For Local 11’s Jennifer Murphy, Caring is Part of the Job
By Oren Peleg
Local 11’s Jennifer Murphy can’t not care.
Murphy’s story of how her recent chance encounter with an unhoused man on the street outside Los Angeles City Hall led to a full-day’s journey to connect him with a social worker and find him a shower is a prime example.
“I took a day of my own personal leave to help him,” Murphy said. So, it’s no surprise that Murphy, an electrician supervisor for the city and an IBEW journeyman inside wireman, recently stepped up to speak up for her brothers and sisters who struggle to find scarce job site parking in downtown L.A.
“During COVID, [the City] allowed people to park in City Hall East with no restrictions,” Murphy said. “Anybody with a city badge could come in.” Since most employees were working remotely, the typically precious parking spaces were plentiful. But as more remote workers returned to the office over the last year, newer employees and lower-paid staff were pushed out.
Murphy started making inquiries and investigating affordable parking locations downtown. The cheapest option she found was several hundred dollars a month and still required workers to walk alone in pre-dawn hours through downtown.
“When there’s anybody who doesn’t feel safe walking, what is that person supposed to do?” Murphy asked. “Right now, everybody’s kind of looking out for their friends, everybody’s waiting for their friends and walking in little packs, little groups – but it’s just untenable.”
Murphy decided to do something about it.
She contacted the Mayor’s office, which recommended she raise the issue with the City Council. So, she did – not once, but on three separate occasions in March alone. Murphy even proposed solutions, including allowing city employees to drive city vehicles to and from work since all municipal vehicles have designated parking, and even instituting a shuttle system.
“I’m not trying to solve all the world’s problems, and I don’t even think that I can solve all of our parking problems,” Murphy said. “But I am trying to get the city to step up and recognize that this is an unsolved problem that leads to suffering.”
Although the Council has not acted on her requests or recommendations – “No city councilmember has gotten back to me despite these beautiful packets that I gave them” – Murphy remains undaunted.
Murphy doesn’t consider herself an activist but rather “an involved member who cares.” Still, Murphy’s activist core runs deep. In 2010, Murphy joined Jane Templin, former Local 11 vice president, at a grassroots political training school held by former California governor Jerry Brown. Murphy is also married to Anthy Hadjimarkos, Chair of IBEW 11’s EMPOWER mentoring program run by the ETI, whose mission is to recruit, retain, and support female apprentices and journey-level workers.
Murphy embraces Local 11 Business Manager Joël Barton’s mission to recruit and retain more female apprentices and journey-level workers and increase the number of women members to 10 percent by 2024. Local 11’s current construction female membership is around 3 percent and 4.5 percent among apprentices.
“There are jobs in the electrical industry for people of all body types,” Murphy said. Some tasks require heavy lifting, but “there are times when I have had to crawl into a hole that was 12 inches by 12 inches.” There are opportunities for everyone, she says, and a well-paying career is available for men and women in the electrical industry.
“When things are nicer for women, they’re nicer for everyone,” Murphy said. “They really are.”