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Organized Immigrants Become Electricians

Oct 10, 2007
The local chapters of various United States labor unions in the electrical field can help you become an electrician through their expansive and highly organized apprenticeship programs. These programs have been around for many decades and have trained many thousands to become an electrician. Lets look at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and see what they offer.

One innovative program in the Washington DC area is designed to reach out to members of the Hispanic community who want to become an electrician. Two advanced electrician apprenticeships, themselves bilingual Spanish speaking local community members are now mentors in the local chapters innovative pilot program that includes a course in English as a Second Language (ESL). This program is part of the help to local Spanish speaking residents who want to become an electrician.

Instructors and administrators at the George Meany Center of the DC-area National Labor College consulted with IBEW executives to initiate the program. Not only does the program help these residents in their efforts to become an electrician. It also opens up the door to another group of potential labor union members. While the program was actually the dream child of the IBEW national headquarters, DCs local 26, often the forerunner of many outreach programs, agreed to be the pilot area. These first bilingual become an electrician courses and apprenticeships began in 2004. Now theyre available in any of the IBEW local chapters.

The labor unions international president pointed out that the program is critical to the future of the union, calling it a creative response to growing the IBEW ranks and helping new residents in their efforts to become an electrician. He pointed out how the IBEW history was redolent with immigration training efforts in the past, bringing in immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Germany, Russia, Poland and many other countries.

Some executives acknowledged that some members and some chapters would find this program a hard sell, but that not helping these people become an electrician if they so desired would be sticking their heads in the sand. One trainer helping those who want to become an electrician pointed out that Hispanic workers have doubled their numbers in the ranks of the workforce in the last 25 years. Hispanic workers are now 15 percent of the U.S. work force. Helping them become an electrician not only helps the workers and their families. It could swell the ranks of IBEW and other labor unions by up to 15 percent. This is the kind of statistics that warms the hearts of those concerned about the demise of labor unions in the United States - and, in the meantime, theyre continual loss of influence and bargaining power.

What really brought home to Local 26 that they needed to implement this Hispanic program to help these workers become union electricians was the daily view of approximately one hundred Hispanic immigrants gathered a short distance up the street at a strip mall. Here they waited for non-union contractors to stop by and offer them construction jobs for non-union wages and benefits.
About the Author
James Cooper is a writer for http://www.electricianscareer.co.uk where you can learn to become an electrician
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