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Chapter 1

1900 to 1920 - Philadelphia Electrical Workers Organize a Local Union In the late 1880’s the Knights of Labor, a national union dedicated to organize all producers into one big union, established a local union in Philadelphia of electrical workers. Like so many other early efforts to organize workers, the local union found that it could not withstand widespread anti-union sentiments, which existed at that time, and it eventually failed. Before the turn of the century several other local unions of electrical workers were organized in Philadelphia but they also experienced limited success. In 1899, however, under the leadership of Mortimer B. Gleeson, Louis F. Spence and fifteen other electrical workers, a local union was established which would stand the test of time. In that year Electrical Workers Local Union No. 1 was organized and on January 5, 1900, the local was admitted to the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (NBEW) as Local Union 98. The first Local 98 union hall was located at the Odd Fellows Temple at Broad and Cherry Streets. The union office remained at this location for over twenty years. When Local 98 was first organized ten hours constituted a day’s work and wages for journeymen ranged from $.20 to $.25 an hour while helpers were receiving $.10 to $.15 an hour. The local initially focused on a struggle to decrease the hours of work and to increase the rates of pay. In 1902 Local 98 was able to establish an eight hour day, a rate of $.35 an hour for journeymen and an increase for helpers. Work was not always readily available for Local 98 members during these early years. Job opportunities did begin to increase, however, in 1916 when work became available for Local 98 members 


at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as the country began to prepare for World War I. Throughout these formative years the union was intent upon establishing the union as the sole representative for electrical workers at the bargaining table and on the job, and making workers aware of their rights as union members. The local established a steward system and attempted to get contractors to recognize stewards as the Union representatives on jobsites. For some Local 98 members these early attempts at organizing represented hardships and sacrifices. “My first job was in 1919 at the Budd Plant on Hunting Park Avenue. My brother was running the job and he put me to work. There were eight or ten other electricians working on the job. Budd was a notoriously anti-union company at the time and this was the first time they allowed union people to do work for them. The Local 98 steward on the job wore a large pin which had STEWARD printed on it. The company wanted to know what the steward did on the job and they were told that he handled all of the union business on the jobsite. The company said that they wanted to fire the steward because he was spending too much time on union business and that he wasn’t working enough. Local 98 said that they could not fire him since he represented the union. Within a week of this dispute they fired all of the Local 98 members on the job. Since the job was almost completed they knew that they didn’t need us anymore so they fired us. That was my introduction to the union.” While Local 98 was struggling to organize electrical workers and to establish the union, electrical contractors were setting up businesses in Philadelphia. In many cases these contractors were immigrants who came to this country after gaining experience in the electrical industry in Europe. Many of these immigrants found work at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. “My brother worked as an electrician at the Navy Yard during World War I. In 1918 he became an electrical contractor. He was an electrical engineer. We were born in Poland and came to the


United States in 1910. I came into the business in 1920 after I graduated from public school. We had a small office and we had a few men working for us. I took care of the bookkeeping and made calls to get contracts. We always did a good job and gradually we established a good reputation in the industry.” (This firm, which is still in business, is the second oldest and one of the largest electrical contractors in Philadelphia. In 1992 the firm employed two hundred Local 98 journeymen and apprentices. One of the original founders of the business still comes to work every day.) For the first twenty years of its existence Local 98 increasingly established itself as an organization which could effectively represent electrical workers. Throughout this period the local attempted to increase wages and worked with other unions in the Delaware Valley in the struggle for the eight-hour day. During the formative years of Local 98, the union kept its records in the form of a Journal which included accounts of local union meetings. The entries which appear on page 5, for March and April 1901, indicate that the union held its meetings at the Odd Fellows Temple at Broad and Cherry Streets. For many years Local 98 members were required to go to the union hall each month to pay their union dues and fines and assessments. On page 4 is the membership card of Paul Springer for 1909. Brother Springer purchased a union “stamp” which he placed in his book to show that he was a paid up member. The Financial Secretary posted his record of assessments and fines, which were 25 cents each, by hand. On page 5 is a copy of a Local 98 Journal entry from April 1901 indicating that the union was incorporated in Pennsylvania. On page 6 are minutes from a union meeting held on March 5, 1918. !


A Local 98 membership card from 1909.

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Minutes from Local 98 Journal of March and April 1901.

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Minutes from a regular meeting of Local 98 in 1918.

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Chapter 2

The 1920’s - Local 98 Begins to Expand and Grow In the early 1920’s there was a serious depression in Philadelphia. The work that was available for electrical workers was on building projects which became Philadelphia landmarks, like the Fidelity Trust Building on Broad Street, Sears and Roebuck on Roosevelt Boulevard and service work in plants including Midvale Steel, Apex Hosiery and Quaker Lace Company. In addition to the depression, unionized electrical workers in Philadelphia also had difficulty finding work during the early 1920’s because of a union busting drive by union contractors known as the “American Plan”. American Plan employers launched an “open shop” campaign, which required prospective workers to sign an agreement, which stated that they would not join a union, or attempt to organize their fellow workers. Open shops became closed non-union shops, where union members were either fired or denied employment. In effect, union electrical workers were locked out of work. During the period that the American Plan was in effect, many Local 98 members were running jobs on their own and doing house wiring work since they were unable to get union work because of the lockout. In 1926, skilled craftsmen in many large cities went on strike against the American Plan and their efforts led to the end of the open shop campaign. Despite these difficulties the local continued to grow and in 1922 the union decided to move its headquarters from Broad and Cherry Streets to 1807 Spring Garden Street. In order to protect the membership from the possibility of being sued, a separate organization, the Electric Mechanics Association (EMA), was %


chartered, as a corporation to purchase a property for the union. The EMA assessed each member of the local a small amount of money and purchased the property, which it then leased to the union. (The EMA still exists, and is presently the owner of the property at 1719 Spring Garden Street, which it leases to the union and the Apprenticeship Training Program.) In the 1920’s there was no apprentice training program in Philadelphia. Apprentices learned the trade on the job. The only requirement for admittance to the union was that an applicant had to be 18 years of age. During this period it was customary in the electrical construction industry for an apprentice to spend four years gaining a working knowledge of the trade. Those apprentices who were interested in learning some theory to accompany the practical knowledge they were learning on the job, attended a trade school at night or took a correspondence course. Some Local 98 apprentices attended a vocational school, located next to the Academy of Music on Locust Street, to study sheet metal work, since no one taught electricity at the time. Throughout the 1920’s there was often more work for apprentices than for journeymen, since contractors preferred to hire apprentices and pay them lower wages. The local was willing to maintain a large pool of apprentices since they did not want to increase the number of journeymen at that time because they would be forced to compete for jobs. Because of these circumstances apprentices often had to wait for years to get a ticket from the local. There was also a “helper” classification of workers in the local in the 1920’s. Helpers were allowed to work but they were never eligible for membership in Local 98. They were, in effect, given a temporary work permit by the union, but were never able to attain full status in the local. Despite the large number of apprentices and helpers in the union in these early years, it was relatively easy for an experienced electrician to become a member of the local. “I arrived in the United States in July 1923, the day President Harding died. I was 21 years old. I had been an electrician in Scotland and when I came here I tried to become a member of the &


IBEW local in Washington, D.C. but they were not taking members at the time. I came to Philadelphia and went to a local electrical contractor looking for a job. One of his employees was a member of the Executive Board of Local 98 and he said that I should come to the local meeting on Thursday night and they would take me in the local. In those days all you had to do to become a member was pay an initiation fee of $100. There was no apprentice training program at that time.” In 1924 job opportunities increased for Local 98 members when work began on the Sesquicentennial celebration, which was held in 1926 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the United States. Local 98 members laid all of the underground cables, which supplied the electricity to the Sesquicentennial buildings located in South Philadelphia at Broad and Pattison Avenue. Local 98 members also got jobs wiring homes throughout Philadelphia, which had been using gaslight. There was no wiring in most neighborhoods in the city in the 1920’s and the Philadelphia Electric Company began to wire thousands of homes throughout the city. It could cost as much as $100 to put electricity into a house at that time. Local 98 members got most of this work. During this period Local 98 members also worked on the large theaters, hotels, department stores and public projects that were being built including the Erlanger and the Mastbaum theaters, the Benjamin Franklin Hotel, Strawbridge and Clothier and the Suburban Station Building. In the mid-1920’s Local 98 launched an intensive organizing campaign designed to educate electrical workers about unionism and to increase the number of union shops in the city. Despite serious opposition from contractors the campaign was a success and the local’s jurisdiction extended throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia, Chester, Camden, Norristown and Trenton.

