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IBEW Local 396
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
 
 
February 07, 2023
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IBEW 396 Receives The Edwin D. Hill Award

Two IBEW locals and their employer have won the inaugural Edwin D. Hill Award for their expansive efforts to protect good jobs and Nevada power customers, a campaign that led to the landslide defeat of a deceptive state ballot measure last November.

Las Vegas Local 396 and Vacaville, Calif, Local 1245, along with NV Energy, worked together to fight Question 3, a sweeping attempt at energy deregulation that threatened to cut jobs, raise costs and imperil Nevada’s power grid.

Tom Dalzell, Local 1245 business manager, speaks prior to the awards ceremony on a panel that also includes Local 396 President Sharon Skinner, at right.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our IBEW members and our friends at NV Energy for all the work they did to protect Nevada’s energy future,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “They proved in practice that when we work with our industry partners on behalf of our customers, we can make positive change happen.”

Named for the visionary IBEW president emeritus who died last December, the Hill Award recognizes union and industry leaders who advance issues at the state and local levels. It was presented March 11 in Washington, D.C., by the National Labor Management Public Affairs Committee (LAMPAC).

Under Hill’s leadership, the IBEW and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) launched LAMPAC in 2007 to help the union and electric companies jointly address the nation’s energy challenges.

EEI called Hill “a transformative trade unionist” who honored the IBEW’s history and traditions “while making key changes to modernize and preserve the IBEW’s influence as one of North America’s most powerful voices for working people.”

The first-ever Hill Award winners built a coalition of environmental groups, small and large businesses, local officials and other parties “dedicated to keeping energy prices low while increasing the amount of clean energy in Nevada,” EEI said.

NV Energy employs Local 396 members in southern Nevada and Local 1245 members in the north.

Recognizing the value of the IBEW’s experience in grassroots organizing and pro-worker political campaigns, the company asked the union “to run the ground game” on Question 3, said Local 396 Business Manager Jesse Newman.

Key to the locals’ strategy was an October door-knocking blitz in the Las Vegas area. On top of Locals 396 and 1245, the weeklong canvass drew members from 10 other IBEW locals in California and Nevada, some of them traveling hundreds of miles.

“This is truly unprecedented solidarity among the different IBEW locals, as well as remarkable labor-management cooperation, the likes of which are rarely seen in the United States.” Local 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell told them, kicking off the event.

“You can’t put a price tag on what we have in this room. Your honesty, and your truth, and your enthusiasm, and your passion, and your devotion and commitment … that’s what will win it.”

Newman believes that personal contact made all the difference, putting a human face on the confusing issue of energy deregulation, made worse by the onslaught of advertising across all media platforms.

“There was sensory overload,” he said. But by spending a few minutes at a doorstep, explaining what was at stake, “we were able to turn potential ‘yes’ voters into ‘no’ voters.”

The ability to work with NV Energy was essential, Newman said, noting that the partnership didn’t originate with the campaign.

“If we didn’t have the relationship we have through the Code of Excellence, I don’t think Question 3 would have been defeated,” he said.

EEI President Tom Kuhn said the winners “achieved an outcome that ultimately benefits electricity customers in Nevada. They were very successful, and they are all very deserving of this distinguished award.” 

The March 11 ceremony also honored the winners of LAMPAC’s 2019 John D. Dingell Award. Dingell, who died in February, served in Congress for 60 years, half of them as chair or ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

U.S. House Reps. Doug LaMalfa of California and Kurt Schrader of Oregon received the award for their bipartisan leadership passing the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, which improves the safety and reliability of the energy grid on federal lands.

“When it comes to maintaining our energy security, partisanship should never come in the way,” Stephenson said. “Representatives LaMalfa and Schrader have shown – just like Congressman Dingell did throughout his career – that lawmakers can cross the aisle and work together to come u
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IBEW 396 Receives The Edwin D. Hill Award
IBEW LOCAL UNION 396, IBEW LOCAL UNION 1245, AND NV ENERGY RECEIVE THE INAUGURAL EDWIN D. HILL AWARD

Washington, D.C. (March 11, 2019) – During a reception tonight, the inaugural Edwin D. Hill Award will be presented to International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 396, IBEW Local Union 1245, and NV Energy. The distinguished award recognizes advancement of state and local initiatives on behalf of the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) member electric companies and IBEW members.

IBEW Local Union 396, IBEW Local Union 1245, and NV Energy worked together to form a diverse coalition to educate customers in Nevada about their energy choices and NV Energy’s plan for providing customers with more clean energy. The coalition included environmental organizations, small and large business owners, local officials, and other organizations dedicated to keeping energy prices low while increasing the amount of clean energy in Nevada. Customers in Nevada overwhelmingly agreed with the coalition when they voted on Election Day.

“EEI’s member companies are committed to putting customers first, to maintaining reliability, and to keeping electricity prices low for all customers,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “IBEW Local Union 396, IBEW Local Union 1245, and NV Energy worked together to build a broad coalition to achieve an outcome that ultimately benefits electricity customers in Nevada. They were very successful, and they are all very deserving of this distinguished award.” 

“I couldn’t be prouder of the members of IBEW Locals 396 and 1245 and our friends at NV Energy for all the work they did to protect Nevada’s energy future,” said IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson. “They proved in practice that when we work with our industry partners on behalf of our customers, we can make positive change happen.”

