UWUA Local 304 Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIO

On the weekend of March 25th, 2023, SkillsUSA held the statewide competition for West Virginia High School students who participate in career and technical education (CTE) classes at various career centers. This was a chance for the best of the best of career center student to compete for a chance to go to the National SkillsUSA contest in June at Atlanta, GA.

  SkillsUSA is an organization that works to develop student for jobs in various career fields and strengthen the nation’s  workforce by turning out young,  ambitious, and employable young people who are interested in careers in the vocational and/or technical jobs sector.  SkillsUSA is in 53 state and territorial education associations with nearly 14 million annual members since 1965, with 130 different job categories in over 17,000 classrooms nationwide.

Our country is facing a skills gap as “baby-boomers” retire, leaving a deficit of qualified workers to replace them. This is especially true in the skilled trades.

For the 2nd year, Fairmont State University hosted the competition at the Marion County Technical Center located on the North Marion High School campus. There were also competitions in other job classifications at MTEC in Morgantown, and UTC in Clarksburg.

UWUA Local 304 President Stewart Whitehair and UWUA member Ricci Bodkins are both electricians at Harrison Power Station and were asked to judge the competition with Michael Kenny and retired CTE Electrical Instructor Dave Lewis from Putnam County Career and Technical Center.

Stew and Ricci arrived at Marion County Technical Center’s campus on Thursday and helped Marion Country Technical Center instructor Jeff Greenly get set up for the contest.

Before beginning, all students had a safety briefing. There were two competitions held in Mr. Greenly’s classroom and Mr. Morris of MCTC’s Aerospace technology program was a great help in the layout and design of the competition and assisting the judges.

Friday’s contest was 6-hour timed event on industrial motor control. The students were given a project description, layout drawing, and schematic for a 3 phase 120/208V motor circuit with forward, reverse, stop buttons and limit switches.

Saturday’s test was a residential wiring project in which students had 4-hours to wire a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) with a branch duplex receptacle, a pair of three-way switches and a keyless light fixture. The catch was that all receptacles had to trip with the GFCI but the light had to remain on!

The SkillsUSA program is proof of the great things that can be accomplished when education, industry, and labor work together. UWUA members were able to participate thanks to Local 304 and Mon Power’s Volunteer Paid Time Off Program, which is available to Harrison Power Station’s employees through First Energy to allow employees time-off to engage in meaningful activities in the communities we serve.  It was a real privilege and honor to be a part of this great competition!

Good luck to all the finalists from UWUA Local 304!