Unions are based on the concept that there’s strength in numbers, but there’s safety in numbers too — especially during challenging times. When the going gets tough, the tough get organized. Considering the current slowdown in Alberta’s economy, Scott Crichton, assistant business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 424, says unions still prove their value: “Whether you are a contractor or a worker, there has never been a better time to join the IBEW.”
“The benefits of being in a union during an economic downturn is that your pension and benefits are not tied to one employer,” he says. “The other benefit is training — the union’s training courses are provided at zero cost to the members or the government.”
These “top notch” training programs are a key component to IBEW 424’s success, Crichton says, and the courses aren’t offered at the province’s technical schools. As economies mature and technology evolves, electrical workers have to adapt to changing realities and produce the same quality work. He points out that change is nothing new for IBEW 424 — the union has a long history in the province, starting many generations ago and helping build Alberta into the province it is today.
“Long before the first oil sands projects, the IBEW 424 was founded in 1928 by 11 CN rail workers,” Crichton says. “Now, 88 years later, IBEW 424 has grown to 8,400 members from across Alberta in a variety of industries — from maintenance and construction to alternative energy.”
Continuing that legacy, the IBEW 424 positions itself to keep pace with Alberta’s rapidly developing future. One thing is clear — energy and fuel sources are diversifying.
“Solar and electrical vehicle charging station courses are important because we have learned from IBEW locals in the U.S. that it has created large amounts of employment for their members down there,” he says. “With the carbon levy coming into effect Jan. 1, we can be assured that those same opportunities will be coming to Alberta in the near future.”
Visit ibew424.net for more information.