My entire life my mother has been a union electrician—a fact of life I never thought to question. It was where she spent her days while I was growing up, and it gave her the means to support our family. Although I understood and in my own way appreciated this fact, it never once occurred to me when considering potential career paths.
Hannah Cooper is an apprentice electrician with IBEW local 11.
For the past year and a half, I’ve had the great fortune of working on the new addition to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In the first two years of my electrical apprenticeship with IBEW Local 11, I worked on small jobs for small shops that had a very limited scope of work, so there weren’t very many aspects of the trade I had exposure to, much to my disappointment.
I was enormously frustrated with my limited experience. I would dream of working on a large, “class A” construction site for a good union shop that would afford me experience and training in more aspects of our field. But after a couple of years in the trade, based on the tales I’d heard from old-timers who worked in Los Angeles during the construction boom following the Northridge earthquake in the 90s, it seemed like a pipe dream.