Instead of taking Saturday morning to relax at home, more than two dozen electricians from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 110 were hard at work. But like they do a lot of Saturdays, they weren’t earning overtime.
As part of a Rice County Habitat for Humanity home build, the union members – ranging in age and skill of a new apprentice to a well-seasoned retiree – donated their time and skills to bring electrical wiring to a future neighbor.
And this isn’t the first time. By far. IBEW 110 is a frequent partner with Habitat for Humanity, and the union has volunteered to wire countless homes in the area. In fact, in Rice County alone, they plan to wire eight new houses next year.
For many of the volunteers, like Faribault resident Matt Walker, there’s nothing that compares to being able to lend a skill to a neighbor in need.
Walker is a fourth-year apprentice with IBEW 110, meaning he’s still in training and just one year away from becoming a licensed electrician. A graduate of St. Olaf College, Matt actually spent time working as a teacher and an airline pilot, before making his way to what’s clearly his calling in the trades. As a tradesman and a union member, he likes playing a part in the institutions that have built America. More than anything he appreciates how unions embrace community and hard work, and he thinks it’s most evident through events like this build.
Though Matt’s path to the trades was a winding one, Habitat for Humanity and IBEW Local 110 sure are glad he made the transition. In fact, despite 30 million jobs that pay $55,000 or higher and don’t require a bachelor’s degree, the trades are facing a major labor shortage. After years of pushing students toward bachelor’s degrees, there’s a high demand for these technical skills not enough qualified candidates for the roles.
Learn more about union job training apprenticeship programs here, and read the story from Northfield News here. And if you think union charitable acts and career development like this are vital to Minnesota’s economy and community, leave your support here.