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May 2023

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'Huge' Win for Code of Excellence:
On-Clock Training at Raytheon Plant

More than 2,400 Raytheon Technologies missile and defense workers are getting on-the-clock training on the IBEW's Code of Excellence program, thanks to a years-long effort by the leaders of Waltham, Mass., Local 1505 and representatives from the Second District office.

"This is the biggest Code of Excellence implementation in the Manufacturing branch," said Director of Manufacturing Brian Lamm, explaining that rank-and-file workers and managers alike will receive code training over the coming year. "The contract ensures 100% participation. It's huge for us."

Launched by International President Edwin D. Hill in 2007, the Code of Excellence was designed to ensure the highest standards in every IBEW workplace. Where the code is formally embraced, leaders and members are expected to commit to demonstrating the union's core values in everything they do: safety, professionalism, accountability, relationships and quality.

"It's taken us a long time to get here," Lamm said of efforts to bring the Code of Excellence to this Raytheon facility, where workers manufacture such things as radar systems and their components, missile launch systems, and the unarmed missiles for them. (Explosive ordnance for these is installed later at another location.)

Over those years, representatives from the Second District, whose purview includes Massachusetts, negotiated alongside leaders from Local 1505 to begin implementing the Code of Excellence, with Raytheon finally agreeing to allow classes to begin in 2021.

"Code training was going to be voluntary at first, but then we negotiated to make it mandatory," said Second District International Representative John Horak, who services Local 1505.

One of the IBEW's biggest remaining implementation hurdles was convincing Raytheon that it would be worth its while to allow the hourlong Code of Excellence classes to be conducted on company time.

"One hour per employee is not a small expense" when multiplied by 2,400 employees, noted Lamm.

The company recently agreed to budget for code classes to be held as part of an employee's regular workday, said Local 1505 Business Manager Michael Zagami, and this iteration of Code of Excellence training is now officially underway.

"There are so many departments and a lot of different skill sets," Zagami said. "It's going to be a challenge for us, but the company is committed, and we're willing to do what it takes." He added that Local 1505 was the first IBEW local to negotiate a contract with Raytheon in the late 1940s.

"We have a commitment from Raytheon to give every employee this training," Horak stressed. "It's mandatory for all new employees, too — a condition of their employment."

Members of the IBEW's Education Department, led by International Representative Craig Duffy, have been conducting train-the-trainer sessions for a group of 10 to 12 chief stewards and 30 to 40 department stewards, with continuing support provided by the department during this first year. "The local is handpicking the core group of trainers, and we're doing meetings of 20 or so workers at a time," Horak said.

Lamm credited Zagami for assembling the team that made it possible. "They even got Raytheon to commit to flying a Code of Excellence flag outside its entrance," he said.

"The local's been all-in, too," Horak added, with Zagami meeting regularly with Raytheon's labor relations team. "Everyone knows that this is not something we can do a couple of times. There's no second chance with this."

Horak said the training agreement also should help other businesses take notice of the IBEW's commitment to such things as quality, professionalism and safety, helping the union further expand its reputation for being the first choice for the job.

"We're talking about a company that's a huge defense contractor. It's the largest Raytheon office in the Northeast," Horak said. "We're helping them see how the Code of Excellence truly fits their culture."


Greg Munday and Gail Nadeau of Waltham, Mass., Local 1505 work on radar for Patriot missile systems in Raytheon's hardware integration center, which is getting on-the-clock Code of Excellence training.

'Exciting' Agreement Brings Fiber Jobs to
IBEW Lineworkers at Alabama Power

IBEW utility lineworkers in Alabama will soon be running fiber-optic cabling for broadband internet, thanks to a recent agreement with Alabama Power. The pact stands to have far-reaching job-growth and training implications for IBEW utility workers across the U.S.

"This is the result of the IBEW lobbying Congress to invest in expanding fiber optic networks and to better allow utilities to build out the middle mile of those networks," said Utility Department Director Donnie Colston.

The agreement covers the installation, handling and attaching of fiber-optic cable, plus the intermediate splicing and testing of new-construction fiber.

