Denver Local 111 member Nate Gutierrez was an 18-year old looking to change his life and advance his prospects when he started an apprenticeship with the IBEW. As a journeyman lineman he was working 40 hours a week, but he wanted to do more.
“It’s my place to give back,” he said about his union involvement. So he approached his business manager, a move that would set him on the path to leadership and political activism.
Now Gutierrez is the Local 111 assistant business manager and a member of the RENEW (Reach out and Energize Next-Gen Electrical Workers) Advisory Committee representing the Eighth District, which consists of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The job’s not easy: the geography of the region means he can’t visit locals as often as he wants. He is scheduled to speak about the efforts of RENEW at the Eighth District progress meeting July 27 in Denver.
“I’m very grateful that Eighth District Vice President Jerry Bellah is on board with RENEW,” Gutierrez said. “He’s been really supportive of our efforts.”
Among them is the RENEW toolkit he helped to put together. Almost two years in the making, the 40-page manual contains strategies for members hoping to start their own RENEW chapters, including sections about crafting purpose statements, structuring committees and creating mentoring programs.
Gutierrez hopes greater exposure will enable RENEW to reach a larger audience. “Sometimes there’s hesitation from older members about a young worker movement,” he said. “RENEW is about creating a whole new generation of leaders.”
Gutierrez is active in his own chapter of RENEW, partnering his local’s group with the Colorado Young Workers, a politically active organization of union members from all trades that supports working families from across the state. The CYW, along with RENEW, created a scholarship for young workers to attend the Grace Carroll Rocky Mountain Labor School, a program that trains union workers to become labor activists.
For more information about RENEW and its progress, please visit their Facebook page.