The Electric Current Blog

guests at event.

Supporting Woman and Minority-owned Businesses

Supporting minority-owned businesses is a powerful way to promote economic, social, and cultural progress, while advancing diversity, equality, and inclusion in our society.

On May 11, 2023 the Electrical Alliance, Washington DC Chapter NECA,& LOCAL 26 IBEW hosted an event to present opportunities for minority-owned businesses. Electrical and general contractors had the chance to explore joint ventures and partnerships, and network with business executives, elected officials, and community leaders. Business opportunities for publicly funded projects based on new Virginia laws and workforce opportunities for local residents were also presented. 

Minority-owned businesses often play a crucial role in revitalizing and strengthening underserved communities. We are committed to reversing the systemic barriers and discrimination that minority-owned businesses have historically faced. We accomplish this by providing access to resources and opportunities and provide them with the necessary support, visibility, and resources to thrive. 

Electrical Alliance, Washington DC Chapter NECA,& LOCAL 26 IBEW are proud to uplift and support all of our entrepreneurs, contractors, and their communities and families.

 guests at event. guests at event.

ship in ocean.

The Role of Electricians in Promoting a Sustainable Environment

Electricians are the frontline soldiers in the fight for a sustainable future. They install and maintain every major weapon we have against climate change from decarbonization, electrification, and solar arrays to wind turbines and electric vehicle charging stations. 

The most skilled and experienced electricians with these systems happen to belong to the IBEW.

IBEW Local 26 has been partnering with environmentalists, nonprofits, governments, and industry leaders to advance the transition to a sustainable carbon future. Almost a year ago, Local 26 created the Green Energy Collaboration, bringing stakeholders together to prepare for the upcoming Inflation Reduction Act grants and tax credits. The Biden administration has also incentivized using union labor and the IBEW has been happy to teach the industry about new labor standards.

On March 20th IBEW Local 26 co-hosted an event with The Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition (GWRCCC) and the Baltimore/D.C.-Metro Building Trades Council. The event, Inflation Reduction Act Tax Credits and Workforce Standards Workshop, brought in headliners Betony Jones, Director of the Office of Energy Jobs, and Congressman Glenn Ivey.

“Energizing people to fully take advantage of incentives in the environmental realm is important work,” said Congressman Glenn Ivey. “Talking about the economy in ways that show just how important the Inflation Reduction Act is to everyday Americans is one way to build momentum. I look forward to being a part of this forum to disseminate meaningful information.”

The workshop was an opportunity for contractors and developers to learn how to take advantage of IRA tax credits. The IRA includes tax credits and workforce standards for clean energy jobs in the solar industry, electric vehicle (EV) charging, energy efficiency, fleet electrification, clean energy, and renewable energy sectors. 

The event also promoted business opportunities for local contractors with an emphasis on women and minority-owned businesses. It did so by encouraging the creation of clean energy jobs that pay prevailing wages and provide registered apprenticeship training.

Being at the forefront of changing technology is nothing new for the IBEW. For years, our electricians have received special training to install wind turbines off the coast. For example, in the DMV, Local 26 offers EVTIP certification to install EV charging stations. In addition, Kelly Electric, one of our NECA contractors, built the largest solar array in the history of DC. 

The Electrical Alliance of IBEW and NECA will continue to prioritize protecting our environment through innovative sustainability solutions and partnerships like the Green Energy Collaboration.

Green Energy logo

Women at construction site.

International Women’s Day Spotlight:  Contemporary Electrical Services

This International Women’s Day, we’re showcasing Contemporary Electrical Services (CES), an Electrical Alliance contractor passionate about creating a more equitable workplace. CES strives to create equal opportunity for everybody by actively recruiting a diverse workforce and valuing the perspectives of all employees. 

“Since 1989, CES has been a leader in the electrical contracting industry and an advocate for a wide variety of causes,” said Human Resources Director CES Kara Cuskelly. 

For example, in 2022, CES sponsored the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington Youth & Real Estate Event to invest in opportunities for our youth. 

CES has also started an initiative to help women in the industry network with one another. To do so, two women on their team created a Women’s Golf Clinic to help women gain more confidence attending corporate golf outings. 

“Some of our team members are also members of The National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC), which is committed to championing women to impact the direction of the construction industry,” Cuskelly added. 

In honor of March’s Women in Construction week, CES is saying thanks to the talented, committed women on their team.

“In a predominantly male industry, our women are extremely hard working and a tremendous asset to the team,” said Cuskelly. “We encourage women to join the trades and hope that we see an increase within this demographic in our near future.” 

