By Oren Peleg
In the summer of 2016, ground broke on the new Civic Center project that aimed to transform downtown Long Beach and better serve local businesses and residents. Now, a dedicated crew of highly skilled IBEW 11 members working for Telenet VoIP Inc. are putting the finishing touches on Long Beach’s new city hall, port headquarters and main library branch.
The project is currently on track for a mid-2019 opening and it’s thanks in large part to the union-trained electricians and low voltage system technicians wiring and connecting the data centers that will power servers, lighting systems, security systems and much more.
As they near completion on the Civic Center project, IBEW 11 members took some time to share what their union involvement has meant to them, their families and their way of life.
Salvador Pinto, 29
IBEW 11 member for 8 years
“Union life has treated me very well. I have a daughter with special needs so having the awesome benefits has helped me out tremendously when it comes to taking care of her and providing her with everything she needs. I have no complaints. This is the perfect place for me. I love this job and love doing what I do every day.”
Miguel Lizaola, 55,
IBEW 11 member for 13 years
“There’s something different everyday and you get to learn new things all the time. I like the challenges of the job, figuring out pathways and dressing cable. Not to mention, being in the union is amazing. I love it. My wife and I get the incredible medical insurance. It also helps me take care of my three kids and my seven grandchildren.”
Jose Sierra, 40,
IBEW 11 member for 15 years
“My family and I enjoy such good benefits, including health, dental and vision. But one of the biggest things for me is that, as a union member, I never have to find myself worrying about things like my pay. I never stress about not getting paid or not getting my rate. There’s just a sense of security. I don’t have to fight for jobs or my rights. On any site, any job I’m working, I’m going to get my rate and get paid on time.”
Antonio Nazario, 39
IBEW 11 member for 12 years
“It has benefited me a lot, being in the union. Just the health benefits alone have been so great for my two kids. My wife gave birth to both of my kids after I joined, so my union membership has really helped us a lot. I was in a union before this when I worked for Food 4 Less, so I’ve pretty much always worked union jobs. It’s so important. Membership helps set you up for retirement with great plans. At some jobs you have to beg for raises. Here, with IBEW 11, we’ve got a great team helping take care of negotiations and things like that.”
Pedro Villegas, 32
IBEW 11 member for 4 years
“Being in the union has helped opened a lot of doors. Before joining the union, I was working a non-union job in a warehouse. I got into this and got to do something more, something better. I’m working in schools, working on cool projects like this one. I love it. It was the benefits that drew me to it. My friend told me this was a better opportunity to move up in life. You can go to school and become a foreman or project manager. The union has classes and resources to help you move up. That’s my goal.”
Bertin Martinez, 38
IBEW 11 member for 2 years
“It has benefited me a lot. Without the union, raising my two boys would be a whole lot tougher. Here, I have great health insurance, a pension, and I always have a job. It’s an honest living and I love coming to work everyday. At the end of the day, you’ve always got to take pride in your work. I really do here with my brothers and sisters in IBEW 11.”