VIDEO: 2021 State of the (IBEW 569) Union

2021_state_of_the_ibew_569_union

February 11, 2021

IBEW 569, Building and Construction Trade Unions, and our skilled and trained workforce stand strong to support local hire and local jobs, protect worker safety, create solid middle-class career paths, and deliver constructions projects that are on time and under budget.

The following State of the Union speech was given by IBEW 569 Business Manager Jeremy Abrams at our Union Meeting on February 10, 2021.


2021 State of the Union

Hello Sisters and Brothers – Jeremy Abrams, your Business Manager.

Today, I give you our own State of the Union – where we outline our IBEW 569 priorities and goals, and power up a path of success for our union, our members, and our families.

COVID and IBEW 569

First, let’s address what has most impacted everything and everyone in 2020 and continues into 2021: COVID.

It has been almost a full year since the pandemic – and we’ve had to pivot to protect one another from catching or spreading this virus. 

We successfully advocated early on to allow for construction to continue and for us to be deemed “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” – and we kept our Hall open and continued to put our members to work.

We also sought to protect our members’ health and welfare by collaborating on a regional Construction Industry COVID Safety Plan and demanded that PPE and masks be provided to all members and that jobsites adhere to new safety regulations.

Additionally, our IBEW 569 business agents have been responding to member calls on COVID exposures - and helping to get wages and benefits paid.

Now we have a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine -  we will continue to advocate that all Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers be prioritized soon for the vaccine. Until then, please continue to practice social distancing and wearing your mask on the jobsite.

Both San Diego and Imperial Counties are still in the Purple Tier – meaning COVID cases are widespread. If we want to continue to work, as essential workers, we must all be on guard to protect ourselves and one another.

Work Safe, Be Safe and Stay Safe!

I thank all our members for everything you did to keep construction going - and adhere to new policies and precautions to keep all of us safe. 

You were amazingly successful – and I am pleased to announce that we have broken our membership record – IBEW presently has 3,617 members – we have grown our membership across all the board.

And last year IBEW 569 members collectively worked 4,528,187 man hours.

WORK OUTLOOK

It’s always our goal to secure every possible hour of electrical and low-voltage work for our members. And we have been very successful in securing work for our members both with project labor agreements (PLAs).

Between the Airport expansion, Pure Water Phase 1, SDSU West stadium, the Riverwalk development, downtown high rises, Chula Vista Bayfront and school construction, there is easily $20 billion worth of work recently negotiated for our union members.

As Tom Lemmon of the San Diego Building Trades Council recently reminded us, “Make no mistake that the future is going to be different and jobs will change, but much like the Teamsters did when they switched from 20 mule teams to trucks, we will be able to adapt, retool, and re-train.”

The new green economy will provide new opportunities for growth, which I’ll touch on later, but now more than ever, we need to prepare our membership to be ready to accept the new challenges, training, and safety measures that these jobs and innovations will bring. There is much work on the horizon that will be electric vehicle infrastructure – so please make sure your get your EVITP training and certification, like I am right now.

Again, to sum up last year, our membership worked and logged over 4.5 million hours last year,

And in 2020, we welcomed 381 new brothers and sisters to our union, and organized 9 shops. IBEW 569 is standing strong with 3,617 members, of which 442 are apprentices and being trained to join you as the best in the electrical industry.

Our organizing efforts to sign more contractors is a top priority of ALL staff – and earlier this month we signed a new solar and storage contractor that is bidding work at the City of San Diego and in Imperial County - and they wanted to ensure their ability to staff up all their construction needs.

And we’re putting in extra time and more resources to defend our scope of work.

For too long, the Laborers Local 89 have claimed our work, including conduit, and they have snuck under radar stealing IBEW work.  This misclassification of workers undercuts our contractors and members. And this stops NOW. 

As President of the San Diego Building Trades, I am going to protect the scope and jurisdiction of IBEW work as well as that of the other trades and affiliates – we’re going to rise-up to defend our work and industry.

MEMBER REPRESENTATION

A big focus of mine continues to be better representation for our members. We have two Business Agents to ensure your concerns and issues are being addressed quickly, and we just hired another business agent – Hector Meza – to better help represent our members in Imperial Valley.

I thank all the members that have contacted our Halls with issues to resolve – we must be militant to uphold our contract, our compensation, and jobsite safety.

Our Labor Compliance Department is also up and running investigating claims and getting wages to workers that were misclassified or wronged.