EEI and the IBEW came together 12 years ago to create the National Labor Management Public Affairs Committee (National LAMPAC). National LAMPAC fosters collaboration and partnership among electric company executives and IBEW leaders to address the nation’s energy challenges. Through National LAMPAC, labor and management join together to achieve the common goals of running a well-managed, efficient business with a highly skilled workforce.

Named for IBEW International President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill, the award is presented to leaders who advance issues at the state and local levels. Hill, a transformative trade unionist who modernized and shepherded the IBEW through one of the deepest recessions in history, passed away in December 2018. During his tenure, the IBEW held fast to its history and traditions while making key changes to modernize and preserve the IBEW’s influence as one of North America’s most powerful voices for working people. It was also under Hill’s leadership that National LAMPAC was created.

Commitment to Excellence
 

Jesse Newman believes in the Code of Excellence and that it’s a win-win situation for both IBEW members and employers.


But the Las Vegas Local 396 business manager happily admits he didn’t have to do any convincing when it came to NV Energy and Paul Caudill, its president and chief operating officer.

“He said many times, ‘I value this relationship,’ “Newman said. “We have to work together.”

Local 396 and NV Energy, which provides electrical power to most of Nevada, adopted a Commitment to Excellence proclamation earlier this year to “project a positive attitude about who we are and the work we perform, on or off the job, while maintaining a relationship of respect and accountability.”

“If someone from the outside looked at this, they would say, ‘Holy cow, that’s some dedication,’ “ said Local 396 President Shannon Skinner, a lead journeyman lineman for NV Energy.

The company also agreed to use IBEW members for all future contracted work, Ninth District Vice President John O’Rourke said. That likely means more work for Local 357, a construction local in Las Vegas.

“This is huge,” O’Rourke said. “They see the value of the IBEW’s professionalism, our expertise and the quality of our training. They know we’re going to get the work done on time and on budget.”

The proclamation sets standards for Local 396 members working at NV Energy and for company managers in the areas of customer service, commitment and excellence on the job, along with environmental, regulatory and financial matters. Workers are now wearing hard hats with stickers commemorating the partnership. Stickers also are affixed to NV Energy service trucks.

“NV Energy sees it as part of their business model,” Newman said. “Why fight with the union when we can work with them on the challenges we face?”

Added Skinner: “This company recognizes what the IBEW is about. They like our core values, they like our standards and they like our work ethic.”

Caudill said that “we all want to create a work environment that we can be proud of and allows all of my colleagues to feel good about working for the power company.”

“Local 396 leadership, including Jesse Newman and Shannon Skinner, should get most of the credit for creating this opportunity to continue this collaboration,” he added. “The Commitment to Excellence will result in continued positive efforts in the community and being able to best serve our customers. This is not the end --- but just another step along the way. We can only get better together.”

The Code of Excellence was rolled out on a national level in the construction branch in 2007 and it’s received positive reviews from members and signatory contractors ever since.

It has spread to other sectors in recent years. The agreement between Local 396 and NV Energy covers about 610 utility sector workers. It will be called the Commitment of Excellence as requested by NV Energy officials, who believe it better signifies the depth of the relationship.

“This is wonderful news not just for our members in Nevada, but throughout the country,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “The Code of Excellence is a reminder the IBEW has the best workforce anywhere and we back that up. To see an industry leader like NV Energy wholeheartedly embrace it is extremely gratifying and we hope convinces other utility companies to do the same.”  

NV Energy is known to most customers around Las Vegas as Nevada Power, the name of its subsidiary in the southern part of the state. The company was purchased in 2013 by Berkshire Hathaway, the multinational conglomerate made famous by Chairman Warren Buffett.

Local 396 had a difficult time developing a relationship with company management before that, said Ninth District International Representative Charlie Randall, Newman’s predecessor as business manager.

“It’s funny,” Newman said. “When Berkshire took over, we were pretty nervous. Obviously with Paul, it’s been a positive thing for us.”

Caudill was hired in late 2013. He took an interest in the Code of Excellence after hearing about an agreement the IBEW reached with Florida Power & Light to institute the code there, Newman said. Caudill also has visited Alabama Power, where the IBEW has had a particularly strong relationship with management for the last several years.

“He told us, ‘I want to be the gold standard,’“ Randall said.

Skinner has worked for the company for 22 years and has been part of the Local 396 contract negotiating team several times. She’s noticed a change for the better during the last two years.

“I think it’s mutual respect,” she said. “We work together and we have a common goal, to serve our customers here in Nevada in a productive manner. We’re professionals, they’re professionals. When we work together, it just doesn’t get any better.”

Last December, Randall and Tracy Prezeau, an international representative from the Education Department based in the Ninth District, led training sessions for both IBEW members and NV Energy management.

Prezeau said an executive from NV Energy approached asked during the training about steward training conducted by the IBEW.  She inquired about instituting some of those techniques into NV Energy’s training for its managers.

“In my seven years of doing this, I’ve never heard an employer suggest that’s something they would even consider,” she said. “I was amazed and I told them that.”

Newman said the agreement makes it easier for both sides to work together on important legislative issues, particularly ways to deal with the solar industry and the role public utilities might play in it.

“The most important work we’re doing together removes barriers to more effective communication and teamwork, which is helping us in a time of unprecedented change in the energy markets, including competition for our services,” Caudill said.

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