Garan Chivinski, human resources manager at Ingeteam USA, spoke with enthusiasm Wednesday morning about his company’s Code of Excellence agreement with Milwaukee Local 2150. The plant employs about 70 IBEW members and is the only U.S. facility manufacturing wind turbines.

A human resources manager may seem an unlikely guest on a union stage, but Garan Chivinski of Ingeteam USA got a warm reception Wednesday as he touted his company’s Code of Excellence pact with Milwaukee Local 2150.

About 70 IBEW members work at Ingeteam Milwaukee, which Chivinski said “is proud to be the only place where wind turbines are built right here in the United States.”

New employees and managers learn about the Code of Excellence at orientation, he said, adding that Local 2150 Assistant Business Manager Mike Bruening, who services the unit, “insisted that the Code training is mandated in the union contract.”

Summing up Ingeteam’s understanding of the Code’s values, Chivinski said, “Focus on quality. Don’t fear change. Keep each other honest and efficient. It is simple, profound, and true. If the product’s quality does not impress the customer, everybody, union and non, will lose.”

Through the COE, he said, the company has learned that “employees, union, and management can align on even some of the most stressful topics: safety, pandemic measures, sensitive complaints, toxic individuals and cliques, mental health —all those complicated gray areas, not covered in the contract or basic employment law.”

He had the highest praise for Bruening and a commanding steward, and said he wouldn’t want either as an adversary.

“[Steward] Akinlana Abdallah has a greater understanding of the production process than almost any other person in the company,” Chivinski said. “He is also a born leader whom our employees regard with deep respect.”

On rare occasions, he’s heard Abdallah challenge a wayward employee: “How is this the Code of Excellence? Where is the pride for the customer? The customer has just paid more to have this built in the USA. When they open this up, how do you think they are going to feel about that?

“Simple. Profound. True,” Chivinksi said again. “It is one thing to read about a code of excellence in training, quite another to see and hear it shape the values and performance on the floor.”

Bruening, he said, “lives and breathes for this brotherhood and personally knows — and genuinely cares about — each individual employee at Ingeteam… [He] has an incisive mind and sharp ability to problem solve. I have watched Mike use his incredible grasp of industrial relations and our own team members’ lives and motivations to craft game-changing solutions to major challenges.”

Despite a fear of public speaking, Chivinski said he holds Bruening in such high regard that he couldn’t refuse his request to talk about the Code at 40th International Convention.

He eagerly shared his own union bona fides, beginning with his mother, a New York public school teacher and proud union member who was the first person in generations of her family to move from grinding poverty to the middle class.

“Growing up, she always reminded us that without the union, we would not have had nice clothes, a good dentist, access to medical care, and special family vacations,” he said. “Indeed, I have often told people that I was raised by my mother, my father, and the Yonkers Federation of Teachers.

“I am truly grateful to have been the beneficiary of your beautiful theme for this event —'Lighting the Path to the Middle Class,’” Chivinski said. “I would like to thank Mike Bruening, [Business Manager] Bob Stone, and all of IBEW Local 2150 for giving me this opportunity to make my mother proud by being your guest at this convention.”