Message from Business Manager Chris Erikson
We face challenges these days. We have not yet recovered from the pandemic, which has had a profound effect on our work opportunity. There is continued encroachment by open shop contractors that started long before Covid. And the rise in inflation has impacted interest rates, slowing the start of many jobs that were in the pipeline. All of this has contributed to long-term unemployment in our construction branch. Many of these things we can’t control.
However, there are things we can control, like the creation of competitive classifications, composite crews, the Target Fund, and market recovery initiatives through collective bargaining that have been successful in keeping ‘A’-rated Journeypersons employed. Things like funding the COBRA Fund that has allowed our unemployed members to maintain their medical coverage and continuing the Work Sharing Plan to share the limited work opportunity. All of this has helped all of our members and they are godsends.
We certainly have challenges. The Journeyperson’s rate will increase next month and that will help members struggling as well as the contributions to all of our funds. Full employment in Local 3 North and other locals that have work on the books and still need electricians are opportunities to go to work. Here in New York City, new work under PLA’s in the green economy is on the horizon with solar, transmission work, grid upgrades and new and modified substations to handle the power. Then there are offshore wind projects, electrical modifications and retrofits in existing electrical modifications in existing commercial buildings to comply with laws that require them to lower their carbon footprint, plus electrical vehicle charging stations. Much of this work comes under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, and it’s our future.
The large projects under PLA’s at our airports and in our transit system are key. The conversions of commercial office space into residential buildings and our hope for union-built affordable housing both look promising. We’re not going anywhere soon. Productivity and the Code of Excellence are what we are all about. We are the IBEW, the best trained electrical workers in the world. We are in a fight, but it is a fight that we will win if we all do our part. Keep up the good work.