"Traditionally, we've just been utility linemen, dealing with nothing but electrical wires," said U-19 Business Manager Casey Shelton. "We've never really stepped into communications service. But COVID opened our eyes to the ways that technology has changed, and we started giving thought to broadband work."

Electrical utilities are increasingly interested in adding broadband expansion, thanks in part to the billions of dollars in subsidies being made available in recent years under such government funding programs as the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

"The IBEW lobbied hard to include money in these laws to build out broadband networks," said Colston. He and Austin Keyser, assistant to the international president for government affairs, have also been working with the White House and the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, on developing a national broadband strategy.

"Broadband and high-speed internet service is on the way to every part of the U.S., especially in rural and traditionally underserved communities," Keyser said. "We're talking with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and policymakers in the Biden administration every day to make sure IBEW members are the ones who will get that work — and, just as importantly, keep it."

Colston said that ongoing efforts to maintain good working relations on the part of labor and management alike has helped move Alabama Power to the head of the pack in this arena. "There are other utility companies that are wanting to build out the middle mile and take advantage of using IBEW workers to do it," he said, "but they are not as far along as Alabama Power."

Just as significant is the fact that Alabama Power also negotiated adding fiber-optic training to its apprenticeship program with the National Utility Industry Training Fund, Colston said, which will benefit all the utilities and locals that use the NUITF program at IBEW training centers across the U.S. NUITF is a joint project of the IBEW and major U.S. utility companies to boost recruitment and training.

"Alabama Power reached out to NUITF and said: 'We've already put the criteria together. We want everyone to come along with us on this and add it to their apprenticeship programs. We want all of NUITF to benefit from this,'" Colston said.

The agreement didn't happen overnight. "We brought it to the company, and then there was 2½ years of discussion," he said, which helped Alabama Power recognize the many benefits of having the IBEW members they already trust take on this work. His system council is made up of nine locals representing Alabama Power workers: Mobile Local 345, Gadsden Local 391, Dothan Local 796, Montgomery Local 801, Jasper Local 833, Birmingham Local 841, Tallassee Local 904, Demopolis Local 1053 and Wilsonville Local 2077.

"Now, utilities are trying to figure out the advantages of applying for IIJA funding, and the NUITF program stands to benefit as well," said Mark Baker, an international representative with the Utility Department and the executive director of NUITF. "This is a phenomenal reflection of why politics matters."

"Our industry is updating how to communicate with substations, where we're already pulling in fiber-optic cable, while also addressing cyber security," Colston said. "What utilities want to do is run the actual fiber-optic cable itself, and then let communities tap into that and use it. What we want is for the IBEW to build it out together with them."

The Alabama Power agreement is helping make that happen. "It's all in training now, learning how to splice and test 288-strand fiber-optic broadband cable," Shelton said.

Connecting these lines to homes and businesses — the "last mile" of fiber-optic networks — will continue to be handled by telecom workers.

"These are exciting times," Shelton said. "There's so much potential for growth, in installation and maintenance alike. We're looking forward to continuing to make sure that as many of these jobs as possible go to IBEW members."

The Alabama Power agreement specifically calls for a "roving connectivity crew" to handle all aspects of fiber-optic cable installation throughout northern Alabama, including make-ready work such as pole setting, moving distribution equipment on the poles to make communication space available for cable, pulling in and attaching cabling, and intermediate cable splicing. Nine new IBEW Alabama Power jobs are being created with these crews, Shelton said, with another crew set to start work in 2024.

"The main thing is that Alabama Power is using its existing workforce to build out fiber," Colston said. "It's an investor-owned utility that said, 'We want to take advantage of the IIJA funds, we want the IBEW to partner with us, and we're going to use our own union linemen.'"

The agreement not only means more IBEW jobs, it means access to life-changing broadband for rural Alabamans.

"Considering how much kids nowadays are relying on remote learning, this is extremely important," Shelton said. "Long term, we might see the day that it's almost more important to restore broadband first, then power."

