Posted on Aug 20, 2008
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.