The Electrical Worker online
June 2023

My IBEW Story
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Alex "Archie" Alcantara, journeyman wireman
New York City Local 3

"I grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., and I had a friend, Dennis McSpedon, whose family were all members of Local 3 and had been for generations. Through my friend and his family, I learned about IBEW values and the Brotherhood overall, and I understood that it was an organization that I'd want to join.

In 1995, Brother McSpedon, who believed in me and showed me a pathway into the union, changed my life when he handed me an application for an apprenticeship.

Now I'm a journeyman and an active member in my local and my community, involved with the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, and I consider myself to be a Local 3 soldier!

Being a first-generation IBEW member has given my family a different experience growing up than I had. I emigrated from Brazil when I was 10 years old, and back in those days, my family and I would pick out furniture that had been left behind as trash.

Today, I own my home, and my daughters have pretty much anything they desire, not to mention medical, dental and prescription services, and all of the benefits that come with IBEW membership. I'll never forget that our present good fortune was the result of sacrifices made by my earlier brothers in the IBEW.

I have had many proud moments in my career, but my proudest was traveling to Angola in 2019 to help bring power to a hospital that was off the grid. I was one of four IBEW members chosen by Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson to work alongside Electricians Without Borders Italy, and because I speak Portuguese, I could be of service with our communication while we were there. Over my two-week stay, I learned so much about what we take for granted in our country on a daily basis.

We were in the village of Chiulo, and we worked at a pediatric/maternity hospital that was kept running with diesel generators that were outdated and unreliable. Local 3 Vice-President Louis Alvarez, who had worked humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico and in other countries, led the way. Working with the Italian volunteers, we installed a 50-kW solar grid and renovated the hospital for electricity. We installed circuit boxes and connected the solar array. This work brought reliable electricity for the first time to care for new mothers and their children. It was such a moving experience, one that I'll never forget.

While I don't love talking about myself, I do love the IBEW and will take every opportunity to talk about the ways that it can change lives. It truly has changed mine forever."