He is grateful during this exciting time. "We've got to constantly be digging in to do more work, and this could mean years upon years of work, installing and maintaining fiber lines."

"It's a real steppingstone for us," he said. "It's a huge win for the IBEW and the customer."


IBEW members at Alabama Power are learning how to splice fiber optic cable. Foreground from left: Patrick Sims and Dylan Garner. In back, from left: Bradley Anderson, Lynn Garrison and Ronny Monk.

Stephenson, Utility CEO Honored as
Labor-Management Partners

A visionary partnership between International President Emeritus Lonnie R. Stephenson and former American Electric Power CEO Nick Akins led to a joint honor in March for their achievements in the energy industry.

The Edison Electric Institute and the IBEW presented the leaders with the 2023 Edwin D. Hill Award during an annual conference of management and labor.

"Nick and Lonnie are true champions and leaders for organized labor and the electric power industry," said EEI President Tom Kuhn, who leads the association, which represents U.S. investor-owned electric utilities. "They have worked hard to make our labor-industry partnership stronger than ever."

The award is named for the late IBEW international president who retired in 2015, turning the reins over to Stephenson. Under Hill's leadership, the union and EEI created the National Labor and Management Public Affairs Committee, or LAMPAC, to address the nation's energy challenges and the shared goals of safe jobs; a highly skilled workforce; and well-managed, efficient utilities.

"This award — named after one of the great IBEW leaders of our time — is an honor of a lifetime," said Stephenson, who retired in January after a 48-year career that began as an apprentice wireman at Rock Island, Ill. Local 145. "I take great pride in the partnership [we] built with the EEI over the years. We showed the nation that labor and management can unite to promote stronger, safer and more productive workplaces."

Citing legislative victories that include saving Illinois' nuclear power industry and fighting deregulation, he lauded Akins, who retired as CEO in 2022 and currently serves as executive chair of AEP's board of directors, as one of his closest partners on the battlefield.

"The IBEW and EEI worked together with one goal: to ensure a bright energy future for the nation and the men and women who kept it running," Stephenson said.

The March 13 event also recognized the teamwork of U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, and Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, who are pushing for a broadband buildout that would create jobs and bring high-speed internet to communities across the country.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, presented the senators with the John D. Dingell Award, named for her late husband and the longest-serving member of Congress. His nearly 60-year tenure on Capitol Hill included chairing the House Energy and Commerce Committee and fostering labor-management collaboration on a wide range of issues.

International President Kenneth W. Cooper hailed the senators as proof that "Washington can find bipartisan solutions to modernizing our nation's electrical infrastructure."

"Things like high-speed broadband, a reliable energy grid and good energy jobs aren't partisan issues but basic common sense," Cooper said. "I thank Senators Cantwell and Capito for their leadership and commitment to crossing the aisle to do what's best for the nation."

He also saluted his predecessor at the IBEW, along with Akins.

"Lonnie and Nick's careers are testaments to the power of labor-management partnerships in the energy industry," he said. "Because of their leadership and vision, the IBEW and the energy industry are working closer than ever to ensure a modern electrical infrastructure, good energy jobs and a low-carbon future for America."


International President Kenneth W. Cooper accepts LAMPAC's Edwin D. Hill Award on behalf of his predecessor, Lonnie R. Stephenson, for Stephenson's leadership the power industry. With him from left: EEI President Tom Kuhn, American Electric Power CEO Julie Sloat and AEP Chair Kick Akins.

Future Leaders: Apply for the Founders' Scholarship

Every year, the IBEW awards scholarships worth up to $24,000 to help cultivate a new generation of leadership in the union and the electrical industry.

For 2023, the Founders' Scholarship application deadline is June 1, and International President Kenneth W. Cooper wants every eligible member to consider applying.

"Our industries are some of the most dynamic and challenging, not just in the trades but everywhere. A constant striving toward excellence is the hallmark of the IBEW worker," Cooper said. "The Founders' Scholarship is our way to ensure union members are in every conversation shaping the future of our work."

The four scholars in the newest class are all seeking graduate degrees: two in human resources and labor management, one in learning design and technology in education, and the fourth in construction management.

