NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry
  • Reaction to the Grass is Greener Post

    Posted on Aug 20, 2008 by John M Grau

    My last post drew more comments and responses than I’ve had for awhile. Some people commented on whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic. Others commented on the future of energy-efficiency markets.

    A thoughtful response came from Columbus, Ohio, member Greg Stewart who wrote:

    The "Good Old Days" are in reality always right now. Through challenge comes opportunity and through opportunity comes success, if we are wise enough to recognize it and act upon it. The way it was will never be again, yet the way it will be is very much up to what we make it.

    Oregon member Nathan Philips suggests a method for going after PV work:

    As you know, I'm from Oregon, which is a license state and we're struggling with our IBEW partners to clarify the scope of PV installation work that requires an electrical license. As you point out, we don't want to let this industry get away from us, so NECA has been advocating for rules that allow unlicensed workers to assemble racks intended for PV collectors, which is the standard in the non-union sector. Our approach is that once the licensing requirements are clarified, we can get the bargaining agreements to mirror them.

    Austin, Texas, member Mike Kanetzky is concerned that we don’t over-train our apprentices by adding a solar component.

    John, I agree there are many opportunities for the electrical contracting industry. However I see Red Flags all over your article fearing that there will be a push to add a Wind/Photovoltaic class to our apprenticeship program which has already gone astray.

    The biggest opportunity for NECA-IBEW contractors would be to remove all classification ratios across the country. Have a 12-month plan to overhaul the NJATC creating curriculum that will provide immediate Production/Quality/Safety results in the field for electric contractors. There is a core skill set that every electrician needs and we are missing the boat with our current training.

    (The NJATC is embarked on a core curriculum project which will address some of Mike’s concerns).

    My favorite response is from my pessimistic friend that I mentioned at the beginning of the last post. He sent me the following comment:

    I do lament the passing of the old days. In my opinion, you'd have to be an idiot NOT to.

    I can read a financial statement. So can you.

    The U.S. is bankrupt. People who even call this into question are loony (at a minimum). Those who aren't loony are self-deceivers. Those who are not loony or self-deceiving are … totally dishonest.

    Fact is, we didn't used to be. One of the reasons the 1970s and early 1980s were not worse was our economic strength. If Paul Volcker came in again and administered the same high-interest-rate shock "to the system" that he did in 1979-87 … our economy would COLLAPSE.

    There's no disputing that. We've allowed our economy to become fragile — by being, in part, self-indulgent spoiled idiots.

    I’ll let that be the last word.

  • Summertime and the Livin' is .... Hectic

    Posted on Jul 22, 2008 by John M Grau

    Last week, the ELECTRI Council of NECA’s Foundation met in Chicago to fund a new round of research projects. The Council members selected six projects from some new, young university professors on subjects such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the electrical industry. The Council also approved a new multi-year project involving solar marketing and training led by veteran researcher David Riley of Penn State.

    Next week, Midwest Chapter Execs gather in Chicago to share experiences and learn better ways to manage their respective chapters. Later in the week, NECA is hosting an energy-efficiency summit in Los Angeles. An invited group of 30 member contractors and chapter executives will discuss solar/wind/green construction and provide guidance and ideas on how NECA members can best capitalize on work in these markets.

    During the first week of August, the National Training Institute (NTI) will convene in Knoxville, Tennessee. Nearly two thousand local training directors and those associated with NECA-IBEW training attend this week-long program. In conjunction with that event, NECA and the IBEW leadership will meet as the National Labor-Management Cooperation Committee (NLMCC). We will talk about how to most effectively move our industry forward through joint cooperative efforts.

    Of course, there are many more meetings taking place, and these are all events that I am directly involved in over the next couple weeks. This means I’ll be shuttling around on airplanes, as usual.

    Anyone traveling by air this summer knows that it hasn’t been fun. So far, I have avoided paying for checking my bag — I prefer carry-on. I haven’t avoided delayed flights and poor service. I can forgo the meals and peanuts, but I would like to get from point A to point B somewhat close to schedule — like the same day.

    On the plus side, I'm rewarded with lots of frequent flyer miles which I can then use to take more flights.

    Wait a minute. Something's wrong here.

About NECA Transmissions

NECA Transmissions is a collaborative effort from CEO John Grau and NECA staff to provide insight and feedback on key issues from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry.


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