By Evan Henerson
You will find Manny Solis in many places.
Since 2019, he has been a Local 11 District 2 business representative overseeing refineries, which makes sense as Solis spent a lot of his early apprenticeship years working in refineries. Solis also checks in with the Local 11 members who work on construction projects at schools within District 2, covering Long Beach, San Pedro and Carson.
Given his shuttling around the territory, would it be fair to characterize Solis as a “Manny” on the move?
“To say the least,” agreed Solis. “There’s not one day where I’m not moving around from one city to the next, talking to members, talking to the owners of companies that employ our members, the superintendents, general foreman and field personnel. I’m talking to the members who are working these projects and making sure everything is up to snuff with their pay, with the way they’re being treated, and making sure the employer is following all the rules.”
Outside of his job site visits, Solis does his part to bring in and acclimate new Local 11 members. He has served as the chairman on the examining board, proctoring journeyman-level exams for the men and women who are coming from non-union employment into Local 11. In his volunteer work with the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, Solis has tutored individuals who are looking to get into the union’s apprenticeship program, making sure they have the knowledge they need to pass the entrance exam.
“Volunteering and giving back to this local union is my calling,” said Solis. “Giving of yourself comes from my family background. My mother and father were always helping people in the community, helping those who were less fortunate and finding ways to make their lives better. My wife and I do that, too. It fills one’s heart with joy to be able to help somebody.”
Solis was almost destined for a different career path. The son of a cement and stone mason, Solis would accompany his father and brothers to job sites, where the family would build block walls, brick planter boxes and driveways. Solis discovered he loved using his hands and his body in physical ways through construction. Building, he noted, is in his family’s genes.
But while visiting the McDonnel Douglas manufacturing building in Long Beach, Solis noticed a group of electricians putting up lights. The work looked fascinating to Solis, who asked the workers what they were doing and how one could move into that kind of a career.
“They said they were IBEW Local 11,” Solis recalled.
Solis did his homework, discovered the union’s apprenticeship program, applied and was accepted. As an apprentice, he worked at various refineries and with LA Metro. He continued his education as a journeyman, eventually getting his certification in instrumentation controls. Gradually, he moved up through the ranks to foreman and general foreman, running major projects within power plants, water treatment facilities and refineries.
Married and a father of three with two grandsons, Solis has been more than happy to pass on the knowledge he has gained over his decades spent as a journeyman wireman. He acquired a California Career Technical Education Teaching Credential through the University of San Diego and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He also earned a high-voltage splicing certification through the IBEW in advanced classes, which, along with the instrumentation certification, were both completed at the ETI — the same place where he later became a teacher.
“I do miss the teaching quite a bit, and I miss putting my hands on the tools and building,” Solis said. “Every aspect of this trade is fulfilling, and the part that’s most fulfilling is knowing that you’re able to help somebody along on their journey.”