Brotherhood – Taking Care of Each Other

Sisters and brothers,

I want to take this time to bring up a very important subject: the responsibility of training apprentices and CWs. Recently an incident was brought to my attention regarding a new, first year apprentice. He had only been in the union for a few weeks. He was attempting to help his JW with a wire pull. The JW was yelling at him for either pulling the wire too slowly or feeding inconsistently. After being yelled at much of the day by his JW, this new apprentice decided to quit the union, saying even his own father never yelled at him like that. Now I understand the push our contractors put on us every day, but if we are not teaching the very basics to these new members, we are setting ourselves, and them, up for failure in the future. This situation has been occurring more frequently and I feel the need to address this issue. We do not need these new members leaving the trade, or going back to the nonunion employers with a horror story saying ”don’t join the union, they treat you terrible.”

How you treat these new members is how they will learn to treat others. How you train them affects their future and yours. Don’t allow the knowledge to get lost in the attitude. The future of our IBEW depends on the training you give them so they can pass it on when they are JW’s. You should be training these new members as your replacement. Safety is taught. Skills are learned. Knowledge is forever. The responsibility is yours.

I am sure you all know what needs to be done, but I will give a few points to ponder. Much of this is on “Teaching the Jobs Skills” card you can obtain at dispatch or from the agents.

First you must take the time to prepare the new apprentice or CW for the task ahead. Ask them if they understand. Point out the hazards. Take time to make sure they understand. Once the task is started, be sure to give them tips. What might occur, snag in fish tape, wires get tangled ETC. After you have started the task, review their procedure and make sure they are doing what you directed. Make sure they understand each step.

Always encourage and motivate. A positive attitude goes a long way. Acknowledge their efforts. Always highlight the safety hazards and explain what might happen. A lot of time the new members work slower because he or she is afraid to do something wrong. Explain the correct use of tools. Teach them there are no shortcuts for safety. Explain that while waiting for next step is a good time to clean up debris or slipping hazards.

Remember all this time teaching and explaining is part of the Brotherhood. I consider Brotherhood to be a verb, it takes action. A good brother once told me “there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. And never a right time to do the wrong thing.” Teach and instill that Brotherhood means we take care of each other. Teaching and explaining shows you care. Taking the time to share your knowledge is invaluable. The future of our IBEW is in your hands. Be sure to train those around you, as they will be the ones teaching future brothers and sisters. Thanks for taking the time to read and share this with others.

I am always available to share advice or answer questions. Be sure to report any unsafe working condition to me immediately. Do not wait for someone to get hurt before you call. God bless you, yours and our IBEW.

Sincerely and fraternally,

Yours in Brotherhood,

Bro. Ivan De Herrera, Jr.
Asst. Business Manager
IBEW Local 11


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