“It’s My ‘Freedom Ticket,’” Says IBEW Member Crystal Rourke, Who’s The Focus Of The Latest In A Series Of National TV Advertisements ‘Highlighting The Value’ Of Union Membership For Young People Looking For A Stable, Middle-Class Career
Crystal Rourke says life wasn’t quite as tough two years ago as it now sounds.
Yes, she was going through a divorce and often had to work three jobs to support her three sons, including working as a Probation Officer, a Corrections Officer and driving for Lyft.
She also worked towards a graduate degree so she could become full-time Probation Officer.
Through it all, she tried to maintain a positive attitude, though that wasn’t always easy.
“Fake it until you make it,” the U.S. Army veteran said with a laugh. “I was just pushing and pushing forward.”
In early 2018, while working for Asplundh, the international tree-trimming company, and still attending school, Rourke finally got a well-earned break.
A co-worker told her Xcel Energy, a long-time International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) utility partner in Minnesota, was hiring Groundmen and Drivers and encouraged her to put her name on the books at IBEW Minneapolis Local 160.
Initially, Rourke was hesitant to do so.
She feared she would be “laughed out of the office.”
She overcame the initial fears, however, and after applying, she was called back for an interview.
Rourke said the person interviewing told her she was qualified - except she lacked a tanker endorsement, which allows Drivers to haul 1,000 gallons or more of liquid and gas.
She immediately drove 15 minutes to a Minnesota Motor Vehicle Branch Office, studied for the test on her phone and earned her endorsement later that afternoon.
With that, Rourke was hired in April 2018 and earned Local 160 Membership in the process.
She’s left her other jobs and now is able to spend more time with her sons – ages 15, 13 and 9 – and to provide the family with quality health insurance.
She’s also the focus of the latest in a series of national television advertisements, which highlight the value of IBEW Membership for young people looking for a career that will provide a stable, Middle-Class life without the burden of college debt.
“It’s my ‘freedom ticket,’” Rourke, 35, said. “It’s my way to ‘make my own way,’ to provide for my family and be able to take off weekends and holidays. ‘I’m not just surviving, I’m living.’ ‘That was a huge deal for me.’ ‘If you told me a year ago where I’d be now, I would’ve felt like I’d won the lottery.’”
Rourke grew up in rural Missouri, but it wasn’t an easy childhood.
She was adopted at age five and her mother died when she was 14.
She became estranged from her father and was sent to live with family members in Tennessee, where she finished high school before joining the Army.
She met her ex-husband in the military and their first son was born in Germany.
“Her enthusiasm ‘is just so impressive,’” IBEW Local 160 Business Manager Robert Boogren said. “She ‘never seems to have a down moment.’ ‘It’s amazing she’s turned into such a positive person because things could have easily gone the other way.’”
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