Electrical Workers Union Goes To War With Itself, As Leadership realises They've Priced Themselves Out Of Competitiveness


When companies realise they can’t afford premium, highly-trained, unionized workers, what do they do?

Well, they might go overseas, or at least look for employees in the South, where unions have less power.

So what can unions do to address this? Well, they can introduce their own cheap labour, which is exactly what the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is cooking up.

Chicago Union News explains:

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers plans to add a new classification of workers who will not be required to complete the union’s standard training program and, as a result, will receive less pay than many card-holding electricians.

The union’s proposal, a directive from the international that will affect locals across the country, is not sitting well with many of Chicago’s IBEW Local 134 members, who have said it will “flood the market with unqualified workers.”

Typically, union electricians must finish a five-year apprenticeship program -– 8,000 hours of classroom and on-the-job training –- before they are certified as journeymen.

The extensive training is what usually separates union tradesmen from nonunion. The new grade of workers, who are called construction wiremen or construction electricians, will fall in between apprentices and journeymen in experience.

Not surprisingly, the established electrical workers are appalled:

Many journeymen are afraid the cheaper workers will threaten their jobs, especially with the local facing high unemployment.

“If you start bringing in workers for 40 per cent of what journeymen make, those journeymen are never going back to work,” said a Local 134 member who asked to remain anonymous. “If the contractors can get it done for less money, that’s what they are going to do.”


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