A swearing-in ceremony…music to the ears of IBEW leadership far and wide.

But in Bakersfield, CA, scenes like this have been happening with happy regularity. And the reason is, while different sectors of the energy industry live through changing – and challenging – times, the local has been up to the task.

When the price of oil dropped, a lot of non-union workers were laid off. At the same time, new demands for solar power were swinging the door wide open for the addition of new jobs in alternative energy.

Enter IBEW Local 428 who organized the non-union oil field workers and saving their jobs while also creating a new classification to capture work in solar and send even more new members to work in that field. Much of the local economy of Bakersfield has been built around energy…and it has been a wild ride.

As the price to fill up our gas tanks goes up and down, so does the need for people to work in the oil fields.

On the other side of the energy coin, you have companies capturing the power of the sun, and they are in need of a workforce to build the huge solar plants that maximize its energy.

All of this can have a whiplash effect on the ability to supply the manpower – when and where it is needed – to do the job.

And Local 428 has been a master at moving the chess pieces on the employment board. Let’s start with oil.

The California resources corporation is a major independent oil company that recently signed a project labor agreement.

When the IBEW was brought in, to say the transformation from non-union to a union workforce was fast in the understatement of the year!

The process was put in place over a weekend!

When all was said and done, more than 80 workers went from non-union to union with Contra Costa Electric.

One issue is changing the lives of many of the newly organized workers is the training and education that is now available to them as a lifelong benefit of the IBEW.

IBEW training is not only opening the eyes of our newest members, the customer also notices it.
Because of its location in south-central California, Bakersfield is also attractive to large solar energy companies. There’s lots of work and IBEW Local 428 is doing what is necessary to grow its membership and become a key player in the renewable energy game.

As work continues at the Beacon Solar Plant, these are jobs that not only provide an “in” for the IBEW today, they are not going anywhere anytime soon.

A promising career. A fair wage. A comfortable lifestyle. All things that are part of the IBEW mission and all things that are now available to new Local 428 members.

The industry is investing in this proud California city about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles and as long as there’s work for skilled labor, IBEW Local 428 will do its part to make it happen.

 

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Lonnie Stephenson

IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson has been working with the IBEW Hour Power team since he was elected International President in 2015. President Stephenson creates short videos entitled “President’s Message” to bring important announcements and inspirational messages right to your computer screen.

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