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“In January 1927 we were coming to the end of our organizing campaign and we felt that we were successful since we doubled our membership. We had our men placed in every shop and industrial plant in Philadelphia. Each and every one of these men was educating the non-union men in these shops in the principles and aims of organized labor. We felt that in a reasonable length of time Philadelphia would be a closed shop town for our craft.” “Non-union contractors who had been opposed to organized labor for years, were now beginning to negotiate with our representatives. We felt certain that by spring of 1927, Local Union 98 would be composed of all the electrical workers in the city.” “Our new members were becoming enthusiastic over the organization and were bringing in new candidates every week. Men who thought they never needed a union were beginning to realize the situation here and began inquiring about membership. With this condition existing and spreading we felt certain that the work of the organizing committee was not in vain, and every member of our local union has profited by the campaign, both morally and financially.” Due to this intensive organizing campaign work became available for Local 98 members throughout the Delaware Valley. Although members often had to travel long distances to get to their jobs, they welcomed the opportunity to work in Local 98’s jurisdiction. “In 1925 I got a job with Pangborne Company in Burlington, New Jersey. That was in Local 98’s jurisdiction in those days but it was a long way to travel. I lived in Germantown at the time and I would take a trolley car to Market Street and a second trolley to the Tacony Ferry, which would take me to Palmyra, New Jersey. When I got there I would take another trolley to the job.” Walter Pangbonre was one of the largest electrical contractors in Philadelphia in the 1920’s. Pangborne was successful, in part, because his uncle, United States Senator Vare, helped him secure electrical 


contracts for public schools, JFK Stadium, the subway, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and many of the buildings erected for the Sesquicentennial. Pangborne also got a good deal of the work generated by the Works Project Administration (WPA) established by the federal government in the 1930’s to provide jobs for thousands of workers who were unemployed during the depression. The decade of the 1920’s ended on an ominous note for electrical workers in Philadelphia, and for workers all across the country, when, in 1929 the stock market crashed. Businesses closed their doors and thousands of workers found that there were few employment opportunities. The Local 98 members who lost their jobs had little to fall back on since benefit programs like unemployment compensation and pensions did not exist. “In the 1920’s journeymen would work until they were 70 or 80 years old because they couldn’t afford to retire. When a member died the union would take up a collection, raffle off his tools, and give the widow the money.”

Local 98 By-Laws adopted on September 8, 1919.




The cover of the National Electrical Code book published in 1928.




Chapter 3

The 1930’s - The Depression Brings Hard Times for Local 98 Members The 1930’s brought hard times for the members of Local 98. Jobs were scarce and many members lost their tickets because they were unable to pay union dues. The local lost so many members it had difficulty maintaining the operations of the union. By 1936 union membership fell from a high of 1,300 members to 800 members. Over 500 members of the local lost their tickets because there were no jobs. Many Local 98 members lost their homes and were forced to live with relatives or friends in order to survive. Others received refuge and help from the union and from members who were lucky enough to have work. “There was a period during the 1930’s when about a dozen Local 98 members were living on the third floor of the union hall at 1807 Spring Garden Streets. They were actually living there. They had cots which they slept on and members who were working would take them across the street to Lintons to buy them breakfast or lunch.” During the depression work was so scarce that the union rotated jobs. When the PSFS building was erected at 12th and Market Streets, each Local 98 member was required to take off one day a week so that the work could be shared among members of the union. Unemployed members substituted in their place until they had worked for 32 hours. The system provided work opportunities for unemployed members who would not have otherwise been able to survive. At other times members would get eight days of work every three months. Members would work eight consecutive workdays and then go on the out of work list for the rest of the three-month period.

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The local also implemented a special assessment, which was used to support the operation of the local. Journeymen paid 10% of their wages for the first 32 hours and 30% if they worked more than 32 hours. Despite these efforts to share the work that was available, many members were unemployed for extended periods of time in the early 1930’s. In fact, employment opportunities did not increase markedly for Local 98 members until the government began to support building programs in the late 1930’s. “There was a time during the depression that I didn’t work for one entire year. When my name finally came up off the list I got a job that lasted for three weeks. Those times were really bad, but somehow or other you survived. In 1936 things began to pick up because of the Works Projects Administration, or WPA as we called it. We worked four days a week on government projects like public schools and the courthouse at 9th and Market Streets. I worked on those types of jobs for one entire year and when the job was finished I actually had money in the bank.” In spite of the dire economic conditions which existed Local 98 was able to establish an apprenticeship training program with the assistance of the School District of Philadelphia. On March 1, 1930 the local union launched a training program for apprentices with the cooperation of the Division of School Extension of the School District of Philadelphia. The school district furnished the school, the supplies and equipment and the union provided the students. Over 300 apprentices attended classes, which were held at Gratz High School on Hunting Park Avenue. Apprentices attended classes on Saturday mornings from 8:00 am to 12:00. Each student was required to deposit a $1.00 registration fee, which was returned if the apprentice attended 75% of the classes, and a $2.00 laboratory fee. In October 1930 classes were also offered for journeymen on Monday and Wednesday evenings and on Saturday mornings. Classes were offered in English, Mathematics, Electrical Drawing, Electrical Wiring, Electrical Theory, Electrical Laboratory and Metal and Machine Shop Practice. "


In the 1930’s there was no entrance examination or initiation fee for apprentices, nor was there an established period of time for the program. An aspiring apprentice was taken before the Local Union Executive Board and accepted as an apprentice. Apprentices often worked for nine or ten years before they became journeymen because there was not enough work to go around. However, in those early days it was often an advantage to be an apprentice since contractors were willing to hire less qualified men because their wages were lower. There was also a period of time during the 1930’s when members of the union had to put in an extra year of training as a junior mechanic before they could become a journeyman. “During the depression I was an apprentice. I spent one third of my apprenticeship sitting on the steps in front of the union hall because there was not work at that time. I remember clearly that I would work for a few weeks and then would wait for weeks before I got another job. Things were really bad. There were times I felt that I would never finish my training program and be able to earn a living.” Conditions became so bad that in 1932 Local 98 went bankrupt when the bank in which the union had deposited its funds closed its doors. As a result, the International Union placed the union in receivership. An international vice-president was sent to Philadelphia to run the local until it got back on its feet and became financially solvent once again. Finally, in the late 1930’s the economy began to improve and job opportunities for Local 98 members and apprentices became available. “When I came into Local 98 in 1939 the country was just coming out the depression. I can remember that it was the spring of the year, probably in February. I was a first year apprentice at the time, and I was having trouble getting work. One day I met Luke Kerney at the union hall and he said that we should go over to Campbell Soup to look for a job because he knew the foreman over there and they were beginning to hire men for the tomato season. We went #


over and we got hired. The work was out of the IBEW Camden Local 439, which had just been organized. The pay was $.40 an hour.” As the economy began to improve and Local 98 and the IBEW became more solvent the union implemented the first basic benefit programs for members. In 1939 the union provided sick benefits of $12 a week for thirteen weeks, $1000 of life insurance and the International Union had a pension policy that gave retirees $50 a month. For Local 98 and its members the 1930’s was a decade characterized by a constant struggle to remain at work and viable. Although the membership of the local decreased drastically the union continued to represent its members and to protect and extend its jurisdiction. For example, by the late 1930’s Line Local 21 had lost most of its members and Local 98 was representing the members of the local union in all matters. Consequently, Local 98 asked the International Union for the jurisdiction for those line workers left in the Local 21. In February 1939, Local 98 was awarded the jurisdiction of Line Local 21. There were eight members left in the local at the time. Local 21 ceased to exist and each of the surviving eight members received an “A” card in Local 98. For many members of Local 21 this transfer of jurisdiction represented an end to a relationship, which they had initially established with the union when they first entered the industry. “I got my first job in the industry on June 8, 1932 with Philadelphia Line Local 21. At the time there were thirteen paid up members in the local. Most of the members were quite old. The wage scale was $.35 an hour for apprentices and $.87 an hour for journeymen. There was no training program in Local 21 at the time. We worked as helpers with a journeyman and learned as we went along.” In 1939 Local 98 worked cooperatively with the newly organized Philadelphia Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors $


Association (NECA) to establish a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. One of the Committees first accomplishments was an agreement with the School District of Philadelphia to move the apprentice training program to Bok Vocational School where classes were held for apprentices on Saturday mornings. Since its founding in 1939, the Penn-Del-Jersey NECA Chapter has worked cooperatively with Local 98 and other IBEW locals to develop numerous programs, which met the needs of both contractors and union members. Both organizations realized that an alliance was needed to develop programs since neither Local 98 nor NECA could implement them independently. The NECA Local 98 partnership made it possible to create programs that were larger than either organization. On September 4, 1930 Local 98 established an Apprentice Training Program at Gratz High School. The local Apprentice Committee distributed the rules shown below, governing attendance for apprentices attending these classes, to all apprentices. On page 18 there is a picture from the February 1931 issue of The Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators, which contained a story of the Local 98 apprenticeship training program.

Rules governing attendance at the Local 98 Apprentice Program from 1931.

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The Local 98 Apprenticeship Training Program in 1931.

