IBEW Local 424 Promotes Dialogue Over Division with Alberta Government

Categories: Canada, IBEW

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (centre) is pictured sporting an IBEW Local 424 sweater. From left to right, Premier Smith is joined by Todd Chrunik (Training Director, IBEW 424), Scott Crichton, Michael Reinhart, Bill Begemann (International Representative, IBEW Canada).

In a move underscored by a determination to transcend political affiliations, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 424 is redefining its engagement with Alberta’s government officials. Traditionally cast in the light of partisan endorsements, the Local’s approach pivots towards an inclusive dialogue—a testament to their commitment to better serve IBEW members and the larger Alberta community.

Michael Reinhart, Business Manager/Financial Secretary of IBEW Local 424, and Assistant Business Manager Scott Crichton are at the forefront of this strategic alignment. Crichton, a Red Seal Electrician by trade, was working in government relations when he met Reinhart, who quickly recognized such a unique skill set.  It wasn’t long before Crichton was recruited to spearhead government relations for the Local. 

“Scott has been instrumental in helping us to foster stronger relationships with government officials.  He understands our trade, the value of the IBEW, and knows how to navigate the political world” shared Michael. The two form a dynamic pair: Michael’s leadership qualities are reflected in his outgoing personality, visionary outlook, and action-oriented approach, while Scott’s meticulous nature and extensive knowledge of government relations breathe life into a frequently under-utilized role within union offices. Their complementary skills drive Local 424’s objectives forward with a balanced blend of charisma and precision.

“We’ve come to appreciate the importance of dialogue over division. Working with government leaders, regardless of political stance, is crucial for our mission to enhance job prosperity for our members and ensure economic sustainability for the community here in Alberta,” said Reinhart. Indeed, a recent engagement with Alberta’s Premier, Danielle Smith, has been recognized as a significant milestone, illustrating the benefits of open communication between the local and provincial leaders.

Yet, the path to this constructive interface has not been without obstacles; Local 424 initially struggled to garner a response from Alberta’s Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade. Instead of surrendering to partisanship, they contacted Smith’s office directly.  The Premier responded swiftly, accepting an invitation to meet with the union’s leadership team and tour the Local’s 45,000-square-foot training facility in Edmonton. The tour spotlighted the exceptional training programs offered through the IBEW—a blend of academic rigour and hands-on experience. Beyond training, the Local’s partnership with educational institutions, reintegration initiatives for veterans, and support for international electricians strengthen the economic impact of the larger community.

A video and photo of the Premier’s tour were shared separately on her Instagram page. The photo caption reads, “I want to thank [IBEW Local 424] for their kind invitation to visit their training centre and speak with their executive team. There is lots we are going to do together—more to say on that later!”

Reinhart has been pleasantly surprised by the Premier’s reception of the union, citing the Local’s ability to engage in bipartisan dialogue as a key factor. “Our aim is to remain neutral and be politically active without favouritism. We are not enemies but partners in progress,” Reinhart stated, a sentiment echoed by IBEW First District International Vice President Russ Shewchuk.  

“We’re seeing a long overdue shift in how our local unions approach government,” remarked Shewchuk.  “At the end of the day, collaboration trumps confrontation. The IBEW’s interests have always been and will continue to be with our members: lobbying for fair wages, safer working conditions, and the highest training standards in the industry. Working with our elected officials is the key to having our voice heard. We don’t have to agree on everything, but we do need to work together.”

Local 424 hopes the rapport established during the Premier’s visit will be the first step in creating a better dialogue between both parties. “Our engagement with Premier Smith was enlightening. We hope it marks the beginning of an ongoing conversation and that when insight is needed, they will think of the IBEW and the knowledge and expertise we bring to the table,” Reinhart reflected.

Despite their extensive reach as the second largest IBEW jurisdiction in Canada, issues such as non-enforcement of apprenticeship ratios, underutilization of qualified trades professionals in renewable energy projects, and the questionable practice of double-breasted bidding remain a large concern.  Reinhart is determined to ensure visibility into these issues across all corners of government to initiate constructive discussion in pursuit of solutions. While the Local is no stranger to advocacy (offering meticulously curated lobby packages, education for members on related labour matters and engaging in diligent follow-ups with government officials), Reinhart and Crichton consider the personal contact made with Premier Smith a huge step forward.

IBEW Local 424’s inclusive approach suggests that building bridges with unconventional allies may pave the way for increased dialogue between elected officials and the IBEW on industry-specific matters. Reinhart succinctly says, “We’re not asking for much—just to be included in the conversation. After all, we are all Albertans. We’re all in this together.”

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