Growth, A New Training Center, and Day School,  1990 - 2004

 The 90’s began with 191 inside apprentices and 38 residential apprentices.  There were an additional 33 people waiting for initial dispatch in both programs.  The JATC and Trust committee consisted of Ed Barnes, Business Manager of Local 48, Tim Gauthier, NECA Chapter Manager, Bob Palandech, Gary Price, Ken Fry, Gene Heil, Grant Zadow, and Bill Shird.  Several events that would help the program occurred in 1990:  instructors were sent to the first year of the NJATC’s National Training Institute in Knoxville, Dwight Page was hired as Assistant Training Director, the Industry Drug Testing Program was initiated, and the apprenticeship program instituted a tutoring program. In April of 1990 Jerry Bruce replaced Ken Fry on the committee; Mel Conner replaced Jerry later in the year.  Apprentice rotation remained a contentious issue.

During the early 90’s we continued to see positive change in the program.  The apprenticeship committee, instructors and apprentice class representatives participated in a planning retreat in July of 1991 to develop a blueprint for the future.  In 1991 Bruce Zimmerman was hired as Assistant Director.   The Limited Energy Apprenticeship Program became one of the Training Center‘s programs following the merger of IBEW Local 49 into Local 48.  Additional hands-on   training was scheduled for apprentice classes.

The residential apprenticeship program was very proactive in the 90’s; the residential apprenticeship program worked with the Gresham School District  wiring a house each year built by the Gresham High students.

The program continued to participate in the Northwest States Electrical Contest.  In 1992, now Assistant Training Director, Rod Belisle won First Place in the contest in Seattle. Jerry Bruce returned to the committee replacing Mel Conner. Later in the year Al Feller replaced Grant Zadow on the committee.

With the announcement of Training Director Dan Faddis’ retirement, Ken Fry returned to the Training Center and became Director effective January 1, 1993.  In January of 1993 Bob Agee replaced Bill Shird on the committee.  In ’93 the program took a number of steps to increase the retention of women in the program.  A meeting with the JATC and all female apprentices and journeymen was held at the Training Center, led by Seattle’s Training Director Nancy Mason.

We continued to see large numbers of people applying to the program.  In 1994 the inside program had 714 applicants which included 9.8% female and 17.2% minority.  The committee  quit using the GATB aptitude test that year.  The committee approved a sexual harassment policy and scheduled another women’s panel discussion for the following spring.

With the increased emphasis on safety and the financial implications of unsafe job sites, the Industry made the decision that a joint labor-management safety director should be hired to work out of the Training Center.  In late 1994, the Trustees hired Mike Murphy as Safety Director.

In 1995, Business Manager Ed Barnes retired and was replace by Business Representative Greg Teeple, Greg was appointed to the committee to replace Ed and Luigi Serio replaced Al Feller.   With a booming economy, the committee indentured 60 maintenance electricians with advanced standing.  The training center was running out of classroom space and parking.  Additional classroom space was found at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus.  The Trust also rented classroom space and parking at Whitaker Middle School across the street from the Training Center.  The residential upgrade program (2+2+2) was causing an exodus of residential journeymen who were entering the inside apprenticeship program and was causing increased concern among the residential contractors.

In 1996, Business Manager Greg Teeple was appointed to an International Representative position within the IBEW and was replaced by Business Representative Jerry Bruce.  Steve Shiprack was appointed to both committees and Bobbie Durdin to the JATC  (Bob Palandech stayed on the Trust Committee).  Additionally, Dwight Page was hired as Assistant Training Director.  In 1997, Mark Zadow was appointed to the committee replacing Luigi Serio.  The work continued at brisk pace creating additional growth in the apprenticeship program.

In 1997, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation causing JATC’s to no longer be a part of a state agency.  While this had very little affect on the Metro program, it caused many other programs to be more accountable.  By 1998 the program had 10.7% minority participation and 11.0% female participation.

With the tremendous growth in the program, the committee made the bold move of contracting to have a new training center built on NE Airport Way adjacent to IBEW Local 48.  After a short construction period and a total investment of approximately $6,000,000.00 the program moved into the new NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center in March of 1998.  As a result of the growth, the Training Center opened with no excess capacity.  A decision was made in late 1998 to move inside apprentice classes to day school.  In 1998, Dick Frahler was appointed to the committee to replace Bob Agee and Elias Campbell was hired as Apprenticeship Coordinator.

In 1999 the program had grown to over 650 apprentices, a basic skills class (boot camp) had been initiated and day school was underway under the guidance of Lead Instructor Rod Belisle.  Rod was later given the additional responsibility of Assistant Training Director   All apprenticeship committees were combined under one JATC.  Work continued at a brisk pace until mid 2001 causing a decline in the number of apprentices entering the program.

Business Manager Jerry Bruce retired in June of 2000 and was replaced by Business Representative Keith Edwards.

In early 2002, Dick Frahler was replaced by Karl Jensen of Westside Electric and Jason Landon of McCoy Electric  was appointed as an alternate.

In 2003, Business Manager Keith Edwards was appointed to an International Representative’s position and was replaced by Business Representative Grant Zadow.

As the NECA-IBEW Electrical Apprenticeship Program enters its 76th year we find the program continuing to adjust to changing technology and business environment.  The Training Center is often referred to as the “Research and Development Department”  of the NECA-IBEW Electrical Industry and continues to foster innovative ideas to help the industry.   As we look back with pride on the past 75 years, we also look forward to the challenges of the next 75 years.

Ken Fry
NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center