We have filed four claims with the labor commissioner’s office to date, all of which are still under investigation. The claims heavily demonstrate violations of apprenticeship standards, as well as misclassification of work (i.e. electrical work being performed by other trades). Our Labor Compliance Department is currently monitoring 95 active cases, which will hopefully result in making our members whole.

We were also successful in having C-10 contractor language incorporated into the contracting practices of public agencies to help ensure our scope of work stays with IBEW and that electrical work is done by a skilled and trained workforce.

We are always open to take tips or leads from members at any time!

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

With COVID, our community outreach and engagement became constrained. 

In 2019, our Electrical Training Institute organized 173 outreach events, and directly shared apprenticeship opportunities to ‘learn while you earn’ with 15,554 people.

But with the pandemic in 2020, we had to again pivot – and ETI hosted or participated in 107 online events and communicated with 6,374 people - and we hosted with our EWMC and the San Diego Building Trades the first ever drive through apprenticeship career fair, which we will again be doing this year.

IBEW 569 is also known for giving back to our communities – and our members volunteered countless hours distributing food to thousands of hungry families impacted by the pandemic in both San Diego and Imperial Counties with the Labor Council.

It’s because of our community impact that others take notice and respect IBEW 569 - so please continue to give back and stay involved and help us build stronger communities.

GREEN ENERGY

Renewable energy and energy storage continue to be a high priority for the Local and we are pursuing Agreements right now on several utility-scale projects in both San Diego and Imperial Counties.

We secured a PLA on the 140 MW Valley Center battery storage project – and it has broken ground and we expect members on the job in the coming weeks.

We have a 40 MW energy storage project under a PLA in Fallbrook currently bidding, and – some really exciting news- I am finalizing signatures on a 2 GIGAWATT energy storage project in Imperial County - this will be the largest project of its kind ever in our jurisdiction.

Very similar to the major changes we saw about ten years ago with the rise of renewable energy and climate change, we are also seeing a global shift in transportation.

Governor Newsom issued an executive order calling for all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California by 2035 to be electric and zero-emission. Auto makers are starting to follow this trend and other states and countries are looking at similar targets.

The clean transportation economy will provide new electrical industry jobs - and our Local Union continues to be on the cutting edge of organizing this work to create opportunities for our members.

Last year, we successfully passed our priority legislation – AB 841. This creates thousands of work hours for IBEW members to advance electric vehicle infrastructure and energy efficiency in schools. Within this legislation is an EVITP (Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program) requirement for EV infrastructure construction and installation. More work for IBEW electricians!

We also were part of a statewide coalition to help pass the nation’s first Advanced Clean Trucks standard which means more work opportunities building charging infrastructure.

And, we secured workforce language at MTS - so as they transition to zero-emission buses, their charging infrastructure will be built by EVITP-certified electricians.

We are only beginning to see the exciting new work opportunities clean transportation will create for our IBEW members, and we know there is more on the horizon.

Again, much of this work will be building EV infrastructure, so please make sure your get your EVITP training and certification.

CONTRACT NEGOTIATION

We’re right back into it again. At the forefront of our 2021 priorities will be the negotiation of a new Inside Contract.

I am pleased to announce the members of our 2021 Inside Negotiating Committee: Joe Heisler, Chad Barclay, William Stedham, Joe Page, Alexander Hernandez, and myself. The Committee is made up from both San Diego and Imperial Valley, and these members bring excellent ideas and experience to the table.

With the Inside Agreement expiring in May, we are getting to work on a new contract quickly. Thank you to all the members that completed our survey – be sure to wear your new hardhat stickers “IBEW 569 Needs Another Raise” with pride!

We look forward to negotiating the best contract for IBEW 569 members.

LONG TERM GOALS

We’re kicking off a new set of long term goals to achieve success over the next 5 years:

  • Increase IBEW 569’s market share to 50%
  • Increase our annual man hours worked to 5 million hours
  • Increase our membership to 5,000 members.

We’re going to need you and everyone working together to accomplish these long-term goals – but we can do it in solidarity and unity.

I want to thank our Executive Board for their tremendous work to keep our union strong. They volunteer to make sure our members get the benefits, recognition, and representation you deserve.

I also want to thank our IBEW 569 staff. Much of our accomplishments are attributed to their hard work. We’ve got some of the best minds on our staff, and they are dedicated to growing our union and getting more work for our members.

2020 was a difficult but highly productive year and we’re heading into 2021 as a stronger Local thanks to YOU and your hard work! We’re going to need your help to keep our momentum going.

By continuing to strengthen our brotherhood, and showing solidarity, we’ll get more work and continue being the best in the industry.

Thank you, again, and let’s power up 2021!