Collective brings powerful voice to safety, negotiations, legislation
The Alaska Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, or AK NECA, was chartered in Alaska in 1953 and has been representing electrical contractors signatory to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
IBEW) since that time.
“While our members are union signatory electrical contractors, we endeavor to represent the interests of the electrical contracting industry as a whole,” executive manager Larry Bell said.
NECA provides a collective voice for contractors who work with the electrical workers union. It also partners with the IBEW in oversight of the pension, health insurance and legal trusts, as well as a statewide electrical apprenticeship school with campuses in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
“Those are all administered jointly by NECA and IBEW,” Bell said.
The Alaska chapter has a membership of 31 electrical contractors statewide. Taken collectively, Bell said, they perform approximately half of the electrical work happening at any one time in Alaska.
“We represent any size company, from working owners to some of the largest electrical contractors in the state,” he said.
Bell said NECA conducts labor relations and negotiations for its member firms. The association also monitors legislative activity locally and nationally.
“NECA is the largest specialty contractor political action committee and one of the largest construction political action committees in general nationwide,” he said.
In Alaska, NECA’s focus recently, like that of every contractor, has been on the state budget.
“We are certainly all about promoting a sustainable state budget, developing new revenue components for the state and seeing an enhanced state capital budget,” Bell said. “Our members are Alaska-based contractors. The sustainability of Alaska is our main issue.”
Nationally, NECA sets the framework for safe operating procedures for electricians. The association helps develop electrical standards, technical guides and electronic tools; works with other partners to produce training programs; and provides forums for electrical contractors to connect with their colleagues.
“You get that benefit of developing relationships with other contractors that have the same challenges and issues you have,” said Scott Bringmann, president of Alcan Electrical and Engineering Inc.
Alcan Electric was recently recognized for 45 years of membership in the NECA Alaska chapter. In that time, Bringmann said, Alcan owners have actively participated in local NECA governance. Company founder (and Bringmann’s father) George Bringmann served on the board of directors and chapter president for nearly 20 years. Currently, five Alcan employees have roles with NECA or represent NECA in the construction industry, including Scott Bringmann, who serves as the chapter president.
Fullford Electric in Fairbanks is also a longtime NECA member. President Lael Fullford said his company makes use of the many national NECA resources, from bidding help, to advocacy, to assisting with help with employer-employee issues.
Being a NECA member requires paying monthly membership fees, but Fullford said it’s well worth it.
“The documents they produce, we use those daily. I talk to Larry (Bell) probably once a month regarding contractual issues or pick his brain on one thing or another. I use their services quite regularly,” Fullford said.
“They are a very valuable resource to the success of our business. I wouldn’t want to be an electrical contractor without being a NECA member,” he said.
Dave McAllen, general manager of Haakenson Electric, is a member of the NECA board of directors and has been a vice president of the Alaska chapter of NECA for more than four years. He said he values many aspects of NECA membership, especially having a voice in the contract negotiations process.
The company also holds weekly Toolbox Talks focused on safety, with materials drawn from NECA’s library of safety tips. McAllen serves on NECA’s national workforce development and apprenticeship committees. He has an active role in the development of curriculum and standards, he said, which gives him a role in the development of the future Alaska workforce.
McAllen said being an active member of NECA has helped Haakenson Electric in numerous ways.
“If we remained a union contractor but not a NECA member, we wouldn’t have a voice or a say. You can be signatory to the IBEW and not be a NECA member, but you don’t have a seat at the table or a voice. By being an active member, we have a pretty strong voice in the direction we might take,” McAllen said.
“You only get out of any association or membership what you put in, so be active and share your voice,” Bringmann said.