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International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

(IBEW)

900 Seventh Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

Membership

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675,000 members

 

 

Affiliations

icon_affiliationsAmerican Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity

AFL-CIO

 

 

Structure

icon_structureThe International Convention is the highest governing body of the IBEW. It elects all International Officers and determines the basic law of the IBEW by its votes on proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments. It is also the final authority on appeals.

The International Executive Council (IEC) consists of nine elected members. The Chairman is elected at large, and the other members are elected from each of the eight IEC districts. The IEC meets quarterly to deal with its judicial, pension fund, and other responsibilities. The IEC is the final authority on applications for and the granting of pensions, disability benefits, and vested rights of members. The IEC is also responsible for the following:

  • Acting on appeals from the decisions of the International President and on charges filed against pensioned members
  • Trying any member of a local union charged with violation of IBEW laws or the obligation of membership
  • Naming a successor to the office of International President in case a vacancy occurs
  • Approving or recommending constitutional amendments for submission by referendum to local unions

 

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Key Officers

ibew_edwinhillEdwin D. Hill, International President, Elected 2001

In January 29, 2001, Edwin D. Hill was appointed International President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, and later elected President at the IBEW’s 36th International Convention, held in San Francisco, California, in September 2001. He was re-elected at the 37th International Convention held in Cleveland, Ohio, in September of 2006.  Mr. Hill assumed this position after serving the IBEW for over three and one half years as both International Secretary and International Secretary-Treasurer.  President Hill also serves as a member of the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

While at Local Union 712, Ed was active on various committees. He was appointed and served as the first Registrar in 1961, President and co-founder of the Credit Union, founder of the Scholarship Fund, served as Vice President and President from 1964 – 1970, and from 1970 to 1982, served as the Business Manager.  Ed served as Vice President and COPE Chairman for the Beaver County Central Labor Council from 1972 to 1977, and held posts on the Beaver County Building Trades Council from 1970 to 1978, serving as Treasurer, Vice President and COPE Chairman.  He has also held positions on the Executive Committee and the Executive Council of the Pennsylvania State AFL-CIO from 1976 until 1997.

 

ibew_salvatorechiliaSalvatore J. Chilia, International Secretary-Treasurer, Elected 2011

International President Edwin D. Hill appointed Salvatore J. Chilia International Secretary-Treasurer, effective May 1, 2011. A former business manager of Cleveland, Ohio, Local 38 and Third District IEC member, Chilia has served as Fourth District International Vice President since replacing Paul Witte in 2007.

Initiated into Local 38 in 1967, Chilia graduated from his inside wireman apprenticeship in 1971, working for various electrical contractors until 1989. He was elected to his local’s examining board in 1977 and its executive board in 1980.

After serving as chairman of all of his local’s pension and benefit funds, Chilia was elected business manager in 1997. In 2001, he was elected to serve on the International Executive Council.

Chilia instituted his local union’s 401(k) plan and full retirement at age 55. He is a leader in negotiating project labor agreements, including those covering construction of the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians stadiums and the Cleveland Clinic.

Sustainability Profile

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The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers appreciates the job opportunities that come with the increase of green technology and renewable energy options. For example, Local 569 Business Manager Allen Shur is convinced that  “without all the solar work,  [the unemployment rate for IBEW workers] would be twice as a high.” The IBEW Website features a “working green section” to help members understand the importance of green jobs and to help them launch their green careers. In addition to solar energy, the union supports wind energy and geothermal energy but also adheres to jobs in the nuclear and clean coal sectors.

Job opportunities are not the only benefit the IBEW sees in renewable energy projects.  The union has enjoyed the membership boost it has received from multiple new green contracts.  The primary IBEW publication, The Electrical Worker, explains, “the growth of solar power has also translated into increased opportunities for top-down organizing, as new photovoltaic startups seek out sources of skilled electricians.” Furthermore, Shur has noticed that “a lot of the owners of… new solar operations don’t have the same kind of anti-union attitude that [the IBEW] sometimes encounters with other nonunion contractors.”

The recent birth of a new Hawaii local certainly provides proof of this phenomenon. In May 2012, twenty workers at the Puna Geothermal Venture voted for representation by Honolulu Local 1260. The plant’s workers drill wells deep into the ground to bring deposits of steam and hot water to the surface that can be used to generate electricity. The Puna plant currently fulfills a fifth of Hawaii Island’s energy needs, and an upcoming HI bill may lead to further future jobs.

Purportedly, the key to IBEW’s success in obtaining green jobs is its extensive network of very active joint apprenticeship programs. The union increasingly features “green skills” needed by solar, wind, and other alternative technologies. For example, this September, IBEW Local 158 in Green Bay, Wisconsin trained workers to safely and correctly install solar energy projects. The union also sponsors shorter training programs in “green job skills.”

Although IBEW features many of its new contracts as “green,” not all are sustainable or renewable.  In an article entitle “IBEW at Fulcrum of Nuclear revival,” the union excitedly reports, “President Barack Obama chose Local 26’s apprenticeship training center outside of Washington, D.C., to deliver the exciting news on Feb. 16 [2010] that he was approving billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first to be built in the U.S. in three decades.” While this grant seemingly gives IBEW workers great publicity and employment, environmentalists have found numerous flaws with nuclear energy, and the benefits are likely to be short term (see LNS note below).  IBEW notes the issues surrounding nuclear waste but does not address other dangers head on.

Like the UAW, the environmental progressiveness of IBEW is stunted by its ardent support of coal. The IBEW belongs to an industry group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity— “pro-coal and proud of it.”