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Chapter 4

The 1940’s - Working for the War Effort and During the Post War Boom As we entered the 1940’s, the economy remained depressed for Local 98 members. Jobs were scarce for journeymen and apprentices during this pre-World War II period, and when work was available, contractors often hired an apprentice rather than a journeyman so that they could keep their costs down. “I was sitting on the bench one afternoon in early 1940 in front of the union hall when a fellow member came walking down the street with tears in his eyes. H asked me what year apprentice I was and I told him that I was in my second year. He told me that he had just been laid off. He said that I should go to the union hall with him because I might be able to get that job that he had lost since the company only wanted to pay a second year apprentice. We went to the Business Agent and told him the situation and I got the job.” During the early 1940’s the few jobs that were available were with the WPA or at the Navy Yard or the Frankfort Arsenal where ships and war munitions were being built and supplied to England and France, which were already at war with Germany. Soon after the United States entered World War II, on December 7, 1941, many Local 98 members either joined the armed services or were drafted. However some Local 98 members who might have been drafted received special classifications and were exempted from military service because they had strategic jobs. A number of local union members who did serve were killed in combat during the war. “I went to work out of Local 98 in May 1942. I worked for a year and went into the Navy in May 1943. The local would not '


obligate me until I came out of the service. I spent three years in the Navy and came back to the local.” “James Wenrich was the first Local 98 member killed in World War II. He was in the naval reserve before the war and got called up for active duty just after Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to a destroyer escorting convoys and his ship was sunk very early in the war. It must have been early in 1942.” After the war began, work opportunities for Local 98 members increased dramatically. Thousands of electricians went to work at the Navy Yard, the Frankfort Arsenal and for other contractors and businesses involved in war production. Local 98 members built dry docks at the Navy Yard and rewired the buildings at the Frankfort Arsenal. There was very little work available in the private sector because of restrictions on building materials for non-war related building projects. “There was so much work during the war that Local 98 had trouble getting enough electricians to man some jobs. I remember working on a job at Westinghouse below the airport where there were four hundred electricians and only five of them had a ticket from Local 98. All of the others were non-union workers. The local gave them a temporary union card called a “white paper” which allowed them to work the job. They paid the local one dollar a day union dues. The steward on that job would walk through the job and on pay day and collect seven dollars from all of the temporary members because we were working seven day weeks at the time. The leadership of the local decided that we should not keep the money and we began to contribute the funds to charitable organizations like the Red Cross and the Light House.” The rate of pay at the Navy yard in 1942 was $1.25 an hour. Some Local 98 members refused to work there because the rate of pay in other facilities was $1.37 an hour. In fact, so many electricians were needed to work at the Navy Yard at the time that contractors had to advertise in communities throughout Northern Pennsylvania 


for workers. These men got “work permits� from Local 98 but were never given union cards. The apprentice training program was suspended from 1942 to 1945- because all public schools were closed on Saturdays during the war to conserve energy. During this period Howard Vloetgraven, an instructor in the apprentice training program, invited apprentices and helpers to his home where he taught electrical theory and lead splicing in his garage. He volunteered his services and got the materials, which he used in his classes from contractors. Some members of the union also attended Spring Garden Institute at night for work related training. During the war years Local 98 and NECA began to recognize the need to provide members with fringe benefits, which would protect workers and their families on and off the job. In 1942, Local 98 initiated a Health and Welfare Plan by securing Blue Cross coverage for the membership. The program was voluntary and members paid the premium, which was $13 a month. This plan continued until Local 98 and NECA reached an agreement in 1953 to form a trusteeship and to purchase coverage from Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. As the Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter of NECA grew stronger, contractors began to play a more active role in the development of benefit programs. In 1944, Local 98 and NECA established a vacation and unemployment relief fund for the electrical construction industry. Under the agreement employers and members would contribute $.10 an hour for each hour of employment into a fund and the money was used to pay wages during vacations and periods of unemployment. The International Union also recognized a need to improve benefit programs and the IBEW asked all electrical contractors to pay 1% of their gross payroll into an NEBF pension fund. As the war dragged on through 1943, 1944 and 1945, Local 98 members continued to work in war plants and at the Navy Yard while others were fighting for their country in Europe and the South Pacific. 


The local attempted to remain in touch with those members who were on active duty so that they would feel that they were not forgotten. “I vividly remember that in 1944 I was in the middle of the South Pacific on a ship and I got a letter from Local 98 saying that I was now a registered apprentice in the union. That letter really gave me a rise.” When the war ended in August 1945, Local 98 members began to return home. Many of these veterans wanted to return to work and to reestablish their membership in the union. The local attempted to make the transition of veterans back to civilian life as smooth as possible. “When I returned to civilian life after the war I went down to the local and said that I wanted to get into the union. The business agent on duty at the time said that I would have to wait six months. I told him that I had been waiting for six years. When he realized that I was a veteran I got a job immediately.” Local 98 veterans received financial support and money to pay for their tools through the G.I. Bill of Rights. In addition, apprentices’ salaries were supplemented in order to get their pay up to minimum rates. However, some members experienced real difficulties adjusting to conditions when they returned to civilian life. Many apprentices were 25 to 30 year old war veterans who had trouble taking orders from men who had not fought in the war. On job sites, men who had been officers during the war found it difficult to take orders from journeymen who were privates in the army. Throughout the late 1940’s business was booming and electricians were needed at the Philadelphia Electric Company, which was building three power stations, Budd Company, Cuneo Press, Westinghouse, Bendix, Scott Paper, Schmidts Brewery, Exide Battery, and a number of can companies in the city. In the public sector:


schools, public buildings, and churches were being built. Local 98 also organized a number of shops during this period including Lit Brothers. There was also work in industrial plants which were converting from producing parts for tanks, bombs, and jeeps, to making peace time products. “For the first thirty years of my career in Local 98, from 1945 to 1975, the only time that I lost time was when I wanted to lose time. There was no such thing as unemployment. I was in the first apprentice class that was held at Bok Vocational School in 1946. Most of the apprentices were veterans. The local ran the apprentice program at the time. We had one instructor from Local 98, Howard Vloetgraven, and there were two instructors from the public school system. This was the first class of apprentices that went to school one day a week and got paid for the day at school.” “Howard Vloetgraven was the pillar of the apprentice program in those days. He was the type of person who would take an apprentice who was having difficulty in class or in his personal life to his home to provide special tutoring or to talk to him about his problems. He was really wonderful.” “My first day on the job as an apprentice I was working at the Navy Yard on a dry dock. The journeyman on the job sent me to the storeroom to get a transite bender. They said that they didn’t have one and they sent me to the electric shop in the Navy Yard. They didn’t have it either. I went around to at least a half a dozen shops that day trying to get a transite bender. Finally, I went back to the job and told the journeyman that no one had a transite bender. That’s when they told me that there was no such thing as a transite bender. A couple days later I was out doing some temporary wiring with another journeyman and he told me to go to the tool room to get some pig tails. I told him to go and get his own pigtails. I wasn’t going to be hassled again. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the tool room and said to the clerk, `Give this apprentice a box of pig tails.’ He took a box of pig tails off the shelf and threw them across the counter at me. I learned a lesson that day.” !


The cover of a Local 98 ad book from1927.

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Chapter 5

The 1950’s - Local 98 and NECA Negotiate Benefit Plans In the early 1950’s there was serious disagreement among the membership of the local over the establishment of health and welfare and pension funds. The only fund that existed at the time was the Apprenticeship Training Fund. Some of the members wanted to continue to receive every dollar that they could get in their pay envelopes and were unwilling to have any money set aside to establish any other funds. In 1952 Local 98 instituted a Dues Protection Program designed to maintain union memberships for members who were out of work. Under this program employed journeymen paid part of their dues into a fund which was used to pay the dues of members who were unemployed. If the unemployed member adhered to all of the requirements of the program, his dues were paid indefinitely, until he got a job. This program is still in operation today, almost 50 years after it was established. “In the 1950’s I would characterize negotiations as being one sided because of the clause in our contract which required us to go to the Council on Industrial Relations of the International Union, where a final decision was made on our contract. I think that the contractors from NECA who were negotiating at the time would go just so far and then they would say that we should take our case to the Council. Local 98 never went to the Council. We always settled for as much as we could get without going beyond the local union. In a lot of those years the contract would expire at the end of August, but we didn’t get any increases until the beginning of January. We had to live with that situation because the contractors would threaten to go to the Council and we didn’t want to.” #


“In 1952 we started the health and welfare fund. There was no dues checkoff at the time. Before the fund was established we had to pay for our own Blue Cross and Blue Shield coverage. Individual members paid for their own coverage. When we started to cooperate with NECA contractors in 1956, $.05 was paid into a fund for health and welfare benefits.” In 1950 Local 98 held a banquet at the Broadwood Hotel to celebrate its 50th anniversary. A photograph from the banquet appears below.

Local 98’s 50th Anniversary party held at the Broadwood Hotel.

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Chapter 6

The 1960’s - Non-Union Contractors Post a Threat to Industry In the 1960’s Local 98 and NECA began to feel the effects of competition from an organization of non-union contractors called the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Although the ABC was composed of contractors from many industries, all of the officers in the Philadelphia ABC Chapter happened to be electrical contractors. Many of these non-union contractors began with small operations, which would bid on small public works jobs. These small contractors would get an electrical contract to wire a public school, since these jobs could be completed with a small crew of five or six men. They would then increase their workforce and begin to bid on larger jobs. By 1964, ABC contractors had 650 non-union electricians working for them. Local 98, with 900 members at the time, decided to hire a full time organizer and to launch a campaign to organize ABC shops. The effort proved to be successful and the local won the right to represent 250 electrical workers who had previously been non-union. By the end of the organizing campaign the local had over 1,200 members. With the continued growth of the membership the local found that the union office and hall which it had occupied since 1922 was becoming inadequate. The union decided that it must expand its facilities and in 1966 Local 98 demolished the brownstone at 1807 Spring Garden Street and built a new modern building on the site. During this same period developments were taking place regarding the apprenticeship training program which would require the local to seek additional space to house the program. In the late 1960’s Local %


