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Watch this great new video on IBEW Local 11's effort to recruit veterans into our apprenticeship program. This is a long term commitment by the unionized electrical construction industry in Los Angeles to provide middle class jobs to our nation's heroes when they choose to return home.More
Local 11 Members Build Wilshire Grand
By Kelly Candaele
Third year apprentices Ricardo Rodriquez thought he was going to be an animator or artist when he graduated high school. He was good with his hands and liked to draw. But after an initial experience as an animator, it tuned out that the reality of drawing for animation was not what he imagined.
Ricardo found his way to the IBEW apprenticeship program and I working every day at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. “I like this work,” Ricardo said recently during a lunch break on the job. Sitting with half a dozen other IBEW members who are working on the hotel, he talked about why he likes the work. “Its faced paced, I’m not sitting around all day in an office and I learn something every day that I come to work,” he said.
Rodriquez is one of many Local 11 members who are working on what will become an iconic building in Los Angeles. When finished, the 73-story building will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi and will create thousands of jobs for construction workers during the three years of construction. Hundreds of Local 11 members will be employed on the project as it moves forward.
Tim McArdle is another apprentice who was working in one of the underground parking structures on the day a film crew that is documenting the project visited the site. During his break, McArdle talked about the pride he has in his work and the quality that he brings to every project. “We have to make sure that the continuity in the wire is good so that when we actually energize the system we won’t have any shorts,” he said. “For me its an issue of pride. I’m able to go to bed at night knowing I’ve done a solid day’s work, knowing that I’ve worked to the best of my ability.”
The Wilshire Grand project is being done under a project labor agreement that assures that union labor will be utilized and that the contractor bidding is done on a level playing field.
Paolo Degrassi, Division Manager for Rosendin Electric, sees the project as a win-win for labor and the contractor. “We need the highest skilled electricians for a job like this,” Degrassi said. “We expect a lot from the workers out of Local 11, but we also know that they work hard, work safely and work efficiently.”
Local 11 apprentice Yvonne Rojo, who is new to the project, is one of only four women on the job site so far. Her fellow union members have welcomed her and helped to orient her to the new job site. “I’m learning something every day and its such an exciting place to be,” she said.
Journeyman Dino Degrassi spoke with the Local 11 camera crew as he moved along the deck pulling wire and securing circuit boxes. He talked about the importance of working closely with apprentices and about the choices he has made in his career. “It’s great to see what you’ve done.” Pointing to a building off in the distance he summed up his feelings. “There’s a great sense of pride when you put stuff together.”
When the building is complete in 2017, the documentary film will screen at a theater where all of the workers who worked on the building will be invited. Stay tuned.More
What is a union? Members describe what a union is and what a union does.More