In reaction to a 2009 Climate Change Bill, President Hill claimed that “renewable energy alone is not enough; we must include coal, using carbon capture and storage technologies now in development, and expand nuclear energy generation as a part of the U.S. energy mix.” Controversially, he declared, “if we do not use all the energy resources and technology available to us, Americans will either still be contributing to global climate change by 2020 or forced to accept a diminished energy-producing capacity, with the accompanying economic disruption and job losses that will make the current recession look tame.”

Additionally, IBEW language made it into the 2009 bill. The bill, drafted jointly in 2007 by the IBEW and AEP, seeks “to provide incentives for the country’s trading partners to reduce their CO2 emissions by requiring them to adopt their own cap and trade program or to purchase carbon credits to sell their products in the United States.” While this gesture appears green friendly, carbon credit programs have been criticized for their failure to actually reduce carbon emissions levels.

An LNS Note:

The IBEW and other labor unions often frame nuclear energy as “carbon free” and, therefore, clean.  However, clean energy is not enough. Our earth needs clean, safe, and renewable energy. Nuclear energy is highly dangerous in addition to being wildly expensive and uninsured.  Many of our nuclear plants are on extended licensing and should have been shut down years ago. Friends of the Earth’s fact check on nuclear energy revealed “we don’t need more nuclear reactors, nuclear energy is expensive, nuclear takes cash from better alternatives, nuclear energy is dirty, and no nuclear power plant can be 100% safe.”

Green Employment Prospects

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The IBEW sees its future in green technologies because it represents workers in job classifications related to the production and distribution of electricity.  The IBEW is a major promoter of solar, wind, and geothermal technologies. It actively sponsors and supports projects around the country including big solar projects in Southern California and a major wind farm off Cape Cod.  Consequently, solar seems to be the greatest green job provider of the aforementioned green tech jobs.

At California’s Ivanpah Dry Lake in the Mojave near the Nevada border, members of San Bernardino Local 477 are building a solar energy system for BrightSource Energy under a project labor agreement that will provide 4 million man-hours of work to the building trades.

Geothermal jobs are also out there. However, few are permanent; therefore, it is difficult to convince IBEW to move away from nuclear energy jobs and towards geothermal jobs. For example, Neal Hot Springs is expected to create between 15 and 20 permanent jobs in Malheur County and an additional five jobs at U.S. Geothermal in Boise. The project has been credited with supporting 300 to 400 temporary jobs during construction, both among construction contractors and equipment suppliers and vendors.  More permanent jobs will be needed to stave off the rush to less sustainable energy during times of unemployment.

Additional Comments and Analysis

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It is important to note that many of the IBEW’s green job contracts are grouped around certain geographic areas such as the West Coast. California seems to be the biggest supplier. Therefore, not all members will have access to these green jobs in the short term unless policies change to mandate clean and safe energy.

The IBEW is an important ally in the fight for alternative energy and green jobs and it is an important obstacle in the fight to reduce fossil fuel fired power plants. There is no need to convince the IBEW that green jobs are good jobs and offer excellent employment opportunities for their members. They are way ahead on that count. The issue surrounds their equal love for coal and nuclear energy. Can we propose alternatives that will employ IBEW members?

 

Appendixes

Appendix 1: International Vice Presidents

  • First District: 
International Vice-President
 Phillip  Flemming
    1450 Meyerside Drive Suite 300
    Mississauga, ON L5T 2N5
    (905) 564-5441
    Fax: (905) 564-8114
    Email | Web site
    Dominion of Canada
  • Third District 
International Vice-President
 Donald C. Siegel
    500 Cherrington Parkway Suite 325
    Coraopolis, PA 15108
    (412) 269-4963
    Fax: (412) 269-4964
    Email | Web site
    Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
  • Fourth District
 International Vice-President
 Kenneth W. Cooper Corporate Plaza 1, Suite 150
    6450 Rocksidewoods Blvd.,
    S.
Independence, OH 44131
    (216) 328-0004
    Fax: (216) 328-0444
    Email | Web site
    Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia

 

Appendix 2: International Executive Board

 

 

Appendix 3: Labor to Help determine Policy on Nuclear Waste

Labor to Help Determine Policy on Nuclear Waste

February 4, 2010

The United States’ spent nuclear fuel will no longer be designated for a cask deep inside a controversial mountain in Nevada. Facing decades-long united opposition in the state, Yucca Mountain will not be the receptacle for the nation’s nuclear waste, President Obama has decided.

But what to do with the material quickly filling temporary storage spaces in the country’s nuclear plants is a looming question, affecting the viability of current and future nuclear facilities.

That question will be debated by a new 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. Among the presidential appointees [was] Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, President Mark Ayers(now deceased), who [was] also a member of Peoria, Ill., Local 34. He said:

America’s building trades unions have considerable knowledge and expertise to offer when it comes to making sure that nuclear energy provides clean, safe, affordable and reliable power to American businesses and consumers.

The commission is part of a comprehensive review by the Energy Department of policies for managing the issues associated with spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. It will provide advice and make recommendations on issues, including storage, processing and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. The body is co-chaired by Lee Hamilton, former member of Congress, and Brent Scowcroft, who was national security advisor to President George H.W. Bush.

Its members will provide an interim report within 18 months and a final report in two years.

The IBEW and a growing number of people envision a larger role for nuclear energy as a non-carbon form of electricity generation. IBEW Utility Department Director Jim Hunter said with the Yucca Mountain project dead, the federal government has an obligation to find an alternative.

Hunter said:

One of the obstacles to new plants is what happens to waste. There are a lot of options for handling it. But if we don’t find a solution to the waste issue, it’s going to impede us from building new plants.

 

 

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