98, along with other building trades locals in the city, began to experience difficulties with the School District of Philadelphia regarding the apprenticeship training programs, which had been using public school facilities for over thirty-five years. Throughout this period the School District of Philadelphia had allowed unions to operate their apprentice training program with absolute autonomy. However, in 1968 the School District became concerned about union selection procedures and the effect that they had on the racial composition of apprentice classes. Throughout 1968 and 1969, members of the Joint Apprenticeship Committee met with representatives of the School District of Philadelphia in an attempt to maintain a relationship which would permit the union to continue to utilize facilities at Bok Vocational School for its apprentice training program without undue interference. However, the School District continued to insist that the local increase the number of minorities in its apprentice program. Eventually, the Joint Apprenticeship Committee realized that the arrangement was not going to be satisfactory and that the apprentice program would have to establish its own independent training center. The Joint Apprenticeship Committee was faced with a formidable task. Now that the forty year relationship with the School District was drawing to a close the union and contractors would have to find a facility to house their training program and support the entire effort with no outside assistance. “In 1965 we reached an agreement that established a pension fund. Prior to that time each member would contribute $.15 an hour into his own pension program. Members got past credit for five years for any time they had spent in the union prior to the beginning of the pension program.�

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Chapter 7

The 1970’s - Recession Causes Layoffs, Retirees Club Founded In 1970 Local 98 ended its relationship with the School District of Philadelphia and established an independent apprenticeship training program, under the leadership of Ray McCool, Chairman of the Board of the Apprenticeship Training Program. The union rented the Hill Building at 19th and Spring Garden Streets for the training program, while a permanent facility was being built at 1719 Spring Garden. On January 9, 1973 the union celebrated the opening of the new training center. Apprentice classes were located on the second floor of the building. The first floor and the basement were rented to the Community College of Philadelphia. With the new Local 98 training facility on the 1700 block of Spring Garden Street and the local union hall on the 1800 block of Spring Garden Street the union continued to play a vital role in the development of the Spring Garden neighborhood. Throughout its history the union had been active in local neighborhood affairs, and had contributed to the betterment of the entire Philadelphia community by donating thousands of dollars to support the efforts of worthy organizations and agencies in the city and by recruiting members to volunteer their services for worthwhile community projects. These community activities made it possible for Local 98 members and NECA contractors to put their skills to work for the betterment of their fellow citizens and to experience feelings of pride and revitalization. It also created a sense of solidarity among those members who worked together for the common good. “In 1972 there was a very serious flood in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Two weeks after the flood IBEW locals from throughout the state were asked to volunteer their services to get '


electrical power into the homes in that city. Local 98 sent one hundred and ten apprentices and journeymen in two buses. We left the union hall at 5:30 AM and by 8:00 AM we were in a shopping center parking lot in Wilkes Barre. I will never forget that sight because it really made me proud to be a union member. There were dozens of buses there that day carrying thousands of IBEW electricians to help fellow citizens in need. The Red Cross gave us coffee and donuts and we were divided into gangs of twenty. The National Guard took us to the poor section of the town where we worked in teams getting electricity back into those homes. We worked that day until the sun went down. That was a proud day for Local 98 and for all of organized labor.” That same year Local 98 became involved in a series of events, which would have dramatic repercussions on all building trades unions in the Delaware Valley for many years. “In the summer of 1972 building trades unions confronted a non-union building contractor named Leon Altemose who was viewed as a threat to all building trades unions because he was openly opposed to unions and had gotten a contract to build a large hotel. Building trades unions mounted a concerted effort to prevent Altemose from completing the job. Building trades unions took turns picketing the work site and on June 5 when the Roofers Union was picketing there was some damage to the job. Altemose sued the union and the building trades, and the struggle continued for over nine long years. Local 98 was involved throughout the struggle, providing financial support and a much needed presence. Altemose eventually won the case in court but the event had a stifling effect on non-union contractors.” The 1970’s were the period when the union looked within its own ranks, to its retirees, for a source of renewed strength. For many years the retired members of Local 98 had discussed the need for some type of an organization to bring together the retired members of the union for social and recreational activities and to act as a political force for retirees. Finally, in 1974 a number of retirees met at the !


union and began to plan for the establishment of an IBEW Local 98 Retirees Club. The first meeting of the Retirees Club was held on October 22, 1974. Officers for the club were elected at the next monthly meeting. Dues were set at $1.00 a month. By the middle of 1975 there were 500 dues paying members in the club and 75 to 100 members were attending monthly meetings. Since its inception over 25 years ago, the Retirees Club has held monthly meetings to discuss concerns of the membership and to plan activities for members and their spouses. The Club has been actively involved in political issues, which effect retirees and the labor movement, and has sponsored numerous trips throughout the Eastern United States. In 1975 and 1976 the industry experienced another serious recession. Many Local 98 members were out of work and conditions were as bad as they had been since the depression in the 1930’s. In 1976 the local had the largest number of its members out of work in its history. During that year over 300 members were unemployed and another 300 had to find work out of town. In 1976, in an attempt to deal with the problem of widespread unemployment, the union implemented a Compulsory Vacation Plan. Over 600 members were out of work at the time and the leadership of the local felt that mandatory vacations would provide work for some of those members who were unemployed. Even the leadership of the local took the drastic step of cutting the wages of the Business Manager and the Business Agents. “In February, 1976 I had a meeting with my four Business Agents, Paul Gilmore, Joe McHugh, John McQuillen and Tom Neilson and asked them to take a cut in pay. I asked them to continue to work a five-day a week schedule, but to agree to be paid for four days. I said that I would do the same. They agreed and I implemented the pay cut. We felt that we should all sacrifice something.”

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“From 1975 to 1979, when a substantial number of Local 98 journeymen were unemployed, the local had 400 members working in IBEW locals throughout the country. At the time we had about 1,200 members. We had seventy members working on travel cards building a power plant in Beaver, Pennsylvania and others working as far away as Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas and California. We went to a meeting and made connections with other Business Managers who were able to help us place our members who were out of work.” “The most significant negotiations that I can recall were in 1976. That year every trade agreed to take the same wage increase for three years. That year we had a horrendous unemployment problem with no relief in sight. At that time we were experiencing high inflation and unemployment. The wage package was an attempt to stabilize the industry by limiting the number of apprentices and providing long-term relief for the contractors.” “For fifty years the IBEW had a no strike clause, administered through the Council of Industrial Relations, which stated that a local union could not strike without the approval of the International Office. At the IBEW International Convention in 1974 the delegates passed a resolution that gave locals the right to stop using the CIR no strike clause but they had to do so during contract negotiations.” Eventually economic conditions improved, and by the late 1970’s most of the members of the local were back at work. However, those journeymen would always remember the consequences of being unemployed and would adopt measures to more adequately protect themselves when the industry experienced subsequent periods of unemployment. On June 22, 1976 one of the most shocking and memorable events in Local 98 history took place. William Speck, Sr. attended the monthly Local 98 meeting that evening to receive a pin, a scroll, and a gift to commemorate his 60 years of membership in Local 98. Speck came to the stage with his two sons and his grandson to be honored. !


William Speck, Jr. placed the pin on his father’s lapel and the members of Local 98 gave the family a well deserved round of applause. Moments after William Sr. returned to his seat he collapsed to the floor and died. His sons said that the events of the evening left them very shaken, but they added that they felt that their father had spent his last moments on earth at the union which had been such an important part of his life, surrounded by people he had worked with for so many years. Throughout the 1970’s Local 98 members continued to volunteer their services to help build facilities for nonprofit agencies in the community. “In 1977 Local 98 members worked on a Drug Rehabilitation Center at 17th and Jefferson Street. The city ran out of money to finance the completion of the center, and they asked for our help. We asked for volunteers at a union meeting and over 750 of the hands of the people who were there that night went up. We met at 6:30 AM at the union hall on three consecutive Saturday mornings and went to the center and finished the wiring. On that job there were five journeymen supervising fifteen or twenty apprentices. We did it to help the community.” In 1978 Local 98 decided to sell the building at 1807 Spring Garden Street to the Carpenters Union and to consolidate the union office, the union hall and the apprentice training program in a new building located at 1719 Spring Garden Street. The apprentice training program used the second floor of the building and the union housed its offices on the first floor and used the basement for union meetings. “In the late 1970’s we negotiated payroll deduction for dues and check off for our dues protection fund. We also increased health and welfare benefits. At one time we actually had a $6 million surplus in our health and welfare fund. We also were able to transfer the administration of the health and welfare program from an insurance company to a private administrator and save 12% on the premium. We also added dental and eye glass coverage.” !!


Local 98 benefit programs.

