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February 2021

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A Commitment to Excellence

In this month's cover story, you'll read about the remarkable turnaround of Entergy's Arkansas Nuclear One generating station in Russellville, Ark.

Seven years ago, the plant was in trouble. A handful of accidents had put Arkansas's only nuclear facility in real danger of being forcibly closed, and the culture there reflected the stress everyone was under.

But Entergy and the men and women of Little Rock Local 647 made a decision to recommit to the plant, to the community and to the importance of nuclear power in their state.

In 2016, they turned to the Code of Excellence, and the result has been one of the most amazing success stories I've seen in my time as president of the IBEW.

Just a few years ago, both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations ranked ANO just a single point above their lowest ratings. With the help of the Code, management and labor learned how to talk to one another again, and in an incredibly short period of time, the plant achieved top ratings from both the NRC and INPO.

This was exactly what my predecessor Ed Hill hoped for when he rolled out the Code of Excellence more than a decade ago. And it's the kind of success story that continues to make the Code one of the most valuable tools in our toolbox.

Customers and employers can take one look at the values of the Code of Excellence — safety, professionalism, accountability, relationships and quality — and know exactly what we at the IBEW stand for.

The Code makes a huge difference when our contractors are bidding construction jobs, but it also shows employers in our other branches what can be achieved when we work together, not against one another.

Entergy proved that at Arkansas Nuclear One when they embraced the relationship with Local 647 and worked together to turn things around. In no one's wildest dreams did they think they'd achieve success so quickly, but we're so proud that they have.

And while the results may not be as dramatic everywhere the Code is being implemented, I want you to know that it's working. I hear it from members and local leaders and even CEOs, who tell me what a difference it makes.

The thing is, there's nothing complicated about the Code of Excellence. It's a commitment from both management and workers to give 100% on the job every day. But it's also more than that.

That shared commitment is a starting point for conversations; an opportunity to get beyond the typical labor-management back-and-forth and actually listen to what really matters to both sides. The Code builds relationships and open channels of communication, and that's what really solves problems, both big — like the ones in Arkansas — and small.

When I started this job, I made expanding implementation of the Code of Excellence one of my top priorities, and I'm so proud of what you all have accomplished. But now's not the time to let up.

Thank you all for your commitment to excellence on the job every day, and let's keep bringing the Code of Excellence to every workplace and every employer in this great union.


Also: Cooper: The Power of Union Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President