Last year, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was asked by the city to take charge of an $8.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program to weatherize the homes of low-income customers. The nonprofits that typically do the work didn’t feel they had the capabilities.
Brian D’Arcy, Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 — the union that represents most LADWP workers — saw an opportunity to work with the Department to kick-start an 18-month training program that would address the problem of an aging LADWP workforce. The “Utility Pre-Craft Trainee Program” would link L.A.’s struggling communities with careers in the utility at a time when 40 percent of Local 18’s 8,000 members were at or near retirement age. These trainees would be an ideal workforce for the weatherization program.