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Chapter 8

The 1980’s - The First Strike Between Local 98 and NECA “In 1981 the International Union decided that they needed a parliamentarian for the convention which was being held in Los Angles. We heard that they were looking for someone and we wrote to the International President to tell him that we had a parliamentarian in Local 98 who might be the only one in the entire union. His name was Ed Foley. We got a call from the International Vice President who asked some questions about Foley. We were told that Foley should come out to the convention and serve as the International Union Parliamentarian. He has held that position at the last two conventions in 1986 and 1991. Ed Foley is very well respected throughout the union because of the position he held. “ The 1980’s were a period of full employment for the members of Local 98. In addition to the traditional work that was available during this period of economic expansion, hundreds of jobs were available working on the new office buildings and hotels that were being erected in Center City. And thousands of additional jobs were available for Local 98 members building atomic power plants. Although this new industry provided work for Local 98 members, some found that they had difficulty working under the conditions that existed on these jobs. “I worked at the Limerick Atomic Power Plant in 1982. It was like a zoo. I started out on night work. There were 1,000 electricians working the day shift and over 600 working at night. There were masses of people moving in and out of the facility. It was like being in the army. Anyone who worked at Limerick can tell stories about the way things were handled. For example, I was working on thirty feet of hard wall pipe, with a bend and a kick down, which I had been working on for four or five hours. The foreman would tell me to hold on until he gets someone to inspect the job. I would act like !#


CENTER

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SPREAD

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I was busy until the inspector showed up, maybe a week later. There was a feeling that no one knew what was going on. I finally left because I couldn’t work in those conditions. “ In March 1984 one of the more disturbing episodes in the history of Local 98 took place when a member of the local, Frank Groome, was killed while picketing a non-union contractor. “We had a job on City Line Avenue which was an existing building. There was an open shop contractor there and we did not have an agreement with him. He was doing a small job but the building had traditionally used contractors who paid the area wages and standards. This contractor did not, even though we had meetings with him which seemed hopeful. He had people working in the building and we decided, very reluctantly because of all of the activity in and out of the building, to put up a picket line. “On the morning in question there were about ten pickets. We stood at the entrance to the building, which led to a large parking lot. The picket line was established around six o’clock in the morning. The pickets were standing around talking and I had to remind them that we were there to be seen and that they should be walking back and forth across the entrance way so that people coming in could see them. A driver entered and did not slow down enough to permit Frank Groom to move out of the way. He happened to be directly in front of the car. I remember looking back from where I was standing. The driver hit Frank and accelerated the gas pedal and drove into the parking lot. The car struck Frank’s head and he flew off the hood. He was unconscious and some of the pickets chased the car as the driver continued to drive around the other end of the building. They eventually caught up with the car and told the driver what had happened.” “An ambulance was called and the police arrived. The Montgomery County police were not very friendly to us and they had never been very cooperative with the Philadelphia building trades or with picketers from any union. They asked a lot of question !&


while Frank was lying on the ground, unconscious, with several of the pickets helping him. The ambulance came and took Frank to the hospital. His family was notified and they came to the hospital along with members of Local 98. Frank Groome died on March 16, 1984 from injuries sustained on the picket line.” “We had a right to picket that building that day and Frank Groome was killed for exercising that right. At no time on that picket line, or other picket lines established by Local 98, did the picketers block anyone from getting into or leaving the building. The sole purpose of the picket line was to notify the public that we had a problem with a contractor working on the job site. “ For over forty years NECA and Local 98 had worked cooperatively to negotiate contracts, improve benefits and solve problems that arose at the workplace. This situation would be dramatically altered, however, by events that would have immediate and lasting effects on the relationship between NECA and Local 98 and the internal operations of both organizations. In 1983 Local 98 grieved a clause in the contract which prohibited the union from going on strike. Most IBEW locals do not have the right to strike without this prior approval from the national union. Local 98 grieved this no strike clause in the contract and an arbitrator ruled that the local should, in fact, have the right to strike if an agreement could not be reached. Despite the possible dire consequences of the 1983 ruling allowing the local to strike, NECA and Local 98 continued to work cooperatively and in July of 1983 they established a Local 98 Deferred Income Fund. Under the agreement 6% of a journeyman’s wages were deducted and placed in an Annuity Fund as a fringe contribution. When negotiations began in 1985, NECA and Local 98 realized that for the first time in the history of their relationship a failure to reach an agreement could possibly result in a strike. The issue that year was wage rates and the ratio of apprentices to journeymen on !'


the job. The negotiating committees could not reach an agreement and on May 10, 1985 Local 98 went on strike. The strike lasted two weeks and had a devastating effect on NECA and Local 98. “The negotiations in 1985 were the first time that Local 98 and NECA were negotiating without the Council of Industrial Relations no strike clause. Contractors and the union were not used to negotiating under these conditions since in all past negotiations they could rely on the Council to avert a strike by arriving at a settlement which both labor and management were obligated to accept.” “The strike in 1985 was over wages and the number of apprentices that contractors would be required to hire. The strike divided the contractors and the union severely. A very interesting thing happened during the negotiations that indicated to me the effect that a strike has on the parties involved. When the negotiations began the Local 98 bargaining committee wore suits and ties. When the strike began the committee showed up at the negotiating session in their work clothes. They wanted to be sure that everyone knew exactly who they were.” At the outset of the strike some of the membership did not take the situation as seriously as they might have. But as the strike went into the second week they began to feel that matters might have gotten out of hand. “During the strike I was on the local union Executive Board and I was asked to come into the union office to help out. I think that no one thought that the strike would happen but it did and it lasted two weeks. The first week of the strike I got a few calls from members saying that they were working around the house or were down the shore painting their summer homes. None of them sounded too concerned. The second week the calls changed. Members called to ask when the strike was going to end. You could feel the pressure increasing.” "


When the strike ended, Local 98 and NECA attempted to resume their normal operations. In 1986 the local for the first time established a Finance Committee which prepared a yearly budget and a projected five-year budget. The Committee was composed of the business manager, the president, the financial secretary and rank-and-file members. The union also continued to help community groups that were in need of assistance. “In 1986 we received a request for help from a woman in Southwest Philadelphia who fed the homeless on Thanksgiving. She called a week before Thanksgiving and said that someone had donated three electric ranges, which she could not use because there wasn’t enough power in the building. We sent three journeymen and a group of apprentices who volunteered their time and we went out and wired the building so that they would be ready to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving.” As late as 1987 the industry continued to benefit from good economic conditions. Things were so good that Local 98 and NECA agreed to establish a “seasonal helper” category of worker. Under this agreement, if the local could not supply a sufficient number of apprentices, contractors were permitted to hire seasonal helpers who could work for the contractor for up to a year. In 1987, economic conditions began to deteriorate and NECA and Local 98 began to be adversely effected by competition from non-union contractors. To meet this competition the Labor Management Committee established a program called “targeted jobs.” Under the targeted jobs programs, specific jobs were selected, particularly prevailing wage jobs where there are lots of non-union workers, and contractors and the union devised ways to make contractors more competitive. For example, overtime and double time was waived, or the ratio of journeymen to apprentices was changed or common starting times were established. This program made it possible for contractors to bid successfully on jobs, which union contractors would have otherwise been unable to secure. "


As the 1980’s drew to a close both Local 98 and the Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter of NECA were strong, viable, well established organizations. Local 98 had a membership of approximately 1,600 members and the local NECA chapter included over 125 member contractors covering seventeen local unions in the tri-state area. NECA represented approximately 50% of the union contractors in the area, but those member contractors handled about 80% of the man-hours of work installed in this jurisdiction. In Philadelphia, the union contractors performed about 60% of the work in the industry, but in suburban areas the number was as low as 5%. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s the industry lost a huge percentage of the residential electrical work. Most of the work in the 1980’s was in heavy industry since non-union contractors could compete with union contractors for light industrial jobs. By 1989 there were non-union contractors who could compete on any size job. In Center City Philadelphia Local 98 still controlled a good percentage of the work. But beyond the down town area it was rare that a contractor got a job. Local 98 once did all of the work at the Philadelphia Airport. By the end of the 1980’s the local had difficulty getting these jobs. Although there were danger signs which suggested that things would not be as good as they were in the 1980’s, no one in NECA or Local 98 could foretell the dire economic conditions which lay ahead in 1990, or forecast the dramatic effect they would have on the industry and the entire country.

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Chapter 9

The 1990’s - Local 98 Implements Programs to Protect Members During Recession In the summer of 1990, Local 98 had full employment and had three hundred IBEW members working on travel cards and one hundred ninety seasonal helpers. As winter approached the local began to experience some seasonal unemployment, which set in each year. As employment began to decline in October and November, travel card workers began to leave and Local 98 members took these jobs. By December a small number of Local 98 members were unemployed. In January 1991, unemployment grew rapidly and by the end of 1991 six hundred Local 98 members were out of work. In 1991 and 1992 there were fewer opportunities for Local 98 members to work out of town on travel cards because the economy was bad throughout the country. By the beginning of 1992, over 600 journeymen and apprentices, out of a total membership of 1,900, were unemployed. Over 30% of all journeymen were on the out of work list and fifty apprentices were unemployed. Circumstances were much worse in the 1990 recession than they have been in past recessions. In the 1970’s there were powerhouses being built in Pennsylvania and other states and members of Local 98 were working other jobs tending bar and doing whatever they could do to make ends meet. In the 1990’s there were no jobs available anywhere in the country and there were no jobs in the community either.

