IBEW Local 105 – Embracing the Future, Remembering the Past

Originally chartered in January 1900, then rechartered on May 25 1928, IBEW Local 105 is 118 years old this year. In spite of ongoing transitions in the Hamilton economy, Local 105 is still the go-to provider for the best quality electrical services in the area.

IBEW Local 105 118th Birthday Cake
Celebrating the past, present, and future of Local 105 are (left) Pat Neill, retired member with 58 years of service, (center) Brad Smith, IBEW Local 105 President, and (right) Rich DiPietro, Membership Development and Chair of the Local 105 Next Gen Committee.

“Hamilton was originally built on steel, and it’s great to see the industry coming back,” says Business Manager Lorne Newick. “Both Dofasco and Stelco are doing well and are planning technological upgrades in their respective operations. This is great news for Hamilton and Local 105. We’re looking forward to being part of this growth in our industrial sector.”

Local 105 has been busy in the last few years, working on hospitals, schools, water treatment facilities, and even a new cocoa butter plant for chocolatier Ferrero Rocher. It will be the only cocoa butter plant in Canada, and one of only two supplying the entire North American market.

“We’ve also been wiring a lot of pot farms,” laughs Newick, “they seem to be springing up everywhere in our area lately!”

This is welcome news for a town that was originally built on manufacturing, and has seen some hard times when many companies left the area for the southern US or Mexico.

But with changing times comes new opportunities, and Newick and his team have been keen to take advantage of them. “High and low rise residential construction have been a focus of ours in recent years. With the boom in building condos as well as single homes in our area we’ve been able to shift into these markets and provide employment opportunities for our members.”

“I’m looking forward to continuing to grow our membership, and to working with our contractor partners on increasing our market share,” says Newick.

When asked what he’s proudest of for his local, Newick has a very difficult time answering.

“There’s so much. Everyone’s doing a phenomenal job here, providing good service to our brothers and sisters. But if I have to single one thing out, I think I have to mention the huge step forward with our training centre in the past few years. Our Educational Director, Chris Swick, has completed the setup of our Network Cabling Specialist (NCS) program, now the only one in Ontario.”

Adapting to New Technology

Building Automation Systems (BAS) has been an up-and-coming field for the past decade or so.

“BAS is a networking technology that allows building managers to manage lights, heating, cooling, and security systems remotely through programmable logic controllers that connect to a data centre,” explains Newick. “You can find efficiencies in systems and save a lot of energy.”

“Right now there is a 100 megawatt solar farm in Cayuga, Ontario that is monitored and managed in California. Our members install systems like those, with all the hardware and wiring. It’s huge,” says Newick. “And it requires well-trained communications workers with advanced network cabling skills to do these installations.”

As of 2017, IBEW Local 105 is the only certified Training Delivery Agent for the Basic and Advanced Network Cabling Specialist programs in Ontario. “We’re very proud of Chris Swick for leading this,” Newick says.

According to the regulations, the Local 105 must also provide the training to non-union workers as well. Newick, unfazed, says, “one of our goals is to extend the benefits of the union to as many workers as possible. This is a great chance to show them why we’re the better way to go.”

Since the communications field is so attractive right now, Newick is also hoping he can use the training to attract more military veterans through the Helmets to Hardhats program.

EV Charging Stations

Electric vehicle (EV) charging is gaining popularity all the time. “For any new homes being built, contractors have to provide EV charging conduit and cable to the garage,” says Newick.

“We did the electrical work for the new Tesla Supercharger station at the Limeridge Mall back in January and February,” says Newick. The station has enough room for 20 cars to charge at once.

“We’re not only powering and wiring new EV charging systems and stations, we’re providing training for this as well. We have working models in our training centre.”

Now or Never: the Ontario Election 2018

The upcoming provincial election is very top of mind for Newick.

“This is one of the most important elections we’ve faced in a number of years. Our biggest hope is that the people of Ontario make the right choice in terms of preserving the middle class,” he says.

Newick has been active in volunteer efforts, and encourages all IBEW members across Ontario to be as generous with their time as they can.

“We have a very organized Political Action Committee, and of course I’ve been out canvassing with some of our members,” says Newick. “In spite of the new rules, it’s still all about getting boots on the ground: staffing phone banks, hammering in campaign signs, and talking to our friends and neighbours.”

118 Years of Winning Battles – and Counting

IBEW Local 105 118th Birthday CakeNewick is always looking ahead, but he doesn’t forget to remember where he’s come from. He is very proud of the long history Local 105 has as Canada’s oldest local.

“There are so many things we take for granted, like being able to eat on coffee breaks. But that’s something we had to fight for back in the early 1960s – electricians were fired for eating on breaks in 1962. When I was on the tools, I couldn’t eat first thing in the morning, so by the time we took our morning break I was really ready for a quick snack. Even getting something simple like that was a major effort for our brothers back in the day.” You can read more about the history of Local 105 here.

There are still plenty of battles to be fought, especially when it comes to safety. “Whenever we register a new shop, we see it over and over again. Unregistered apprentices, apprentice-to-journeyperson ratios out of whack – we have yet to see a shop that’s compliant with the provincial standards. We see it all first hand.”

Newick is determined to keep fighting. He sums up with, “We fight the war battle by battle and appreciate the small victories.”