For the past year, work in the Orlando Florida area has been booming, and the Central Fl. Chapter of NECA and Local 606 decided to secure as much of that work as possible. To do this, both parties decided that a job Blitz and Industry Night would be necessary to get the electricians needed to man the jobs.
The idea was first discussed 4 months before the event and from that point NECA and Local 606 worked hand in glove in all phases of the campaign. NECA was invited to participate in every planning meeting and they eagerly accepted adding their ideas that eventually were incorporated into the plan. The level of cooperation between NECA and the Local was unprecedented. In fact, NECA Central Fl. Chapter Manager Bob Coppersmith said that in his “35 years in NECA, I have never seen the level of cooperation that went into the planning and implementation that went into this Blitz and Industry Night”. He was particularly impressed with how willing the local was in soliciting ideas from the contractors in the planning phase, and using those ideas in the overall plan.
Once a general plan and budget were agreed upon, the organizing department led by Larry Kidd, brought in Fl. State Organizing Coordinator Jon Dehmel for his expertise. Jon was the lead go between with the local and the International Organizing department. Jon was instrumental in making sure that everyone, as he put it “hits their mark and does what they are supposed to do”, and oversaw the social media portion of the campaign with Facebook and the Electric-jobs.info website. Jon also helped map the jurisdiction for non-union jobsites, came up with routes for the Blitz and had a lot of input in the marketing and advertising for the Industry Night. It is obvious that any local planning an event such as this, that they work closely with their State Organizing Coordinator for the best outcome.
For the actual Blitz, Local 606 was fortunate to be able to draw on the experienced organizers from the International and from surrounding locals. Business managers from locals 756, 915 and 728 all provided organizers for the Blitz along with 3 organizers from the International. There was over 100 years of experience between the 10 organizers who participated in the Blitz and it showed in their ability to accomplish all their assignments and find targets of opportunity on their own. Almost 100 non-union jobsites were visited and untold numbers of face to face contacts were made.
A crucial aspect of the marketing for the Industry Night was the fact that radio ads were run on 5 different Orlando radio stations for 2 weeks prior to the event. Initially, no media outreach was planned due to the high cost of the Orlando market. 5th District International Vice-President Joe Davis stepped in at the last minute and secured funding for the radio ads. He rightly thought that any event planned without them, would not be as successful. During the jobsite visits, the organizers reported that almost everyone they contacted had previously heard the on air ads. It was obvious that the interest generated by the radio ads was well worth the investment.
As the Industry Night rapidly approached, Local 606 President Clay McNeely enlisted the help of the local RENEW Committee to have a sufficient number of volunteers on hand the night of the event. Under Brother McNeely’s direction there were 24 RENEW volunteers there directing traffic, greeting attendees, gathering and entering applicant data into computers and in translating for non-English speaking attendees. The RENEW committee also had a booth where they spoke to the non-union electricians on how the IBEW was an excellent career choice. Clay negotiated an incredible deal with them to stage a professional trade show look to the Industry Night. Each of the 10 contractors who participated, had a booth with world class signs and banners. Everyone who attended the event was thoroughly impressed the job that GES did.
The local JATC Director Jim Sullivan set up a processing station for applicants at the Industry Night to expedite the 207 electricians who showed up. Jim advised that any local who put on an event such as this “include the JATC Director in the planning” along with contractors and the local. When “all 3 are sitting at the table working together is the number 1 thing in making this a premier event”.
The Industry Night was a huge success due in no small part to the fact that the participating contractors had an immediate need for manpower and hired on the spot. Mark Mazur the owner and President of MJM Electric was “impressed with the preliminary planning, the radio ads, and the level of applicants”. He also said that he had “every intention of hiring some of the applicants I spoke with tonight”. Kurt Durette the Operations Manager of Electric Solutions Unlimited also thought the level of experience from the applicants was very good, and foresees hiring several. Electric Solutions has broken in to the market of gas stations and convenience stores, and Kurt said “I am a firm believer in the CE/CW program and could in no way compete in that market without it”. Kurt also described the level of cooperation between NECA and the local as “a true partnership”.
Doug Spence who is the Manager for Electric Company of South Florida, had never participated in an Industry Night before, and thought it was “amazing with a good turnout and lots of good prospects”. He said that there “was a wide array of expertise” in the skill level of the applicants he spoke to, and would “absolutely consider hiring some of them”. Doug’s company also does work in a market that is not what most signatory contractors do, such as restaurants, retail commercial buildouts, and grocery stores. Doug said that “there was no way in the word that he could compete with the non-union in that market without the CE/CW program” and has picked up 3 different jobs recently because of it. Doug commended Local 606 in working with the CEs and CWs in “giving them training and elevating them in their skill level”.
Vice President Joe Davis echoed those thoughts when he said “contractors are getting into markets they have never been in before, and they couldn’t get into those markets without the CE/CW classifications”. He also recommended that “any local with the available work should have an Industry Night and promote the CE/CW program more”. Local 606 Business Manager Bob Carr summed it up best when he spoke about organizing and utilizing the CE/CW program “this is what Henry Miller was all about, organizing everyone in the electrical industry”.
Everyone agreed that the Local 606 Blitz and Industry Night exceeded expectations. Contractors are now comfortable bidding work in new markets knowing that the local can supply the manpower. The local is growing its membership by organizing unrepresented electricians, and those workers now have the opportunity to expand their skill level and be part of an organization that believes in improving the lives of its members along with the lives of their families. It was a win-win situation for everyone, especially for the IBEW.