John F. Bourne
John Bourne learned about giving back to the community from his parents.
“My family has been in public service forever,” he said. “My parents always said you’re supposed to be there to help.”
That’s one of the reasons he wanted to become a director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Omaha Branch Board—he could give voice to the thousands of working people throughout the Tenth Federal Reserve District.
Bourne is an international representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the largest electrical union in the world, with 750,000 members who work in utilities, manufacturing, construction, railways and other industries.
“We have one of the largest training and apprenticeship programs in the nation,” he said.
Several IBEW members faced tough times during the recession as manufacturing, construction and other sectors of industry declined.
“I’ve learned that what the Fed does, such as setting interest rates, effects business and labor,” he said.
He interacts with the companies and businesses that employ IBEW members throughout a 10-state area that includes the Tenth District.
As a director he can provide the Fed feedback from both a business and labor perspective, which will help in making monetary policy decisions.
“Manufacturing is not as big as it used to be, and I don’t know if it will ever be what it was, but it is coming back,” he said.
He also can learn from the Federal Reserve and his fellow directors.
“I’m interested in how different businesses interact; it fascinates me how business and the financial world works,” he said.
The economy has changed and continues to change rapidly, he said.
Bourne hopes he can impart what he learns to IBEW members and the companies his union services, especially on matters of labor.
“In industry, we need people to make it work, but that labor pool, and the work itself, has changed in the past few decades,” he said.
IBEW apprentices used to be in the early 20s, now they are in the late 20s and some have college educations.
“The work also requires either more training or additional training, considering how much technology has changed things.” B