From Prison to Foreman at PTL Electric
Every weekday morning, when PTL Foreman Eric Cruz climbs into his truck before dawn to travel the 90 minutes or more to get to the SoFi Stadium jobsite, he counts his lucky stars. Sure he works hard, sometimes six days a week, 10 hours a day when the company needs to hit its deadlines, but it’s still better than the life he left behind.
As a kid with far too much energy, Cruz was often on the wrong side of the law in the 90s, running with the gangs. He landed in juvenile hall when he was just 14 years old, graduating up to prison by the time he was 19. That’s when he tattooed “Pure Evil” on his eyelids. “I was partying and hanging out with the wrong crowd,” he acknowledges.
In and out of prisons over the next six years, Cruz finally realized he had enough. It was during his two year stint at Tehachapi Correctional Institute, that he learned a trade and became a non-union electrician. “I was an Inside Wireman for many years, always bouncing from job to job.” Finally in 2019 he joined IBEW 11 and hasn’t looked back.
What does he tell his 5 children – ages 17 on down? Does he have any regrets? “I tell my kids I made some bad choices, but it’s up to them to choose the right path. I have no regrets. Sure I struggled, but it made me the person I am today.”
Cruz is happy to admit that loves spending time with his real family but he also relishes taking care of and mentoring his work family. “I’m proud that I take good care of my crew, and teach them what they need to know to do a good job. We’re all learning the new technology together”
“This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my career,” he says. “Joining the union was the best decision I’ve ever made. The benefits, the pay. The brotherhood, the morale. You can’t beat it.”