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   Date: 1/15/10 Bookmark and Share

Ford Electrical Workers Give a Plug for Smith Students

For two years, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union, Local 7, who wired electrical systems throughout Ford Hall, had $1 per hour deducted from their paychecks for a good cause.

Their dollars, when added up over the duration of the Ford Hall project, would be used to establish a scholarship to assist students in western Massachusetts and others to attend Smith. By the end of their contract work on Ford Hall, the union had contributed $40,000 to establish the IBEW Local 7 Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship will provide financial assistance in the amount of $5,000 per academic year for as many as three students, with a preference for residents of western Massachusetts, then engineering majors, and those with demonstrated financial need.

“Over many years Smith has reached out to the community,” said Bob Wilson, a business representative for the union, which is based in Springfield. “What this scholarship does is enhance the relationship between union workers and the college, and will hopefully allow a couple local students to go to Smith.”

Some 40 IBEW Local 7 electrical workers installed electrical wiring throughout Ford Hall, for lighting systems, power and security. The union has a membership of 520 workers, employees of 40 contractors in western Massachusetts.

The Smith scholarship is the first such project initiated by the IBEW Local 7, said Dan D’Alma, business manager for the union.

“Smith is deeply commited to providing young women with access to an education, regardless of their financial circumstances,” said Carla Byers, development officer, who worked with the union in establishing the scholarship. “These union workers understand the importance of educating young women of promise and stepped up to the plate. We are pleased to have partnered with them.”

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