Meet Christopher Longoria – The New Man at the Helm of Transportation
By Evan Henerson
It took awhile for Christopher Longoria to decide to make the leap from contractors to contracts, but the new business agent for IBEW Local 11’s railroads and intelligent transportation unit is enjoying his new post.
There was little doubt that wherever he worked, Longoria would be a committed union man. A third- generation IBEW member, Longoria is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, uncle and several cousins, all of whom were electricians.
“I tried a few other things out, but I ended up in something I knew was going to be able to provide for my family in the long run,” said Longoria. “I was able to use the skills I had obtained through my tenure in other industries to help propel myself through the ranks and ultimately achieve this career milestone with the IBEW.”
Asked about the benefits of a life working union jobs, Longoria – a married father of five children – points to elements such as wages, benefits and job stability.
“My grandfather, Leandro Gutierrez, has passed away, but my grandmother is 102 and she’s still benefiting from my grandfather’s tenure with the IBEW,” said Longoria. “My cousins and I who are all in the trade, understand the benefits of membership and know that as you get older, the ones you hold dear are going to benefit from contributions made during your younger years.”
After completing his apprenticeship, Longoria spent 15 years working with a series of contractors. The work was steady, and Longoria was enjoying his career path with no thoughts of transitioning to a different path. At the same time, he was ramping up his involvement with Local 11, joining the joint apprentice subcommittee and the allocation committee.
As he attended meetings and began talking to more Local 11 officials, Longoria caught the attention of longtime transportation business rep Patrick Owens who marked Longoria as a business agent and potential successor.
“I felt like my career was on a good path on the contractors’ side. I wasn’t really ready to give up my seat at the table,” said Longoria. “Then maybe a year ago, Patrick said, ‘Listen, man, I’m leaving next year, and I really want you in that seat. Let’s sit down and talk a little more about it.’ So we did.”
Ultimately, the enticement of having Owens available as a resource for the first several months during the transition proved to be too difficult to resist, said Longoria who called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Pat has been doing this for something like 30 years, so his institutional knowledge is just incredible,” said Longoria. “It’s like having an on-staff consultant to help me with a lot of these issues for six months, and then I don’t anticipate Pat will be more than a phone call away. I’m a firm believer that the more subject matter experts you have in your corner, the better off you are.”
Since joining the Local 11 staff in April, Longoria has been on the move, attending conferences in Washington, DC, Las Vegas and Sacramento where he heard Governor Gavin Newsom address the IBEW.
“Being able to not only peak behind the curtain and be on the other side of the table has been very enlightening,” said Longoria. I like to say that there’s a list of reasons why I chose to do this job and every day, I add to that list.”
“I could be running jobs, making money on the contractors side,” he continued, “but I’m doing something here that’s going to benefit my membership down the road. We’re planting seeds that are going to bear fruit for years to come.”