I met Brian Smith and his grandmother Jean on a Sunday morning in South Los Angeles. Brian was a recent graduate of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11’s “boot camp” training program designed to prepare new members for the rigors of the trade. I had first come across Brian at the Wilshire Grand Center construction site as he waited for an elevator so he could move his cart of materials to a higher floor. It was only his third day on the job – he seemed enthusiastic but unsure of what the future held.
Brian told me that a union electrician from the neighborhood had come to his home in his off time to help his grandmother with some wiring. Brian, who had been working as a marketer in the music industry, was looking for something more stable – a career he could depend on. The Local 11 electrician invited him to look into his trade.