The IBEW’s benefit funds had a change in leadership March 1, but members can be forgiven if they missed it.
|Darrin Golden, the new head of the NEBF, NEAP, FMCP and NEFP, brings a wealth of experience to the role.
For years, Larry Bradley was the steady hand behind the funds managed jointly by the IBEW and the union’s partners at the National Electrical Contractors Association: the National Electric Benefit Fund, or NEBF; the National Electrical Annuity Plan, or NEAP; the Family Medical Care Plan, or FMCP; and the National Electric 401(k) Plan, or NEFP.
Now, he’s stepping down, replaced by Darrin Golden, the IBEW’s former — and first ever — chief of staff.
“Your hard-earned benefits are a promise that we’ll take care of you and your family in sickness and retirement,” said International President Kenneth W. Cooper. “You trust us to make sure the people managing your benefits have your best interests at heart, so we worked hard to make this transition go as smoothly as possible.”
Bradley announced his intent to retire eight months ahead of time, allowing Golden the opportunity to get up to speed.
“Larry’s been a great teacher during this transition,” said Golden, a member of Rockford, Ill., Local 364 who has worked at the International Office in Washington, D.C., for nearly 10 years. “He’s always on the other end of the phone when I call.”
For almost eight decades, the NEBF has been a traditional pension, or defined-benefit retirement plan, for inside wiremen. Through wise investments, the fund has become one of the most robust multi-employer plans in the U.S. The latest figures show more than 648,000 IBEW members participating, with just over 164,000 retirees or surviving spouses receiving benefits.
Established in 1973, the defined-contribution NEAP, geared primarily to outside wire and utility members, helps the IBEW provide supplemental retirement, disability and other benefits. Recent figures show that the NEAP has almost 153,000 participants.
The FMCP was launched in 2006 to help give members and their families comprehensive, low-cost health care benefits, providing locals and signatory contractors an alternative to offering the benefit themselves. At last count, the FMCP represents 185 locals, 254 bargaining units and 437 single-employer organizations — including seven Fortune 500 companies. This translates to just over 106,000 member and family participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Guaranteeing a secure future requires multiple tools and strategies, so the IBEW inaugurated the NEFP in 2008 as a way for members and signatory employers to boost their retirement savings through a traditional 401(k) plan.
Golden has an impressive resume. After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, he followed his father into the IBEW. He was initiated into the union in 1991 but spent another four years in the Navy Reserve during his apprenticeship, using the G.I. Bill to help pay for night classes.
He held several leadership roles at Local 364, including 16 years as a trustee and chairman of Local 364’s benefit funds. In 2007, Golden became business manager; the following year, he was appointed to serve on the Council on Industrial Relations, the IBEW-NECA body that facilitates the resolution of labor disputes in the electrical trade. Golden’s exemplary performance on the panel caught International President Edwin D. Hill’s attention, and in 2013 Hill appointed him as an international representative with the CIR/Bylaws and Appeals Department. A year later, Hill promoted him to director of the department.
In 2017, International President Lonnie R. Stephenson appointed Golden as senior executive assistant to then-International Secretary-Treasurer Cooper, whose office, among other things, manages billions of benefit-fund dollars.
“I got to know Larry and the funds that way,” Golden said. “I also worked really closely with Kenny, and we became good friends.”
In 2020, Golden was appointed senior executive assistant to both Stephenson and Cooper. A year later, he was named chief of staff.
Golden now works closely with International Secretary-Treasurer Paul Noble, a fellow Illinoisan who was business manager of West Frankfort Local 702 around the time that Golden led Local 364.
“Because Darrin comes from an IBEW family, he knows how important these plans and funds are to every participant,” said Noble, noting that Golden’s younger brother, Alan, is now Local 364’s business manager. “I worked with Darrin a lot back in Illinois, and I’m looking forward to working with him here to serve IBEW members across the country.”
Bradley worked with the NECA chapter that covers IBEW locals and contractors in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey for 27 years, the last 18 of those as executive director,
“I started in the mailroom, right out of high school,” Bradley said. “I grew up in the business.”
At NECA, Bradley had some measure of oversight on more than 40 benefit funds. His careful stewardship prompted leaders of the IBEW and NECA who serve as each fund’s trustees to tap him in 2002 to head up the NEBF and the NEAP and to be executive secretary-treasurer of the FMCP, and later the NEFP. In 2011, he became the health plan’s executive director.
“The first thing we did was work on the culture, to create a culture of caring and to remember what we do and who we do it for. We brought in electrical workers and business managers and told our people: ‘This is who you’re working for,’” Bradley recalled. “We made care a priority. We said, ‘It’s not about paper; it’s about people.’”
Golden praised his predecessor. “We’ve had a great leader in Larry,” he said, calling Bradley “a living legend” who commands equal respect from the IBEW and NECA.
Bradley likewise had good things to say about Golden. “Darrin is quite a visionary,” said Bradley, who was granted honorary IBEW membership by International President Cooper in January during the union’s annual benefits conference. Bradley plans to spend his retirement with his wife, Nancy, and their four children and seven grandchildren, and to hone his craft as a magician.
Golden holds bachelor’s degrees in union leadership and administration and a master’s degree in public administration. He and his wife, Tracy, have three children.
While Golden understands that tens of thousands of IBEW members and their families are depending on him, his new role still retains a personal element.
“I have the absolute privilege to deliver on the promises I made back when I was an organizer,” Golden said. “And my dad was a longtime member; I would never do anything to jeopardize his or anyone else’s benefits.”
For more information, visit nebf.com, nebf.com/neap, nebf.com/fmcp or ourbenefitoffice.com/nefp/benefits.