Facebook, the social network with more than 800 million users across the globe, has changed the way the world communicates and stays connected. Fueled by an exponential expansion of its business, the company is building sprawling new computer data centers in Rutherford County, North Carolina. The Tarheel State has the lowest union density in the country, but that didn't stop Facebook from choosing the IBEW to work on the project, valuing the quality and training that comes with a union work force. The job is now creating hundreds of construction jobs in a struggling part of the American South and bringing new members into the union -- changing the lives of N.C. working families for the better.
Forest City, NC, USA
Rutherford County Data Center
Voice of: Clark Poole/Rutherford Co. Chamber of Commerce:
Facebook coming to Rutherford County, it’s bringing jobs, it’s bringing hope, it’s bringing opportunity.
It’s an opportunity to bring hundreds of new members into the IBEW.
The project needs about 300 union electricians.
Matthew Ruff/State Coordinator, IBEW Membership Development:
As an organizer, it’s our job to bring new members into the IBEW and a project like this allows us to do just that.
Industry night is an organizing effort the IBEW developed to reach non-union electricians to go to work on a union job.
We’ve hired all of the qualified individuals in a fairly good-sized radius around this project and we need more.
Dozens of local electricians turn out to apply for the open jobs.
Julian Buchanan/President, IBEW Local 238:
The people here, they lost the textile industry.
Most of the jobs in North Carolina’s textile industry have been sent overseas.
There’s just no work.
This area, this county was approaching 16 or 17 percent unemployment. And that’s overall unemployment, not construction unemployment which is typically nearly twice that.
Josh Wilkie/Job Applicant:
It’s really tough right now. Unless you really know somebody out there, it’s really hard ot get in anywhere. And I would be thrilled if I got this job.
A project like this allows families to earn a living wage and have health insurance.
Dusty Rhodes/Business Manager, IBEW Local 238:
It feels real good that we have an opportunity to put these people to work.
Most of the new hires are working their very first union job.
This is an anti-union county. And we’re coming in and we’re the good guys finally. In North Carolina we don’t have many chances to do something like this.
Josh Rhodes/Organizer, IBEW Local 238:
We’re bringing jobs back, so they’re seeing a different side of unions. Hopefully it’s changing their viewpoints on it.
The IBEW also formed an unusual partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce.
They have an interest in their people and their community going to work. We have an interest in putting them to work.
A project like this coming to our area brings hope because it’s bringing jobs.
We’re seeing a lot of people’s lives positively effected. And we’re allowing the community to do a lot for itself. It feels great.
© 2012 IBEW Media Department