Get The Facts

IBEW Facts

There is a lot of misinformation out there. Below are some common misconceptions about our Union.

Many workers are fearful that they will become laid off or out of work if they join the IBEW.  When you join the IBEW, you not only have the ability to work out of your own local union, but you can travel and work out of any local union in the country.   During slow times, many members choose to travel and work out of a different local union.  In addition, for those that are willing to help non-union electricians organize, IBEW members have the ability to work for non-union contractors and educate both the contractor and their employees on the benefits of becoming union.  The fact is IBEW represented electricians are the only ones that have the ability to work Union or non-Union.

There are a lot of myths about seniority. The IBEW represents thousands of workers in utilities, manufacturing, and municipalities, and contracts in those industries typically have seniority protections. But those types of contracts don’t work in construction. The vast majority of IBEW construction agreements do not have seniority language. We recognize that our employers need who they need, when they need them, Our contracts are also negotiated to reflect the wishes of the membership. A local Union organizer can answer any of your specific questions about seniority.

Your Union membership is your resume. Whether it be for opportunity, adventure, or just for a change in scenery. Our members have the ability to travel and work across the country. When they do, the member can choose to have the employer-paid retirement contributions sent to the member’s home local. And the member can also choose to have a portion of their employer-paid health care contribution sent back to their home local. This allows our members the freedom to travel where they choose and know that they will have continuity in their healthcare coverage and build their retirement.

The IBEW strives for the highest wages for workers in the electrical industry. Part of commanding those wages is our ability to provide a skilled and vetted workforce. If you as a worker can prove experience in multiple facets of our field, hold licensing, have ran work, and/or can prove your skill in other ways - You will likely qualify for membership without having to test. If that isn’t the case, we will work with you to schedule a written and/or hands on standardized test. If there is a part of the test that isn’t passed - we offer specific classes to help. Meet with an Organizer today - you’ve got nothing to lose.

Commonly referred to as the “Books”- The IBEW refers qualified electricians to our signatory contractors. A union dispatcher informs individuals that are on our “Books” of the job calls available. IBEW job referral or “Books” are just fancy way of saying “line”. If you want a job with an IBEW Contractor you simply get in line with other qualified electricians and have access to the most challenging and exciting Electrical work in the country.

Ensuring The safety of our members has been one of the principle objectives of the IBEW since it’s founding, when on-the-job accidents claimed the lives of one out of every two electrical workers. We continue our commitment to safety through our International Offices’ Safety Department and Local Union safety and health committees.

Our Local Unions work to ensure that our members are safe, have basics like cold water and PPE, and that the latest COVID-19 safety protocols and practices are in place on the job.

Many non-Union workers don’t want to worry about going on strike. Although rare, strikes have happened in the past. For such to happen - the members must vote on and make the decision to go on strike. This is an extreme measure that is only done when members feel that an Employer is being completely unreasonable. Many steps must be taken before the decision to go on strike is even entertained. Many IBEW Locals have moved away from using strikes as a means to get fair contracts. In most cases IBEW Construction Local Unions file for binding arbitration with the Council of Industrial Relations (CIR). CIR is a a system where if the employer and union cannot agree on a contract, instead of going on strike to secure a fair contract, the union can go to binding arbitration before a panel of union and management representatives, who will determine the contract.

The IBEW has many Union contractors and we are adding to them every year! As they continue to grow, so do we. We want our Union contractors to be successful, because their success ensures our members’ success. Through collective bargaining, IBEW members have a more transparent relationship with their employers and we work to ensure that contractors’ wealth and success is shared with the workers.

Picket lines are established against an employer -not employees. You may have seen or even been on a job that had a picket line.  Union’s don’t picket employers that take care of their workers, pay a fair wage, and provide good healthcare. Unions picket bad players. If you see a picket line, it is because the employer has paid its workers less than the area standard.

You may have seen an inflatable rat or heard the term and we admit that it is not the most charming method of outreach. But there is nothing charming about an employer that takes advantage of its workforce. Bad employers are the rats we describe. The term “Rat” has never been meant to describe a worker and we realize that Union or not - you’re just working to survive. A rat is an employer who exploits this --a contractor that takes advantage of its employees.

820,000 Members and Growing!