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March 2017

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IBEW Electrician/Congressman Appointed to
Labor-Focused Committee

New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross — the only active member of the IBEW in Congress — has been appointed to serve on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

The Education and Workforce Committee oversees all government programs related to education as well as health care, job training and retirement security for workers. It was called the Education and Labor Committee until the Republican majority renamed it in 2010.

Norcross, who was elected to his second term in Congress last fall, will be the only union member to serve on the committee.

"It's an honor to represent New Jersey's working families on the Education and Workforce Committee. This is a continuation of my lifelong fight to defend hardworking men and women and make certain that every person has the dignity of a good paying job," Norcross said in a statement.

A journeyman inside wireman and member of Folsom, N.J., Local 351, Norcross worked with the tools for a decade on commercial and industrial construction projects across the state. When Local 351 was formed by the amalgamation of the three south New Jersey locals in 2001, then-business manager Eddie Gant hired Norcross to be the local's business agent on the west side of the state.

"There are plenty of business owners in Congress, alongside all the bankers and the lawyers, but there are precious few who worked with their hands and their minds for a living. It is incredibly important that we have one of our brothers in the room when laws are being made," said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.

Norcross was elected to Congress in a 2014 special election after serving four years as a state senator. In his first term in Washington, Norcross was appointed to the Democratic House leadership, introduced legislation to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, fought the Trans-Pacific Partnership and formed the bipartisan Building Trades Caucus.


New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross, a journeyman inside wireman from Folsom Local 351, has been appointed to the House Education and Workforce Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal agencies that affect hundreds of millions of American workers.

Millennial Minority Workers Look Forward
While Giving Back

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.

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 the young members group of the EWMC. "It also builds camaraderie among members. I've met people from across the country."

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 members 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."


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