The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) was founded in 1891 to change the harsh working conditions experienced by America’s first electrical wiremen and linemen. It was the first union established specifically for electricians. IBEW currently has 1,100 local unions throughout the United States and Canada representing more than 750,000 member electricians. IBEW is the largest electrical union in the world.
IBEW’s original purpose was to give electrical workers a voice in their industry through bargaining representation. Organizers worked toward setting employment standards in training, safety and ensuring wage/hour codes. Today, the union continues to achieve these goals on several fronts by implementing extensive training programs, working with contractors to resolve labor agreements, and informing its members of electrical industry developments.
Locally, IBEW Local 48 was organized in 1913 to serve the needs of the region’s growing electrical industry. It was created through the merger of Local 317 (chartered in 1904) and Local 480 (chartered in 1912). Initially, electricians linked businesses and private homes with electricity from the Willamette Falls AC generation plant, the first long-distance power distribution facility in the country. Today, the 4,500 IBEW electricians of Local 48 work on highly complex and diverse projects. These include the Rose Garden Arena, West Side MAX Light Rail stations, Portland International Airport, and intricate high-tech projects like the specialty computer installation for Portland’s Brewery Blocks and the construction of computer chip manufacturing facilities. IBEW Local 48 recently signed contracts with Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam to rewind their generators. In addition, IBEW Local 48 members do large panel fabrication at Siemen’s Energy & Automation and the GE Service Shop.
To provide the technical expertise needed for today’s complex electrical work, IBEW Local 48, through its 5-year apprenticeship program, conducts the most comprehensive electrical education and safety training available. The Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) was formed by the partnership between IBEW and the National
Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to train and certify the most qualified electricians in the industry.
IBEW Local 48 partners with the Oregon-Columbia chapter of NECA to fund and manage the NECA/IBEW Apprenticeship Programs and the state-of-the-art Electrical Training Center, safety programs, the “Drug-Free Workplace Program,” and healthcare and pension programs. IBEW locals across the country emulate this region’s highly successful partnership.
Local 48 is recognized each year by national executives for its excellence in productivity and management relations. From safe wiring for private family homes to large-scale high-tech projects, their electricians provide the highest quality of workmanship in the most cost effective and safe manner possible. Portland’s IBEW Local 48 electricians set the standard for the electrical industry.