On a crystal clear, chilly winter day in December, hundreds of labor, management and government leaders, as well as IBEW members and California-Nevada JATC trustees, came together to celebrate the grand opening of the Cal-Nev Joint Apprentice Training Center (JATC)’s state-of-the art facility in Woodland, California. Attendees gathered in the JATC’s brand-new equipment building known as the “the barn” to inaugurate the first and only training center in Northern California that’s built and owned by the Cal-Nev JATC.
More than 15 years ago, the JATC began having discussions around building and owning a training center in Northern California, but at that time, the amount of line construction work in the North didn’t support the costs. Before the new Woodland facility was built, apprentices in Northern California attended weekend schools in modular trailers and old warehouses, and had to travel all the way down to Cal-Nev JATC’s main training facility in Riverside, CA for weeklong classes and other apprenticeship requirements.
Around 10 years ago, the work volume in the north began to increase substantially, and four years ago the JATC made the decision to purchase a property in Woodland and begin development on a new $12-million-dollar facility. The extraordinary labor-management- initiative overcame numerous challenges, culminating in the purchase of the 13-acre site, the construction of the training center (completed using 100% union labor), and the recruitment of staff and instructors.
The Woodland facility began hosting its first classes earlier this year. Some of 1245’s Outside Line Construction Business Reps, including Assistant Business Manager Ralph Kenyon, and Business Representatives Ethan Stonecipher and Benjamin Contreras, work as part-time instructors at the JATC. The timing couldn’t be better, given the urgent need for skilled journeymen linemen and line clearance tree trimmers to continue hardening the grid, mitigating fire threats, and meeting the increasing demand for skilled labor. More than 700 apprentices were part of the JATC in 2021, and the program has committed to adding at least an additional 300 in the coming year.
At the open house event, several notable leaders, including Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Woodland) and California Department of Labor Secretary Natalie Palugyai came to mark the momentous occasion, as did representatives from the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) which Secretary Palugyai oversees. Additionally, IBEW 1245 Business Manager Bob Dean, Senior Assistant Business Managers Ralph Armstrong, Anthony Brown, and Bob Gerstle, 1245’s Executive Board members and other 1245 business representatives, organizers, and retirees joined members of the JATC Board of Trustees, union representatives from IBEW Local Unions 47 and 396, staff and JATC trainers at the open house. Several apprentice linemen, on site for a week of Hotstick/Live line tools training, were also in attendance to celebrate the launch of the state-of-the-art JATC training center.
For Armstrong, who serves as Local 1245’s Trustee to the JATC, this event signified the culmination of many years of hard work. In conjunction with 1245 Business Manager Dean, IBEW 1245 Political Director Hunter Stern and labor leaders and contractors from the labor-management partnership, Brother Armstrong was also instrumental in securing $4.7 million in grants with the help from the CWDB and their High Roads Training Partnership to develop standardized line clearance tree trimming training, jumpstarting the long-awaited tree trimming certification program, a dream for many years.
“The opening of this new facility allows our JATC to offer rigorous hands-on training, and supports quality, union jobs in the line construction and line clearance tree trimming industry for California and Nevada,” Armstrong said with pride.
The formal presentation concluded with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, and the hundreds who gathered for the occasion shared delicious food from Chando’s Taco Truck and Waffle Ice Cream cones for dessert.
Congratulations to all who contributed to building the dream!