IBEW Local 47 Members, SCE Employees Help Feed Those in Need
by Caroline Aoyagi-Stom
As Robert Madrigal lifted the heavy food donation boxes into a car recently at Long Beach City College, he could see the long line of vehicles waiting in the drive-through line stretching back almost to the nearby freeway.
It’s been like this for the past 20 food distribution events the Southern California Edison Field Services employee and IBEW Local 47 member has attended since the start of the pandemic, events sponsored by the Los Angeles Federation of Labor and the Labor Community Services of Los Angeles.
“It’s important to give back to the community, especially those in dire need,” said Madrigal, an SCE employee for 28 years, a union steward and executive board member of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus “COVID-19 has put a lot of people out of work, including union members. We are giving back to them and the larger community.”
Since March, the LA Fed and the Labor Community Services of Los Angeles have sponsored more than 50 food distribution events throughout Southern California and some SCE employees and IBEW Local 47 members have taken part in 20 of the all-day events.
Early in the morning, volunteers set up the site and then take it down after the event. Between 4-10 lanes are created at the drive-through events so vehicles can safely receive the donated food boxes. People stay in their cars and pop their trunks so the boxes can be loaded into their vehicles.
Of the 20 events Madrigal and other helpers have attended, almost 155,000 individuals received food donations of dried and frozen goods. Boxes were filled with various meal items, including fresh vegetables, chicken patties, cheese, macaroni and spaghetti. They also provided diapers for families with infants.
“People are very grateful to get the food,” he said.
Greg Vetter, an SCE employee in Field Accounting out of the Compton District, a union steward for 20 years and treasurer of IBEW Local 47, recently attended the Long Beach City College food distribution event.
“It’s always nice to give back to communities, to help others,” he said. “These people don’t have incomes right now.”
As essential workers at SCE, Madrigal and Vetter have continued to work five days a week. After consulting their managers, they have attended some food distribution events during the week and made time during the weekends. They have also encouraged co-workers to take part. IBEW Local 47 is sponsoring some of its members who take time off work to man the food distribution lines.
At some of the food distribution events, Madrigal has run into customers and sometimes answers questions about the company.
“SCE and IBEW work together on the services we provide and we both give back to the communities we serve,” he said, noting that about 14,000 SCE employees and contractors are part of IBEW Local 47.
“IBEW 47 is extremely proud and appreciative of the work that our members have done in the L.A. area distributing food to those at the food banks throughout the basin,” said Pat Lavin, IBEW 47 business manager. “Our hats are off to Robert Madrigal and Greg Vetter who have tirelessly worked on the efforts for the past few months. And as well to SCE troubleman Terrance Bynum and SCE and IBEW 47 retiree Tibor Foki for the work he’s done in Long Beach. Great work guys!!”
For updates on upcoming food distribution events sponsored by LA Fed and the Labor Community Services of Los Angeles, visit lcs-la.org/events