Award decisions are based on an essay, transcripts from high school or college, and "potential, social awareness and career goals," said Jim Voye, director of the Research Department and head of the scholarship committee.

"The scholarship is one of the benefits of membership, and more people should take advantage of it," he said. "It can make the difference between getting and not getting a degree, which can be life-changing."

The 2022 Winners

Filmon Ali topped out of Everett, Wash., Local 191's apprenticeship program in 2021, the same year he earned a bachelor's degree in construction management from Rowan University.

Ali resurrected the local's Electrical Worker Minority Caucus committee, said Business Manager Craig Jones, and he now chairs it. He will use the grant to complete a master's in construction management with the goal of strengthening the IBEW's commitment to diversity in our membership and expanding opportunities for all people in the building trades.

This is Chicago Local 134 member Ryan Madiar's second go-round in graduate school. He started a master's in applied linguistics after earning a degree in German as an undergraduate before taking a Local 134 apprenticeship.

Twelve years after topping out, he is now a business representative in Chicago managing almost 30 collective bargaining agreements at more than two dozen employers representing 500 members.

Since 2017, Madiar has been enrolled almost continuously in workshops, certifications and college classes about labor-management relations.

"To continuously improve, you must never stop learning. There is always more to do," Madiar said. "The work of the labor movement is never done."

While earning a certificate in union labor leadership at DePaul University, Madiar wrote a reference guide and handbook on collective bargaining for the local's reps and stewards. The guide, said Matthew Cleveland, Local 134's general counsel, was concise, effective, accurate and useful. It also showed in bright relief the qualities the scholarship committee is looking for: character, heart and a drive for excellence.

"He not only has a thirst for knowledge but wishes to share that knowledge through action and education," Cleveland said.

Madiar will use the scholarship to complete a master's in human resources and employment relations at Penn State University with a double concentration in labor law and collective bargaining.

Indianapolis Local 481 member Paul Meyers is not just a lifelong student but a full-time master instructor with his local JATC and a curriculum specialist for the Electrical Training Alliance.

He wrote a textbook used across the country as part of the inside apprenticeship and was the lead author of two classroom lab manuals, including the electric vehicle charging installation program frequently highlighted by the White House.

"The building trades' apprenticeship system is one of the few opportunities that affords individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds an opportunity to live a life fulfilled with a stable income, health care and a supportive community," he said. "I have witnessed firsthand the power of education to provide upward mobility for students born into an environment that otherwise provided few opportunities."

Meyers is returning to the other side of the lectern to learn new techniques and educational models for teaching the tech-savvy younger workers now dominating the IBEW's apprenticeship system. He is working toward a master of science in education degree at Purdue University.

Local 481 Business Representative Lance Bradbury put the goals of the Founders Scholarship succinctly in his recommendation of Meyers.

"His goals are our goals," Bradbury said.

South Bend, Ind., Local 153 Assistant Business Manager Jason Piontek is the fourth recipient of the 2022 scholarship awards.

After six years in the U.S. Army, Piontek was initiated into the IBEW in 1998 and earned his bachelor's in labor studies at Indiana University while working as a foreman and serving on the examining board.

Local 153 Business Manager Brian O'Donnell said some of Piontek's most critical work is done on the many public boards and commissions he has served on, including the South Bend Plan Commission and South Bend Public Works and Property Vacation Committee and as vice president of the Northern Indiana American Labor Federation.

Piontek will use his scholarship to complete his studies in the human resources and employment relations graduate program at Penn State.

"The Founders' Scholarship is a program to support the leaders in our ranks to become leaders throughout our industries and our nation," Voye said. "Every one of the winners is among the best we have to offer, but we know there are many, many more of you out there."

More information and the application for the Founders' Scholarship can be found at


Everett, Wash., Local 191 member Filmon Ali


Chicago Local 134 member Ryan Madiar


South Bend, Ind., Local 153 Assistant Business Manager Jason Piontek


Indianapolis Local 481 member Paul Meyers