The Electrical Worker online
May 2024

My IBEW Story
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John Clyne, line mechanic
Meriden, Conn., Local 457

"I've been a utility lineman for roughly 37 years. I was hired by Eversource Energy as a line mechanic in 2003, though back then it was Connecticut Light and Power. Before that, I worked for another utility in New York and was represented by another union. I much prefer being a member of the IBEW.

My previous employer was nothing less than cruel to me for 16 years, and I left because I wasn't happy anymore. With the IBEW, it's about individuals working together and protecting each other. I have a closer bond with more of my co-workers now than I had before. There's also a better rapport with management, where we try to work issues out before they escalate.

Previously, I was a construction lineman. In Connecticut, I had to learn the job all over again. It was like going from wearing one hat to four hats. I do a lot more: repairs, working with customers, troubleshooting, setting transformers. The work is always varied, and it keeps the job interesting. It's also good for morale.

What most of my co-workers don't know about me is that I'm a person with autism. For those who are unfamiliar, autism is a developmental disorder that affects a person's ability to learn and communicate with others. It's something I was born with, even though I wasn't diagnosed until 18 years ago. I also have other disabilities like dyslexia. I attend support groups for both of these conditions, and the people there are in awe of what I do for a living. They think I'm like Superman for having the success that I do.

Last year, I was tapped to be a trainer and mentor for our new apprentices. I was delighted to be asked. I like meeting new people, and I've always gotten along with our apprentices. I graduated dead last in my class at the previous place. I was also hazed. I always said that if I ever got the chance to mentor new apprentices that I would treat them better. We all break each other's stones, but there's no hazing. We treat them like human beings, and I let them know that I'm always available if they need anything.

I'm no stranger to being held back, but I've got the support of my wife, who I've been married to for 26 years. I've also started to tell a few co-workers about my disabilities, and they've all been supportive and encouraged me to speak out and share my story. You don't make it to my level of success without a few bumps and bruises along the way, but I've got the best job in the world and now I can help others get to where I'm at."