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“In the forty years that I have been in the union I can recall only two periods when things were as bad as they are today. In 1956 and again in 1976 a lot of journeymen were out of work. But l think that things are worse today and it does not appear that they will be getting better in the near future.” However, conditions were dramatically different for Local 98 members, who were unemployed in the 1990’s, than they were for those out of work in the 1950’s and the 1970’s. Local 98 had a number of programs to help members survive during this period of widespread unemployment. Unemployed members had their dues paid, their health and welfare benefits continued, and they received Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB). The local’s Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Fund was funded by dues paid by members at the rate of 3 3/4%. Members paid until the fund grew to $300,000. Between 1980 and 1990 the fund built up to that level because there was very little unemployment. When the fund exceeded $300,000 members received a rebate. When the fund began to pay benefits unemployed members received $60 a week for 26 weeks and then they got $300 a week for thirteen additional weeks. In addition, retirement benefits made it increasingly attractive for members to retire if they found that jobs were scarce. Journeymen who retired in the 1990’s, at 65, after working in the industry 45 years, could get a cash annuity of $60,000 to $70,000 and a pension as high as $2,500 to $3,000 a month, plus Social Security benefits. A retiree’s total pension benefits could amount to as much as $35,000 a year. In an effort to deal with the widespread unemployment, which existed in 1992, Local 98 increased its campaign to handbill and picket non-union jobsites. The union picketed and demonstrated against non-union contractors to discourage them from bidding on future jobs in the city. The union used unemployed members to picket and ""


handbill job sites throughout Philadelphia. On many occasions the local would be running two or three picket lines a day. NECA contractors felt that more drastic steps were needed to help union contractors remain competitive. They proposed that some of the more stringent work rules be renegotiated. Some NECA members proposed that contractors be permitted to move workers from one jurisdiction to another without dealing with problems raised by local union autonomy. This proposal was made to deal with problems that arose when NECA contractors were forced to hire workers represented by a number of different locals all of whom were working under different work rules. NECA based its demand for work rule changes, in part, on a 1991 survey by Fales Management Company, which concluded that the same economic conditions were likely to exist through 1993 and that the next high rise would not be built until 1995. If these predictions were valid, conditions would not be good for the unionized electrical industry for a number of years. NECA contractors believed that significant changes needed to be made in the agreement so union contractors could compete with non-union contractors, especially when the economy was in a depressed state. In an effort to deal with these competitive forces, Local 98 and the local NECA chapter devised methods designed to help them live together more amicably and to further their mutual interests. NECA Division Chairpersons and Local 98 Business Managers attended conferences where they worked on the development of cooperative approaches to deal with present and future problems in the industry. In addition, the leadership of both Local 98 and the Penn-Del-Jersey NECA Chapter attended the Cornell University Mutual Gains Model Training Program in Labor Management Relations, where they learned the “Win/Win Approach� to deal with problems facing their industry. Despite disagreements over work rules, NECA and Local 98 agreed that training was a key element in their struggle to protect the union’s jurisdiction and maintain a share of the industry for union "#


contractors. Contractors and the union realized that more sophisticated training was needed for both apprentices and journeymen and that training would have to emphasize the cooperative nature of their relationship. “The information that an apprentice needs to know in the 1990’s is twice as much as we needed to know in the 1960’s. A major problem in apprentice training in the 1990’s is deciding what should be in the curriculum to prepare a well-qualified electrical journeyman. We don’t teach what is inside the components that make up the equipment that we install today because when it is damaged we don’t repair it. We throw it away and plug in a new one. A second major problem is that high school graduates in the 1990’s are not as well prepared in basic mathematics reading and comprehension skills as graduates in the 1960’s were. We deal with this by offering a thirteen-week remedial mathematics course. Most of the apprentices entering the program today must attend this review course three hours a week during the summer before they enter the apprentice program.” “From the first day in the training program Local 98 apprentices should be made to feel that apprentices and journeymen must cooperate with NECA contractors or neither one of us is going to survive. The most important message that must go out to apprentices is that contractors are not their enemies. They must realize that we are their employers and if it were not for us they would not have well paying jobs with good benefits. For some reason they think that we must have an adversarial relationship. We contractors realize that we need qualified union workers and workers must understand that they cannot do without us. Together we make a great team.” In 1992 the curriculum for the apprenticeship program for the first two semesters included classes in the national electrical code, blue print reading, electrical theory, and mathematics. In the third semester apprentices were introduced to transformers, motors, motor controls, and lighting. In the fourth semester they were introduced to "$


more sophisticated systems, such as fire alarms and programmable controllers. The fifth semester stressed new technologies, such as fiber optics process control and instrumentation. The entrance requirements for aspiring apprentices also became more stringent in the 1990’s. Each applicant had to attend a forty-five minute session in which they were told what the apprentice program was about and what would be expected of them. Those who were still interested returned to the union the next day and completed a formal application. As part of the procedure applicants were required to produce evidence that they were over 18 and had graduated from high school. Applicants were then scheduled for a test administered by the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training, which measured their abilities in mathematics, finger dexterity, and spatial concepts. A committee composed of three contractors from NECA and three representatives from Local 98 then interviewed applicants. The committee usually interviewed three applicants for every apprentice opening. In 1991 there were ninety-five openings and the committee interviewed three hundred applicants. Training and upgrading for journeymen also became a priority for Local 98 and NECA in the 1990’s. In 1991 the union launched a new series of journeymen training courses, offered at night, designed to upgrade the skills of Local 98 members. The program offered fourteen different courses including programmable controls, fiber optics, welding, national electrical code, voice and data, air conditioning, and instrumentation. One hundred and eighty one members attended these courses in 1991 and 1992. “We have got to produce the best trained journeymen in the market place. If we don’t we won’t get the work. Other trades and non-union contractors are preparing their members and their employees to work with electrical materials that are being introduced today. We have to be better trained than these people because we will be competing with them for work and jobs.”

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During this period plans were being made to improve and expand the apprentice and journeymen training programs. “In the next ten years we will have to move our apprentice and journeymen training programs into a training center which is bigger and better equipped than our present facility. Journeymen will have to realize that they must continue their training throughout their careers. We must become specialists who are certified to do the most advanced type of electrical work. There will be a demand for technicians, who can perform highly skilled and technical jobs, and we must be able to supply those mechanics or we will lose the work. We need to be able to train twelve or fifteen welders at a time. We must have all of the computerized equipment that is needed to train our journeymen. We need more space to offer additional courses for journeymen in the evening and on Saturdays.” “The planning and decision making process which went into the development and improvement of Local 98’s apprenticeship and journeymen training programs was one example of a union which practiced democratic procedures and an industry which employed positive labor management relations. I’m very proud of that fact. The situation is really very healthy.” “Local 98 is a very democratic union. Sometimes almost to a fault. Our union meetings are really very open. I think that there is not a member of this local who would feel intimidated about standing up and speaking his piece. We talk about union democracy in this union. The relationship between NECA and Local 98 is unique. We understand that we are the two dominant forces in the industry and we will make it what it is. We have been able to resolve problems at the labor management level because there is a mutual respect between the contractor and the union.” As Local 98 entered the 1990’s the local had a tried and tested procedure for involving the membership and NECA contractors in the operation of the union. A number of standing committees administered various trust funds including pension, vacation and "&


apprentice training. The president appointed three representatives on each of these committees to represent Local 98 and NECA selected three representatives for the contractors. Each of these standing committees or trust funds operated as a separate entity that hired their own lawyers, accountants and staff. A Labor Management Committee met monthly to discuss problems that exist in the industry or on work sites. If there were grievances, which could not be settled at a lower level, they are brought to the Committee for discussion and resolution. The Committee was composed of three representatives from Local 98 and three from NECA, with two alternates from each group. The local union president and the business manager were usually on this Committee. The Labor Management Committee also negotiated the local contract. “Over the past twenty years there has been an excellent relationship between NECA and Local 98. We really work together as a team. There are, of course, times when we don’t agree with them or they don’t agree with us. But on the whole there is a team effort to provide the best training for our apprentices and to get the lion’s share of the electrical business in this area.” The local also had a Workers Compensation Committee composed of three rank-and-file volunteers who reviewed all of the accident reports to determine who had been injured and which worksites were most dangerous to the safety and health of members. The Committee worked closely with the Health and Welfare Committee to determine how the union could cut costs in that program. In addition, the local had a Political Action Committee composed of eight or nine rank-and-file volunteers who were active in politics in their communities. They worked during elections to circulate information on candidates and to get out the vote. Between elections the committee was actively involved in lobbying efforts designed to protect the interests of Local 98 members and NECA contractors.

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In 1992 the local also established a committee to develop a scholarship program which would provide financial assistance to the children of members who attended post secondary schools, colleges and universities.

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Chapter 10

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Growing and Changing Through the Years The roots of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers reach back to 1890 when a group of linemen and wiremen, working at the St-Louis Exposition (Worlds Fair), began to meet on a regular basis to discuss common problems. Convinced that they had no chance to improve their working conditions as individuals, this group of workers established a mixed local of linemen and wiremen and received a charter as Federal Labor Union 5221 from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In 1891 Local 5221 launched an ambitious organizing campaign to build a national union for all electrical workers. Locals were established in Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, Louisville, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. A call was issued for a national convention and on November 21, 1891, ten delegates representing about three hundred workers from eight cities met in St. Louis and founded the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (NBEW). By 1892, the number of locals in good standing had reached 43 with a membership of approximately 1,600. When the third convention opened in Cleveland in 1893, the number of locals had increased to 65. Throughout the period from 1892 to 1902 the NBEW struggled to remain viable despite hard times in the industry due to a severe economic depression. In 1894 the NBEW Secretary-Treasurer reported a loss for the year of $468.50, and he added, “I mortgaged #


The ten delegates who met in St. Louis in 1891 at the first Convention of the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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my household effects and building association stock to meet the checks and to get out the Journal with proceedings of the Convention.” In 1903 the Union elected F.J. McNulty President and voted to pay him a full-time salary so that he could devote his entire time to the interests of the union. This change transformed the Union from a weak association into a coordinated and effective organization. During the years from 1913 to 1919 the Brotherhood grew tremendously with the membership increasing from 23,500 in 1913 to 148,072 in 1919. The most significant factor contributing to this growth was World War I when electricity was in great demand. The early 1920’s witnessed an attack on all labor unions by an open shop movement called the “American Plan”. Anti-union employers attempted to destroy the labor movement by using means outside the law. The attack was effective and by 1925 the membership of the union fell to 56,000 – a loss of 90,000 members in six years. To deal with this period of labor strife the Brotherhood worked cooperatively with a group of electrical contractors to establish a Council on Industrial Relations. The Council on Industrial Relations is still in existence today. The Council, acting as a “Supreme Court” for the electrical industry, has settled thousands of disputes over the past 70 years. Work was scarce for most of the union throughout the 1920’s and when the stock market crashed in 1929, it made matters worse for many IBEW members. Unemployment was rampant. The situation was so bad that the union canceled International Conventions between 1929 and 1941 because of lack of funds. The fortunes of the IBEW began to change in 1935, with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, when the union launched an organizing campaign in utility and manufacturing plants. Thousands of workers joined the IBEW as “B” members who were in the union but were not eligible for the pension and death benefits that “A” members received. #!


