By Evan Henerson
As part of its continuing series introducing the membership to their executive board, News @ 11 recently spoke to Los Angeles native and 3-year board member Virgle Benson about work, play and “keeping the lights on” at City Hall.
Q: Tell us about the work you do for the city
Virgle Benson: I’m an electrician at City Hall. I do everything from fixtures to lighting control systems. There are devices that change the lights all around the building, so for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they turn City Hall pink. I work on garage doors and roll-up gates. Anything you can think of around the building, we’re doing it.
Q: How did you get into the profession?
VB: I was doing building maintenance at a senior living facility in Santa Monica and we had to be a jack-of-all-trades there. In 2012, I found out about the Local 11 apprenticeship program, and the field I gravitated toward the most was electrical, and that’s what I wanted to learn the most about. I jumped in.
Q: What were some of the other places you worked prior to joining the city?
VB: I worked for Morrow-Meadows, CSI, Rosendin, pretty much all the big ones. On my first trip to the hall, I signed the Civil Service book just thinking, ‘what the hell?’ A call from the city came in and I lived close to downtown anyway. It was the best call I have ever taken.
Q: What are some of the things you like about the job?
VB: You get more hands-on with a lot of stuff. Usually in our field, you’re dealing from the ground up. In this case, the building is already up and we’re maintaining it.
Q: Has there been any disruption in your work since the pandemic?
VB: They basically changed our shift so a lot of us weren’t around each other. In the midst of COVID, we went on a 3-10 with a telecommute day for most of last year. I loved it. They sent us on a lot of training because they wanted us to be up to date. So we would get on the computers and be doing training on the days we were out.
Q: What made you decide to seek election to the executive board and deepen your involvement with the union?
VB: I started going to union meetings, learning the ins and outs. This was new to me, so I tried to suck up as much information as I could. This was my way of giving back.
Q: How do you mean?
VB: Every time I would get a chance to go to one of our PAC trips to Washington DC, or Sacramento, I would go and give my time to serve my union better. I make it a point to try to represent my union the best way possible.
Q: Do you have a family?
VB: I have a fiancée. We’re engaged. No children yet.
Q: Outside of work, what are some of the things you like doing?
VB: I have dogs, so I like to take them hiking. I love going to the beach. I love cars, motorcycles and going to the gun range. And vacationing. I always make it a point to go on at least one nice trip each year. I’ve been to Paris, Amsterdam, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Kenya, Egypt, Israel. I’m going to Cancun in a few weeks.
Q: What would you like the membership of Local 11 to know about you?
VB: That I’m here to serve them. Any time they have a question, they can come right up to me and ask me. If I don’t have the answer, I can definitely find out and get right back to them in a timely manner. I’m just here to serve the membership.