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National Lineman Appreciation Day

The hard work, dedication, and innovation of electrical lineworkers are honored and celebrated today. The idea for National Lineman Appreciation Day came when lineman Bill Bosch realized the public was largely unaware of the work that lineworkers do and thought that should change. He wanted lineworkers to be honored with a day and submitted legislation for National Lineman Appreciation Day to Congress. He chose April 18 for the date because his father, M.L. "Cliff" Bosch, who also was a lineman, passed away on the date in 1992.

On April 10, 2013, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) submitted Senate Resolution 95 on behalf of himself and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), and it was agreed to by unanimous consent. It "recognize[d] the efforts of linemen in keeping the power on and protecting public safety" and "support[ed] the designation of April 18, 2013, as National Lineman Appreciation Day." The day has continued to be observed each year since.

Linemen—or lineworkers—construct and maintain "electric power transmission, telecommunications lines (cable, internet and phone), and distribution lines." They work with energized and de-energized power lines and install or replace distribution equipment like capacitor banks, distribution transformers on poles, insulators, and fuses. Their work can be dangerous, so they wear personal protective equipment such as rubber gloves and sleeves, and utilize protective blankets, insulated bucket liners, and hot sticks.

Lineworkers work outside at all times of day, in all types of weather, and often far from home. At times they are first responders, showing up to restore power after storms and natural disasters and making the area safe for other first responders. National Lineman Appreciation Day came on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, which affected 24 states and did $65 million in damage, and where lineworkers came from all over to get the country up and running again.

The profession began in the 1840s when the telegraph became widespread. Those who put up wooden poles and strung telegraph lines on them became known as linemen. The profession expanded following the invention of the telephone in the 1870s and with the start of electrification in the 1890s, since both the telephone and electricity used lines similar to the telegraph.

The risk of electrocution from power lines made the work more dangerous than it had been, to the point that linework was one of the most hazardous jobs of the early twentieth century. On account of this, labor organizations were formed in the late 1930s to represent lineworkers and address their safety concerns. The danger of the job also spurred apprenticeship programs and more stringent safety standards.

Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal expanded rural electrification in the United States in the 1930s, which in turn expanded jobs in the electric power industry. Many lineworkers during this era traveled around the country to where the work was. Not only did they string wires, but they constructed towers and substations. They often spent weeks or months in a location and then moved to another. With continued residential electrification expansion in the 1940s and '50s, the demand for lineworkers for maintenance and repairs continued.

Today, an aspiring lineworker usually serves as an apprentice during a four-year-long training program, and then becomes a "Journey Lineworker." In addition, schools like Southeast Lineman Training Center and Northwest Lineman College provide lineworker training that precedes apprenticeship work. The profession remains essential for the functioning of society, and as of 2020, there are more than 115,000 lineworkers in the United States. We honor and celebrate them with National Lineman Appreciation Day!

How to Observe National Lineman Appreciation Day

Honor and celebrate lineworkers today! Thank any you know, as well as any you see working and use the hashtag #ThankALineman with any social media posts of thanks you make. You could view the "Thank a Lineman" tribute gallery and add a lineman to it by submitting text and a high-resolution photo. You could also celebrate the day by reading American Lineman, visiting the International Lineman's Museum, taking steps to become a lineworker, and watching a film such as Slim, Manpower, and Life on the Line.

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