By 1941, fifty years after the founding of the union, the IBEW had grown to 869 local unions with a membership of nearly 200,000 strong. In 1941 the average wage for inside electrical workers was $1.38 and a new high of $2.20 had been reached in some areas. In that same year the IBEW cooperated with the National Electrical Contractors Association and the Federal Committee on Apprenticeship to establish National Apprenticeship Standards. From 1941 to 1945 the activities of the IBEW focused on the war effort. Throughout World War II there was a heavy demand for electrical workers. Local 98 established accelerated training programs designed to prepare new members for work in war plants and navy yards. And over 35,000 IBEW members served in the Armed Forces in World War II. During the war the membership at work on the home front aided the dues, pension and death benefits for the members who were in the Armed Forces. In 1947 the IBEW became actively involved in political action and Joseph Keenan from Local 134 in Chicago became the Director of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) Labor’s League for Political Education, which supported candidates who promoted the interests of unions and working people. Throughout the 1950’s the union made substantial membership gains. During these years the IBEW organized seventy-five percent of the nation’s utility workers, most of who were employed by private utility companies. The union won National Labor Relations Board elections at nine RCA plants and a number of Westinghouse divisions and small and medium-sized manufacturing concerns. This multi-industry organizing campaign brought results and the IBEW grew to 650,000 members in 1,675 locals. Although the 1960’s were characterized by a loss of manufacturing jobs to automation and the introduction of robots, the IBEW experienced moderate growth during this period. The greatest threat to the union was posed by General Electric, which presented the members with a take-it-or-leave-it contract proposal in 1965 and #"


forced the union to go on strike. The IBEW joined other unions including the International Union of Electrical Workers (UE), the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the Machinists (IAM) in a 101day strike, which culminated in a victory for the union. By 1973, when the union moved into its new international headquarters, a twelve story, all electric building, constructed entirely by union labor, the membership had reached the one million mark. After 82 years of struggle, the IBEW, governed by a strong constitution and reasonably secure financially, rededicated itself to building an industrial brotherhood by organizing the unorganized in all branches of the industry. In recent years the IBEW has emphasized involvement of local unions and members in community activities. For the past 40 years the union served as an advocate for the handicapped, for the aged and for the less privileged members of our society. The union was active in campaigns to fight diabetes and birth defects, marched for civil rights, and lobbied at both the state and national levels to raise the minimum wage, to improve Medicare and Medicaid and in support of a national health system. The IBEW also lobbied for parental leave, adequate childcare for working parents, and equal pay for equal work for all wage earners. From the small handful of linemen and wiremen who first organized a union of electrical workers in 1891, the IBEW has grown to over 900,000 members. Our union continues to grow and we are able to reflect the changes that are taking place in our industry and our society. But the IBEW keeps its roots firmly planted in the practical trade unionism that launched the organization over a century ago and has stood us in good stead all of these years.

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Inside cover of 1927 ad book.

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Chapter 11

Our Industry Partners - The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) The National Electrical Contractors Association, founded in 1901, is a national trade association that represents, promotes and advances the interests of the electrical contracting industry. NECA is composed of affiliated chapters whose principal function is electrical contracting. NECA is composed of a national headquarters, 4 regional offices, 10 districts, field services, and 128 local chapters, which are located throughout the world. NECA is a powerful advocate for its nearly 4500 membercompanies and is the leading representative of the nation’s approximately 65,000 electrical contracting firms engaged in installing and maintaining communications and electrical power systems. It is often said that NECA speaks for all of the members of the electrical industry The activities and initiatives of NECA are carried out with the consent and active participation of its members. For example, it is the vision of contractors that motivates NECA’s interaction with government and other organizations to protect family owned firms, control risks, manage costs, and to secure fair competition in deregulated markets. For NECA contractors, who are the focus of all of these initiatives, the goal is to provide the best possible service to customers. In this era of heightened customer demand, the rapid emergence of new technology, and the expansion of technology driven markets, #%


NECA contractors face their greatest challenges, as well as their greatest opportunities to have an impact on the world around them. When Thomas Edison harnessed electricity and made it possible for us to light our homes, workplaces, and communities, he truly astounded the world. Today, 120 years later, we are witnessing even more amazing changes. The past decade has ushered in more technological advances than all of those introduced since the beginning of time. The 21st century promises to give rise to even more electrical and electronic advances, and at a vastly accelerated pace. Thousands of electrical contracting firms throughout the world are ready and eager to help their customers to avail themselves to this new and emerging technology. Today’s electrical contractors are in fact technical contractors who are involved in new construction, maintenance, repair, upgrades, modernization, utility work and increasingly work on voice, data, video and integrated systems. Therefore, when NECA companies demand more high-tech training for their workers, we respond by developing state-of-the-art training programs with our industry partners in the IBEW. NECA also responds to its members’ demands for management education in governmental and industry affairs, help with labor relations, and assistance with customer outreach. In addition, the organization prides itself on being the best source of information on electrical contracting available today. NECA values highly the long record of constructive and responsible labor relations practiced by the national association, its chapters, and its members. NECA’s basic policy is that every effort should be made by all parties to constantly improve labor management relations so that we can provide the maximum possible productivity per work-hour in order to meet competition and to promote consumer use of skilled electrical craftsmen employed by qualified electrical contractors. NECA’s labor relations policies provide for coordinated and cooperative efforts between local chapters and the national association. The policy features a high degree of local responsibility, while providing methods by which the national association can #&


promote and safe guard the labor relations, and business interests and goals of the industry. All NECA programs and procedures are designed to employ rational and peaceful approaches to the settlement of disputes and the avoidance of strikes, work stoppages and jurisdictional disputes. NECA has joined with the IBEW to develop the National Labor Management Cooperation Committee (NLMCC). The goal of the NLMCC is to improve the relationship between signatory employers and the IBEW at all levels. The NLMCC explores ways that NECA and the IBEW can work together to become more competitive by increasing employment opportunities and promoting the value of union electrical work. In addition, NECA frequently sponsors seminars to promote harmonious local labor relations. NECA also develops programs designed to improve safety, train apprentices and journeymen, and improve employment and benefit programs. NECA and the IBEW promote the development of programs to ensure an adequate supply of technically and professionally qualified craftsmen in all types electrical work. This includes the expansion of apprenticeship training and continuing education courses for journeymen designed to prepare them to work with technological advances in our ever expanding industry. NECA plays an active role in a number of committees including the Council of Industrial Relations (CIR), the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), the National Employers Benefit Agreement (NEBF), the Outside Utility Construction National Project Agreement, the Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes, the National Teledata Agreement, and the National Maintenance Agreement. The electrical industry and the general public have secured immeasurable savings due to NECA’s diligent efforts to promote and maintain full and uninterrupted productivity while striving for economically realistic terms of employment. #'


The Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter of NECA, the industry partner of IBEW Local 98, was founded and chartered in Philadelphia in 1939. For the past 61 years the Penn-Del-Jersey branch of NECA and Local 98 have worked very hard to create a better electrical construction industry and to ensure a better standard of living for all Local 98 members and their families. Through the years the local leaders of NECA and Local 98 have realized that they could accomplish much more for the common good of the electrical contracting industry if they strengthened the relationship between their two organizations. The proof of this realization is evident in the accomplishments that have taken place over the past 61 years. A few of these achievements are outlined below. In 1947, realizing the need for apprentice and continuing journeymen training to provide the industry with the best trained and most highly skilled craftsmen, NECA and Local 98 formed the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program. For the past 53 years the program has provided the basic training as well as the most sophisticated training needed in our industry. In 1953, NECA and Local 98 created the Local 98/NECA Health and Welfare Fund, designed to improve the health care coverage for union members and their families. This fund has provided continuous health and welfare benefits for all of our members and their families, even in times of severe unemployment. The program continues to grow and expand, despite many difficult problems facing the health care industry today. In 1961, NECA and Local 98 established the Local 98/NECA Pension Plan, that provided members and their families a pension that would allow them to retire with dignity and the opportunity to enjoy their retirement years.

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In 1983, NECA and Local 98 established the Local 98/NECA Deferred Income Plan. This plan made it possible for members to receive a portion of their income after they retired. In 1996, NECA and Local 98 initiated a Joint Labor Management Cooperation Committee designed to develop a marketing program that would employ innovative ways to use media to market our contractors and union members. The relationship between NECA and Local 98 has risen to unprecedented heights. Aggressive organizing campaigns, innovative and creative collective bargaining agreements, civic and charitable programs, and an incredible level of political involvement have ushered in a period of record breaking levels of growth for both organizations and their members. This partnership has gained tremendous recognition and respect locally and throughout the nation. The members of NECA are justly proud of the partnership with Local 98 and of the accomplishments achieved over the past 61 years. As NECA enters a new millenium, the organization looks forward to continuing a relationship with Local 98 and to working with the union, apprentices and journeymen in the years ahead.

