Business Manager’s Message — March 2021

Business Manager’s Message — March 2021

Encouraging News on the Horizon

After more than a year of a worldwide pandemic, lockdowns and slowdowns, things are finally starting to look up. Vaccines are being distributed at a record pace, new work projects are on the horizon, and Los Angeles is now in the red tier and on its way to orange.

In other big news, IBEW Local 11 is opening two new offices – one in the South Bay, the other, coming soon, to Diamond Bar in District 6. These two new dispatch halls have been a long time coming. In some instances, it has been more than 10 years since we had halls to call our own in these two areas. Congratulations to everyone on the IBEW 11 team who made this a reality!

At our South Bay office grand opening on March 5, I was pleased to host Torrance Mayor Pat Furey who welcomed IBEW Local 11 to his city with open arms and a certificate of recognition. Dispatch is scheduled to start out of that office sometime in April. I am also pleased to report that we have signed a lease for our Eastern Region members in District 6 and construction has begun. We’re targeting mid-May for our District 6 office to open.

More good news is on the horizon with our LA Electrical Workers Credit Union. Members will soon be able to get their vacation funds faster! Previously the credit union dispersed funds twice a year in June and December. Now, under new changes voted on by the credit union’s Board of Directors, members will have access to their funds on a regular basis and can withdraw their money whenever they need it. You may never need to take a vacation loan again. This is one more way we are striving to make your union benefits even more valuable.

However, we still have more work to do. The pandemic has been very challenging for us on several fronts. While many of us were fortunate enough to be deemed Essential Workers and could continue working, the situation has been more problematic with our apprentices during this time. One of the biggest challenges has been keeping the ETI operating at the same pre-pandemic level and helping our apprentices continue their upgrades and education.

I have heard from many of you about the challenges at the ETI. I want you to know that we are meeting regularly with our apprentices, and recently hosted a virtual town hall meeting where those members could air their concerns. Thank you all for attending. We hear you. We are working hard to find solutions and will keep you informed via email as we make progress on these issues.

There is no doubt the apprenticeship has changed quite a bit since I went through the program. When I was a 23-year old, first-year apprentice, my first journeyman was Burt Burrows. We were working at an IBM plant with about 300 IBEW electricians on the project. Burt taught me about the brotherhood (and sisterhood). As was customary back then, I carried his lunch and toolbox, and if we went out for lunch, he never let me pay. Sometimes, on the weekends, he hosted BBQs at his place. I have lots of appreciation for what Burt taught me.

After I turned out, I worked at the Peter Pitchess Detention Center as a young journeyman. Jody Lee was assigned as my apprentice and I was his first journeyman. Jody was a first generation IBEW member. My first journeyman had taught me plenty about the trade and I made it a point to do the same with Jody. He has successfully worked in Local 11 for over 30 years. I know we all believe that we must teach the newcomers.

Which brings me to vaccines and the need for our members and their families to get their shots once they are eligible. IBEW 11 is lobbying very diligently to make sure that our Essential Worker status translates into getting the vaccine eligibility sooner. The quicker we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can all get back to normal.

More than two million Los Angeles County residents have already been vaccinated, and plans are underway to ramp up the number of doses administered each week. I’m pleased to report I got my vaccine in March, the week after my 65th birthday. I encourage you to do the same. #TakeTheVaccine.

If you find you need help during these trying times, we have hardship funds set up in each of our districts to help. Don’t hesitate to ask your union brothers and sisters for assistance. That’s why we call it a brotherhood and sisterhood. We are family, here for you in good times and bad.

As always, it is a pleasure and honor to serve as your Business Manager. I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me to lead this great local union. We will prevail through these very challenging times and come out stronger for it.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay union strong!

In Solidarity,
Joël Barton
IBEW 11 Business Manager