Chicago's Unionized Electrical Industry Continues Outreach to Minority Communities During National Apprenticeship Week

CHICAGO, Nov. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Powering Chicago, the labor-management partnership between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 and the Electrical Contractors' Association of the City of Chicago (ECA), reaffirmed today its continued commitment to introducing minorities and those from underserved communities to the unionized electrical industry. The announcement comes during National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), a nationwide celebration that brings together business leaders, career seekers, labor, educational institutions, and other critical partners to demonstrate their support for apprenticeship.

Powering Chicago's continued outreach efforts have raised minority participation in the Chicago unionized electrical industry's apprenticeship program to 41.1%.

"Powering Chicago's commitment to better careers and better communities begins with an understanding that opportunities to join the union electrical industry must be available to everyone," said Elbert Walters III, director of Powering Chicago. "No matter your race or where you came from, we believe a successful career in our industry should be available to all."

To ensure inclusivity for all, Powering Chicago members have dedicated a tremendous amount of time and resources to outreach in underserved communities and in no way is that better exemplified than through Emma Williams. Emma found her career as an IBEW Local 134 electrical apprentice through the Chicago Women in Trades' Technical Opportunities program, which quickly led her to the unionized electrical industry's Trainee Program. Emma is now a third-year apprentice learning about the industry through hands-on classroom instruction and on-the-job training.

Learn more about how a simple Google search led Emma to a career in the union electrical industry.

"Emma's story is similar to so many of the men and women who join our electrical apprenticeship program," explained Gene Kent, Director of the IBEW/NECA Technical Institute. "While Emma got her start through the Chicago Women in Trades program, others may have been introduced to the industry in high school through our Chicago Builds program or at a younger age through our church-sponsored events and community outreach. What makes our industry unique is all the different personalities and backgrounds that come together in the classroom and on the jobsite."

To highlight Emma and all the other qualified apprentices during National Apprenticeship Week, Milwaukee Tool has donated tools and materials that can be used on the jobsite for years to come (photos from the November 11 presentation event). Milwaukee is a proud sponsor of the National Electrical Contractors' Association (NECA).

"We are thrilled to be a part of a program that helps the future generation begin their careers as safe and productive as possible, while promoting respect and valuing diversity and equality for all," said Steve Richman, group president of Milwaukee Tool. "With a shared vision and partnership with NECA and IBEW, we will remain relentlessly committed to support and invest in the electrical trades."

Powering Chicago will continue its commitment to minority outreach this week and throughout the year as it looks to grow upon its three key principles: Better Construction. Better Careers. Better Communities.

About Powering Chicago

Bringing together the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 electricians and the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA) of the City of Chicago, Powering Chicago is an electrical industry labor-management partnership (LMCC) that invests in consistently better construction, better careers and better communities within the metro Chicago region. Employing the latest technology, our members are elevating industry performance through their commitment to safety, level of experience and reliability, while also investing in the future of skilled labor through an innovative, five-year apprenticeship program. For additional information, visit

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SOURCE Powering Chicago