worry about how they'll make ends meet," said Local 47 Business Manager Colin Lavin.

Graduates will be eligible for a groundman/groundwoman entry-level position at SCE once they complete the Powerline Mechanic Certificate program, obtain a Class A driver's license and complete any SCE pre-employment requirements. All jobs will be located within SCE's 50,000-square-mile service area.

Chamois says the program isn't just beneficial for the scholarship recipients, but for Local 47 and SCE as well.

"There's no better way to be involved than to provide tangible opportunities that benefit members of the community," he said. "With this scholarship program, Local 47 and SCE can establish themselves as leaders in the community that provide a real financial boost."


Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47, in partnership with Edison International and Southern California Edison, is offering a lineworker scholarship geared toward recruiting more Black residents.

Milwaukee Partnership Opens Doors of Opportunity

John Bailey III has not had an easy life. He's twice been incarcerated and recently completed a 10-year prison sentence.

But with the help of Milwaukee Local 494, a prominent community partner and a leading signatory contractor, Bailey has his IBEW membership card and is on the job. He said he realizes it could turn his life around and is determined to take advantage of it.

"Doing all the stuff that I did, going through all the hardships, I never really gave myself a chance on anything," he said. "When I learned about this opportunity, I felt like I should at least try it."

Bailey, 45, is a graduate of the Social Development Commission's Absolute Advantage Program, which teaches construction skills and safety requirements with its own instructors and help from the city's trade unions, including Local 494. The commission works to improve the lives of Milwaukee residents living in poverty.

Local 494 Assistant Business Manager John Jacobs represents the Milwaukee Area Labor Council on the group's Board of Commissioners. Jacobs and other Local 494 officials helped Bailey land a job as a construction wireman with longtime signatory contractor Lemberg Electric, making him an IBEW member.

"He wrote on his application, 'This is something I hope to make a new life from,'" Jacobs said. "That just gave me chills when I read it, and I put it in my speech to the program's graduates. It was a pretty powerful statement."

Bailey has been working on a jobsite at the former offices of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. The building is being converted into student housing for a local technical college and a high school. His goal is to eventually enter the Local 494 apprenticeship program and become a journeyman wireman.

"I could see myself doing this for the next 20 years," he said.

Making the transition from incarceration to a productive life is difficult for many former inmates. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds are arrested within three years following release and nearly 50% return to prison during that period.

Robert Nunn, a program instructor for the commission who is serving as Bailey's mentor, noted Bailey is making $23 per hour as a construction wireman. Earning a living wage is a tool that helps a former prisoner successfully reintegrate into everyday life.

Plus, there's the pride and dignity the job brings, something that is lacking for many clients when they come to the commission for assistance.

"When John came in and graduated, I had to hold back my tears," Nunn said. "You're talking about a guy who had been incarcerated for 10 years. For him to go out and make that happen was such a special moment. His message to the other graduates was: 'If I can do it, you guys can do it.'"

The program not only helps individuals turn their lives around, it also makes good business sense for the IBEW and its signatory contractors.

Like in many American cities, construction projects that receive public funding in Milwaukee are required to fill a certain percentage of the work with city residents. The commission's program makes it easier for contractors to meet those requirements while also meeting their goals — and the IBEW's goal — of diversifying the workforce with traditionally underrepresented groups, Lemberg President Mark Chappel said.

"You're checking off a lot of boxes," said Chappel, who went through Local 494's apprenticeship program and still pays his membership dues. "The city is getting what it wants, city residents are doing the work and we're getting the people we need.

"Quite frankly, our industry needs this," he added.

Local 494 deepened its involvement with the program in 2019, when the labor council asked Jacobs to fill an open commissioner seat. He said he was immediately impressed by how prepared the students were, especially considering the background many came from. Each completed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's 10-hour training certificate, for instance.

Jacobs said he and other Local 494 members told them about the importance of finishing the more advanced 30-hour course from OSHA. Many of them are doing that.

"I've stressed not just to the instructors and the staff, but to the students, that by now having OSHA 30, you've given yourselves a leg up on the competition and what employers are looking for," he said.

Three graduates of the program have been hired and become Local 494 members, Jacobs said. Others have joined other trade unions. Jacobs noted that he's spent much of his IBEW career working as organizer. Local 494's work with the commission is a continuation of that, he said.

"Let's put it this way: It certainly fits our narrative to go and create a more diverse pool of not only applicants, but members themselves," Jacobs said.

"My favorite hat to wear of all the hats within the IBEW is organizer," he said. "When you see someone realize what they have in front of them — and you say it to them all you want — but once they get to experience it and understand what you have, that's a high for me."

Business Manager Dean Warsh commended Jacobs and other Local 494 members who have volunteered to work with students in the Absolute Advantage Program — and for making them feel welcome on jobsites when hired by signatory contractors.

"Programs like this are essential in making the IBEW stronger now and in the future, addressing the shortage of skilled construction workers and allowing our signatory contractors additional flexibility in bidding for jobs," Warsh said. "But what's really satisfying is that we are giving these men and women a chance to better their lives. We've always talked about the power of IBEW membership. This gives more people a chance to experience how that literally changes someone and their loved ones."

Chappel noted that he serves on the local JATC committee with both Warsh and Jacobs. The cooperation between that committee, Local 494 and NECA Milwaukee makes opportunities like this possible, he said. He's spoken to Bailey's foreman on the job — and he reports that Bailey is doing well.

"He's obviously very green, but he tries really hard at all the tasks assigned to him," Chappel said. "He's always on time and a pleasure to have on a crew. He's attentive and safety conscious and, for his experience level, he does very well."


Milwaukee Local 494 member John Bailey III, whose work ethic is turning his life around.