Women in office with dogs.

president Biden speaking at IBEW Local Union 26.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers speech from IBEW Local 26 in Lanham

On February 15, U.S. President Joe Biden visited the IBEW Local 26 in Lanham to deliver updates on the economy and the government’s initiatives.

The President outlined his plan to reduce the deficit and raise the US national debt ceiling, urging Republicans to help him do so.

Members of the IBEW Local 26 note Biden’s economic plan has contributed to a growing manufacturing boom across the country which is helping to create jobs, including jobs in unions.

“President Biden has long been an advocate for organizing and empowering unions, so we were proud to have him deliver important updates from the IBEW Local 26,” said Joe Dabbs, Business Manager, IBEW Local 26.

During his appearance, President Biden also ordered the federal government to do more in combating racial inequality. The order, signed during Black History Month amid increased public pressure, aims to improve access to federal programs, services, and activities for disadvantaged communities.

“We were very pleased to see this order put in place and I hope it will help us all as a nation continue to forge forward…”

For more information on President Biden’s initiatives to support unions, go to

Looking Forward

As we begin 2023, I wanted to reflect on goals for the next 12 months. I’m so proud of all we have accomplished together in 2022 and I believe we will build on that momentum.

Online Presence

We’re in the process of revamping the IBEW and Electrical Alliance websites, as well as our marketing campaigns to bring in new members and contractors. We want to continue putting an emphasis on growing our contractors through initiatives with local governments, SWAM enterprises, and general contractors.

The Electrical Alliance site has been steadily receiving upgrades directed by the marketing team at Drio, who have done a great job so far. The Local 26 website is also being modernized with the help of our current hosts, Web Connectivity. The goal is the same for both: Create streamlined, modern sites that serve as a gateway into our trade, in concert with a new package of digital advertisements.

Expansion in Southern Maryland

We are looking to expand the Local 26 office in Southern Maryland. Having had a presence in Southern Maryland for over 30 years, we plan to extend our footprint by offering apprenticeship training and continuing education classes.

Environmentalist Collaborations

It is important that we partner with our environmentalist brothers and sisters as the grants come out from the Inflation Reduction Act. This will ensure we win work that upgrades our country’s infrastructure. These are the projects that will set us up for success, not just this year, but for many to come.

In 2022, we started the Green Energy Collaboration between labor and environmentalists. In 2023, we’ll continue following the new projects that come down from the IRA and give guidance to developers on how to best meet labor standards by utilizing our contractors.

I believe 2023 will be a landmark year for us. We will attract new contractors, grow existing contractors, and establish creative partnerships. Here’s to another successful year with IBEW Local 26 and the Electrical Alliance.


Joe Dabbs
Business Manager
IBEW Local 26


Happy Holidays

Wishing you a season filled with joy and hope!

It’s been another eventful year at the Electrical Alliance. Here are some of our favorite stories from 2022.



The Maryland Electricians Act now offers a statewide Journeyman and Apprentice License.

Read More >


Fast Charging Stations are bringing convenience to electric car owners in the Washington, D.C. area.

Read More >


Environmentalists, contractors, manufacturers, and union members formed a new coalition to advocate for labor standards in green energy legislation.

Read More >


Celebrating the legacy of George Hogan, business manager of the IBEW Local 26.

Read More >


We’re so excited to have partnered with Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation on the video ‘The Life Cycle of an Electrician’.

Read More >


Thank you for making 2022 a truly outstanding year. We send you our best wishes for a prosperous and healthy new year.

JATC grad

Video Premiere: ‘The Life Cycle of an Electrician’

We’re so excited to have partnered with Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation on the video ‘The Life Cycle of an Electrician’.

The video follows Che’Maiah, Brian, and Chad as they discuss the career stages for an electrician. Skills-based education, hands-on training, and expert guidance from local contractors allow apprentices to move up and eventually become a master electrician or business owner.

Check out the video to see what you can accomplish as part the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee’s apprenticeship program:

Members attending a ceremony.

Uplifting Small, Women-Owned, and Minority Contractors

On October 11, 2022, community and union members came together to uplift small, women-owned, and minority contractors (SWaM) across the Washington, DC region.

The event included electrical, plumbing, steam-fitting, and mechanical contracting unions. Members of IBEW Local 26, UA Local 5 and 602, NECA, MCA, city councils, school boards, and non-profits were all in attendance.

The goal of the event was to shed light on how local unions have influenced SWaM contractors’ career trajectories and the communities they call home.

