The young members of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus are growing their ranks and the next generation of the IBEW, and that includes a commitment to service.

Apprentice members of Los Angeles Local 11, Jeffery Henderson (left) and Errol Cutley, speak at the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus conference.

On Jan. 12, these millennial members joined in the annual EWMC conference’s day of service, held each year around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor the civil rights leader’s legacy. At sites around southern California, some volunteered their skills doing repairs on veterans’ homes while others went to local food banks where they filled almost 1,600 boxes, each with enough food to feed someone for a month.

“It’s a great way to get involved in the community and it paints unions in a better light,” said Alton Wilkerson, president of EWMC RENEW, the young members group of the EWMC. “It also builds camaraderie among members. I’ve met people from across the country and we still keep in touch.”

Meeting on the first day of the conference, the young members also attended workshops on educating members about the IBEW and encouraging involvement in their unions.  

“It’s about empowering young workers, especially those who may not see themselves as leaders,” Wilkerson said.

The group’s goals for the year include increasing the number of members and their activism, said Wilkerson, and instituting a challenge among chapter heads for recruitment, offering some friendly competition. They also plan to implement a mentoring program for seasoned leaders to provide advice to newer members.

“These people will stay in contact on a consistent basis,” Wilkerson said. “They’ll be there for guidance and whatever the members need to be successful.”

A member of Los Angeles Local 11, Wilkerson was appointed EWMC RENEW president at the conference. As president, he also serves on the RENEW/NextGen Advisory Committee. RENEW/NextGen is IBEW’s initiative focused on young members.

As members of the EWMC, the young group shares a commitment to equal rights and opportunities for minority workers. 

Wilkerson says his group is committed to doing its part, which entails fostering new leaders and increasing the representation of people of color in IBEW leadership.

“We’re building the next generation,” Wilkerson said. “We’re providing the tools that let them know they have a voice.”