|On the Job with a Small Shop: Renovating Valley Medical Center|
IBEW workers with Silver Creek Electric are renovating Valley Medical Center’s Women and Children Center Postpartum Unit. It’s a total remodel with new rooms, lights, power recepticles, nurse call system, data wiring, fire alarm, and gas detection. According to Juan DeHaro, Silver Creek’s owner, he has peace of mind knowing IBEW’s highly skilled workers are on site. “I know what to expect, and they get the job done right,” he said.
Daniel Gorman, Journeyman
“I got into the trade in 1995, and I enjoy pulling wire, bending pipe, and installing panels. But probably the biggest satisfaction I get is completing a task and knowing I’ve done it right. I think every electrician loves that feeling when the lights turn on, knowing it’s because of your work.
“I’m adjusting to the new normal of wearing masks. It is what it is, but there’s comfort in the fact that everybody’s doing it–like we’re all in this together. That’s the same as unionism and the brotherhood. We have a collective bargaining agreement for the collective good.
“Being in the union is the best decision I ever made in my life. Our contracts are good, and the union takes care of us, whether it’s our health and welfare or our pension. Non-union workers don’t come close, and it’s the union that sets the standard for our industry.
“When I’m stressed out, I pick up my guitar. I’ve been playing and doing vocals since I was a kid. I’ve been in bands and play rock, hard rock, blues, and a little jazz. Randy Rhoads is my guitar hero. But I’d say who I really look up to is our military: those who are home now and those who didn’t make it back. I don’t think they get enough credit for protecting our country. They go out there and do the job when it needs to get done. And that’s how I like to show up for work: I like to get the job done, and get it done right.”
Rudy Salazar, Foreman
“I’ve been in the trades for 19 years, 13 with Silver Creek, and 12 of which have been as foreman. Right out of high school, I was with the carpenters, but on all the jobs, I saw what the electricians were doing and wanted to be a part of it. I love running pipe, pulling wire, and using math--there’s a lot of thought that goes into it, and it’s highly skilled work.”
“I like stepping on the job on Day 1: you’ve got your prints on the table, you figure out how many guys you need, your schedule, and your materials list. I’ll sometimes have five sets of drawings in front of me, because every trade needs power. It can be overwhelming at times, but I stay calm.
“We are a small company, and we keep a core crew. Some people have specialty skills sets and some are fairly new. You’re like a football coach and move people around. I’ll plan something and think it’s the best route, and one of the guys will make a suggestion for something I haven’t thought of before. I’m open ears to hearing different ways, and that’s how we teach each other. I feel like I’m always learning.”
“In my free time, I go bike riding with my wife and two kids and spend time with the family. But if I want to get my mind off things, I love to golf. I feel like the union allows me to make my life possible, and I can go anywhere and know I have work. That’s a really good feeling.”
The Union “Family” Difference
“Silver Creek is a small, family shop. My wife does the books, my daughter does the project management, and my sister-in-law does the front office. We have 15-20 workers, depending on our projects, and they are like family too. Everyone has been working together for years. Unlike bigger shops, no one is just a number, and we all know each other’s families. It brings people tighter.
“My father walked with Cesar Chavez as a mushroom farmer, and I’ve always been union. I want to pay more, so people can live better. I also benefit because when I have a bigger project, I just go down to the union hall. The next day I’ll have skilled workers who have been through the five-year apprenticeship whom I can trust. The non-union contractors just have to place a want ad. As a smaller shop, my main competition is non-union, but our skill gives us the edge.”