This sense of support from unions is instrumental in setting individuals up for the rest of their lives. By offering continuing education, trade unions help members break free from college debt, while getting healthcare, and even buying homes. Apprentices come in, earn an education, and walk away with a career path to a more secure way of life.

“The union gave me an opportunity after my mom died when I had none,” said IBEW Local 26 member Claudia Achury.

“I have worked hard to be successful for myself, my kids, and my union. I have just applied to be a Project Manager and am studying to be an electrical engineer. Since I have become an electrician with IBEW, I bought a home and just bought another in South Carolina. Like any woman, I want to be successful.”

Of course, it isn’t only the contractors themselves who benefit from the support of unions. There’s a ripple effect throughout the community when workers are supported—especially SWaM workers.

“I take my job as an elected official and steward of taxpayer dollars very seriously,” said Michele Reiff of the Alexandria School Board.

“If we can make sure that these building modernizations are completed on time and on budget, using the best-trained folks, pay the best wages, keep the highest safety standards, provide job opportunities for city residents, and on-the-job training, that is a win-win.”

Interested in a rewarding career as an electrician?

For more information about our electrical apprenticeship training program, head to our Get Charged Up page.

JATC grad


What year are you in the program?

3rd and Final Year of the Telecomm Program


What Company do you work for?

Cabling Systems Incorporated


What’s it like being a telecomm apprentice?

It’s a lot of fun. I get to try a lot of new things and get a better understanding of what I’m doing at work in the field. I love learning to problem solve and about other aspects of the work that I’m interested in.


What is your favorite subject in the classroom?

Oddly enough I really liked AC/DC theory even though I don’t currently use it at my job.


What is your favorite type of work in the field?

I like audio visual work. With AV I love getting to wire and setup conference rooms: microphones, screens, speakers, phones, etc. I like seeing a project from the barebones up until I get to actually walk the customer through how to use the technology.


How are you staying involved with IBEW?

I joined the sisters of 26 a group for sisters and identifying sisters to come together as females in the trade to share our experiences. Now I’m the recording secretary. Then I joined the EWMC the Electrical Workers Minority Coalition and even got to go to the gala this year. I’m starting to get involved with RENEW which is a club for the apprentices and members under 35 to share their experiences of coming up through the trade.


What do you think sets you apart as an apprentice?

I try to never stop asking questions. That helps me to advance because I’m always taking initiative to take that next step and be a better helper. I’m always trying to anticipate and be helpful to my foreman or supervisor.


What’s next?

I’m reaching out to other apprentices at my company to get them more involved. I want to see more active apprentices in networking and the union before they become Journeyman.

IBEW Local 26 and Environmentalists Pursue a Green Energy Collaboration that Supports Workers 

Lanham, MD – On August 28th environmentalists, contractors, manufacturers, and union members formed a new coalition. The goal of this collaboration is to advocate for labor standards in green energy legislation at the state and local level while working together on active federal projects.

The event was hosted by IBEW Local 26 at their headquarters in Lanham, Maryland and focused on finding ways to pursue a greener future without sacrificing workers’ equity.

The attendees discussed creating partnerships on upcoming projects like EV charging stations and large-scale solar arrays. They also discussed legislative priorities like prevailing wage, wage theft protections, and community workforce agreements.

Historically, labor and the green movement have been at odds over the acceleration towards a clean economy because of low wages in green tech construction and rampant worker abuses.

“It’s a tough ask for a mine worker making ~$60,000/yr or a pipeline welder making ~$70,000/yr to cut their salaries in half installing solar panels, with no healthcare, retirement, or time off,” said Don Slaiman. “The solar industry was rolled out by the Rahm Emanuel staffed White House which prioritized investing in green entrepreneurs to kick start and drive the industry which resulted in prioritizing a race to the bottom. The Biden Administration is emphasizing labor standards and matching sustainable jobs with the goal of achieving a sustainable environment. Green Energy careers!”

This partnership between the labor and environmentalist movements aims to mend that rift and ensure that, moving forward, the transition to a clean economy is equitable for everyone in the community.

The solar installation field represents a unique opportunity for organized labor and the IBEW. These large-scale solar arrays need to be built by union contractors. At the same time, the current solar installers have an opportunity, a pathway to a meaningful career with higher pay and benefits as union electricians.

“Ultimately, we have to make sure we prioritize creating equity as we make transitions to a greener economy,” said Slaiman. “We have to keep both the environment and disaffected communities in mind by continuing to provide good wages and benefits. If we all work together, it is absolutely possible.”