Former President Jason Kish won a strong majority in the recent election, and pledged to continue working to build a strong local. He was sworn in, along with the other incoming executives, on July 16th, 2020.
“I hope I can do the good job I was elected to do,” said Kish. “I am pretty humbled and honoured to represent our Local. I’ve been part of the office team for 8 years, and it was really heartwarming to see all the support from the membership.”
Local 115’s leadership team now also includes President Robert Kelly, Vice-President Robert Bruce, Treasurer Sean Wylie, and Recording Secretary Bill Dodge. The chairs of the regional units will be elected once it’s safe to hold meetings; until then the current chairs will continue to serve.
Kish identified two of Local 115’s top priorities for the next few years. “Our main priority is to claim market share in the residential sector, and we have already negotiated key packages in both high-rise and low-rise buildings. We’re showing developers that IBEW electricians can do it all, both large projects and small.”
Local 115 has been busy with several industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) projects in the last few years, having completed wiring for the new Napanee Generating Station and the Fahey Milk Plant in Kingston. Kish said that there is more ICI work in the pipeline, including some work for a Proctor & Gamble site, a fleet maintenance station for the City of Kingston, the Pittsburgh Township Community Centre, and some fire alarms upgrades work to do for Queen’s University. Work for Hexo, a medical marijuana producer who is starting a new line of beverages, is on the docket as well.
As a secondary priority, Kish also wants to ensure that the Local continues to be very active in the community. “The membership needs to show the community that we give back. If we expect them to support us, we must support them.”
Safety First – Including COVID-19 Safety
While safety is always a concern for IBEW Local 115 as union electricians, safety has taken on a new dimension since the coronavirus crisis took hold. The need to maintain
safe physical distances has made life on worksites more difficult for everyone, workers and contractors alike.
“Maintaining social distancing is hard,” said Kish. “And the need for distancing has meant some members spend more time waiting on worksites. But the most important thing is for every member to show leadership and professionalism, and continue to work with our contractors as much as possible. We all have to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the Ministry and work as a team, even if it costs us money and time. Health and safety is the number one priority for us.”
Kish agreed with IBEW Local 804 Business Manager Brian Jacobs’ assessment that the pandemic has resulted in better sanitation standards on worksites. “We’ve seen better sanitation standards for sure. But we still need running water and flush toilets on all sites: we are human beings, and we all deserve basic sanitation.”
Fresh drinking water has also been an issue on worksites during the heat of summer. “In the past, there have been lots of cases where guys go home severely dehydrated because of lack of drinking water. The CCO has done a great job of putting this out,” said Kish.
“Hopefully out there safety and working standards improve and continue after the COVID crisis—not just for our occupation, but for all occupations.”
Continuing a Family Tradition of IBEW Membership
Kish was a Local 115 member from the start of his career, and began his apprenticeship in 1994. He credits his father, also an electrician with Local 115, as his inspiration.
“The IBEW has always been something that I’ve always looked up to. I had a great father and he also had friends who were IBEW electricians, so I got to see this life from a very young age. Being an electrician was all I aspired to be.”
Once he joined, older members pushed Kish to become active with his Local and attend meetings; advice he took to heart. He became Chairman for his regional unit in 2008, and after won positions as Vice President, then President.
He has played as a forward for a couple of Local 115’s Hockey teams in the OPC Hockey League. Now in the over-40 division, he cites a strong team record, saying, “I’ve always enjoyed competing against the other locals and having fun and socializing with other members!”
Local 115 has had a strong focus on giving back in recent years, under the leadership of former Business Manager Bill Pearse. This tradition is something Kish wants to see continue.
“In the past, we’ve helped a lot of charities, including CHEO, the Cancer Society, and we’ve done a number of Habitat for Humanity builds: three in the Cornwall area and one in Napanee. Our NextGen group has also helped out with efforts for autism and women’s shelters in the past,” said Kish proudly.
“But with COVID it’s hard for them to meet and hold events. Everything’s on hold for now, but we plan to get more active if it becomes safe around Christmas.”
Local 115 has also made many donations to the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation. The recent stream-a-thon to fundraise money for the Foundation raised $35,000, thanks in part to a pledge from Local 115 to match all community donations dollar for dollar.
Kish commented, “It would have been nice to raise the full $50,000, but the fundraiser happened during a tough time, with businesses struggling and people out of work. Usually, local restaurants and bars donate a lot to great causes like this. But it was our pleasure to do what we could to help out.”
Kish mentioned that he is grateful to many people for supporting him.
“I’d like to thank our former Business Manager, Bill Pearse, and former President Ed Long, who always pushed me to get into this role. My wife and kids have also sacrificed a lot so that I could put in the hours for my Local. Our office staff, and many of our members, have also supported me in this – I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Summing up, Kish said, “We’re going through tough times but we’ll get through this together as a membership. But I hope to see things turning around very soon.”