By Brian Murphy
IBEW Local 104 Business Manager
As a Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 104, a major part of my job is training the next generation of electrical utility lineworkers. Whether building new transmission lines, undertaking daily maintenance of electric distribution lines or restoring power during outages, our members are ready to go anywhere at a moment’s notice and perform the highest quality work in the industry. We are not just linemen, we are first responders, and millions of Americans depend on us to keep the lights on and we take that responsibility very seriously.
IBEW deploys workers across the country – from Florida and Texas to Puerto Rico – to help local utilities restore power after hurricanes and other natural disasters. This level of readiness can only be maintained through rigorous training and education designed to keep our members up-to-date with the latest technology and safety procedures. But even continuing education pales in comparison to the importance of our apprenticeship program – the true backbone of our profession.
As such, I was dismayed by Nancy West’s InDepth article about Governor Sununu’s recent visit with our apprentices at Manchester Community College (MCC) on Wednesday. Instead of reporting on a leading-edge public-private partnership aimed at educating and training men and women for lifelong careers as linemen, West chose to use the event as an opportunity to float conspiracy theories. Her failure to report on the actual event, the growing career opportunities in the field and the professional collaboration that is taking place is a disservice to InDepth readers and those that fund her media company.
My hope from the event was that maybe a young person coming out of school or someone changing careers would learn about the linemen apprentice program and want to learn more. They might want to learn about the job, the good pay and benefits, and the growing demand around the country. Unfortunately, West’s narrow-minded focus on the Northern Pass prevented any of the real information from reaching readers and those that might have been positively impacted. But then maybe that is her goal.
At a time when lineworkers are in high demand, this level of interest from our governor, senate president and other state leaders should be applauded, not criticized. Like other first responders, Governor Sununu has an interest in ensuring that the next generation of electric linemen are being trained and prepared. But using a gubernatorial visit to celebrate these men and women as a means to suggest alternative motives and forward personal agendas around the Northern Pass Transmission project is dishonest journalism — at best.
IBEW Local 104