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The National Electrical Contractors Association logo.

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Chapter 12

The Local 98 Federal Credit Union The Local 98 Credit Union was founded in 1974, when Henry Fornara was the Business Manager of Local 98. The Credit Union was located in the Local 98 union hall at the time which was at 1807 Spring Garden Street. Bill Wusinich, the first Manager of the Credit union, volunteered his time three nights a week and on Saturdays to get the Credit Union established. In order to build assets, Bill would ask members to open an account for $10 and would hold contests to get people to join the Credit Union. The tactics were successful and by the end of 1974 the Credit Union had assets of approximately $85,000. The Local 98 Credit Union was established to allow union members to pool their money and to make loans to one another. The Credit Union is a cooperative financial institution, owned and operated by the members of Local 98 who use the service. The Credit union is a not-for-profit organization that provides a safe and convenient place for members to save their money and to get loans at reasonable rates. Like other financial institutions Local 98’s Credit Union is closely regulated and the accounts of depositors are insured up to $100,000. The first Board of Directors for the Credit Union were Pat Lynch, Bill Wusinich, Mike McGlinchey, Ray McCool, Bill Gardner, Bob Poston, Bill Galbraith, George Heffner, and Peter O’Toole. All board members volunteered their time. After five years the assets of the Credit Union grew by 56% to $187,000. Membership increased to 800 and the Credit Union remained profitable. Franny Salsback replaced Bill Wusinich as Manager, followed in the mid-1970’s by Dorothy O’Toole, who held the position for over three decades.

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Joe Craven served on the Board of Directors and as Chairman of the Local Committee from 1980 to 1995. Joe was instrumental in organizing an education committee and was very dedicated to the Credit Union cause. Many people have to be thanked for the time that they volunteered to the Credit Union. The Credit Union would not have been able to function all of these years without their tireless efforts. The list of volunteers includes Bill Wusinich, Pat Lynch, Ray McCool, Bob Poston, Mike McGlinchey, Bill Gardner, Peter O’Toole, William Galbraith, George Heffner, Mike Nophut, Raul Cainas, Robert McGlinchey, Joseph Craven, Tommy Rowan, Edward O’Neill, Harry Redfearn, Dave Kinee, Stan Lizenburger, Thomas Queroli, Joanne Quattrone, Sylvester Roman, David Oeschele, Kevin Horneman, and Mike Leiderman. Current Treasurer Joseph A. Destra has been with the Credit Union since 1980 and Earl ‘Willie’ Hinton has been volunteering his time on the Board of Directors and as Chair of the Local Committee since 1976. Jean-Claude Vilmont has also volunteered his time since 1981. In the early 1990’s the Credit Union was at a crossroads. Unemployment was very high due to a very bad recession and the Credit Union had numerous delinquencies. For the first time in almost 20 years of operation the Credit Union faced the possibility of closing its doors or merging with another organization. The situation looked very bleak until John J. Dougherty was elected Business Manager. Under his leadership and direction the Credit Union was able to reduce delinquencies, reestablish old programs, such as S. U. B., and to introduce new services. At the present time Marie D. Destra is the Credit Union Manager, Anthony A. Destra is the Assistant Manager, and Ronald Quattrone is the Chair of the Board. Jean-Claude Vilmont is the Vice-President of the Board, Joseph A. Destra is the Treasurer, and Jacqueline Kubacki is Recording Secretary. Additional Board Members are Larry Lewis, Larry Dougherty, Fred Schaeffler, and John Smyth. Dave Spain is the Director. The Loan Officers are Earl Hinton, Jean-Claude $"


Vilmont, Bill Golden and Dave Spain. The Supervisory Committee is composed of Stephanie Tiernan, James Dollard and Margaret Dempsey. The year 2000 will be a banner year for Local 98’s Credit Union. The Credit Union has already increased its membership to over 2000 and the organization’s assets are currently close to $3,000,000. The Credit Union has started numerous new programs such as money orders, travelers’ cheques, direct deposit, automatic loan payments, a loan hotline, quarterly interest payments and statements, and home equity loans. By the Fall of 2000 the Credit Union will have draft checking accounts and debit cards available for Local 98 members. The Local 98 Credit Union is one more example of union members working cooperatively to provide support to one another in time of need. Local 98 should be proud of its efforts and extend thanks to all of those through the years who have made the Credit Union a success.

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Campaign literature distributed in the 1993 Local 98 election.

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Chapter 13

Preparing for the New Millenium In 1993 the most important event in the history of Local 98 took place when John J. Dougherty was elected Business Manager of the union. Dougherty was swept into office along with a team of Local 98 activists whose campaign slogans were, “The Future is Now” and “It’s Time to Get Things Done!” Over the next 7 years this team would introduce changes that would revolutionize the operation of the union and establish Local 98 as one of the most important local building trades unions in the Delaware Valley and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. At the age of 32, John J. Dougherty was the youngest Local 98 member in the history of the union, to be elected Business Manager. He brought to the job youthful exuberance, years of experience in a number of positions in the union, and a desire to introduce changes that would expand the jurisdiction of the local, increase the membership, and improve conditions for apprentices and journeymen. Dougherty introduced a series of changes that dramatically improved the internal operation of Local 98 and prepared the union to enter the new millenium. When Dougherty took office circumstances at the workplace and in the union were at a low point. The local had 65% unemployment due to a recession in the Delaware Valley. The union was near bankruptcy and was about to ask the membership for an assessment increase. Local 98 had no political influence and the union leadership had difficulty introducing meaningful changes because years of infighting had sapped the vitality of both the leadership and the membership. Local 98 was trapped in a time warp. In may ways the union was functioning more like it was in the 1950’s than the 1990’s.

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John J. Dougherty and his administration changed all of that. The initiatives, programs, and projects listed on the following pages have been introduced over the past seven years to prepare Local 98 for the new millenium. Expanded and Strengthened the Political Action Program. John J. Dougherty had been active in Democratic politics before he assumed a position of leadership in the local. In 1992 he was the Labor Coordinator for the Harris Wofford campaign for Senator from Pennsylvania and for the Bill Clinton campaign for President in 1992. When he became Business Manager he made it clear that strengthening the political position of the union would be one of the main priorities of the local. In the past 7 years Local 98 has become deeply involved in the political affairs of the city, state, and on a national level, and is considered a political force that must be recognized and dealt with. In 1995 Richard Mariano, a Local 98 journeyman, was elected to represent the 7th Councilmatic District in the Philadelphia City Council. Mariano’s father was a member of the union and his brother is very active in Local 98 affairs. Local 98, and the entire labor movement now has an advocate who can introduce legislation favorable to unions and to all working Philadelphians.

John J. Dougherty, Local 98 Business Manager, with President Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign.

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In April 1999, John J. Dougherty became one of the most influential leaders in the Democratic Party when he was selected to be the Treasurer of the Democratic Party in Philadelphia. In 1999, the local was instrumental in the election of John Street as Mayor of Philadelphia. Since that time Mayor Street has visited Local 98 headquarters 4 times and appointed John J. Dougherty as Co-Chair of the Selection Committee for Philadelphia School Board members, and the Chairman of the Philadelphia Airport Strategic Planning Commission. Improved Union Benefit Programs. The local has dramatically improved health benefits so that the system is solvent and provides the best medical coverage available to our members and their families. The local has moved to a personal choice/blue cross option which the members really like. Members are covered for everything from prenatal to well baby and from exploratory medicine to chiropractic coverage. The local has altered the Deferred Income Program so that members have the option to self direct their investments. Members can now decide how and where they want to invest their money. Pensions have improved by lowering the retirement age from 62 to 58 and then to 57, and adding a supplementary benefit based on the number of years in the local plus a members age. President Harry Foy has been instrumental in all of the improvements above. Negotiated a Code of Conduct Agreement With the School District of Philadelphia. Local 98 reached an agreement with the local School District that required the district to hire contractors who have a registered apprenticeship training program, provide health care benefits and a pension plan, and have minority representation in their work force. This agreement makes it increasingly difficult for non-union companies from outside of Philadelphia to compete with Local 98 union contractors. These types of agreements make it possible for unionized electrical contractors to compete more effectively and they improve the work that is being done on public building sites in $'


Philadelphia and throughout the Delaware Valley. These efforts were led by Business agents Tim Browne and Jim Mink. Expanded and Improved the Apprenticeship Training Program. On April 7, 1993 a Steering Committee was formed to establish an Instrumentation Course for apprentices and journeymen. The Committee was composed of Local 98 officers, NECA contractors, professional engineers and apprentice training instructors. The Committee planned the course and installed a state-of-the-art flowloop, which is the only one on the entire East Coast. The flowloop allows apprentices and journeymen to apply what they have learned in the course. All students are encouraged to become NICET Certified Instrumentation Techs. This Instrumentation Course is one of the more interesting and well attended high tech courses. Local 98 training instructors have been instrumental in helping apprentices compete in the Student Bowl for ISA. In the six years that we have competed, Local 98 apprentices have finished in first place twice and in second place four times. Past competitions included college students from around the country. Local 98 apprentices are studying for the next competition that will be held in 2001. Local Union 98 present Apprentice Training Committee members are, Bill Corazo, Mike Hnatkowsky, and Kevin McQuillen. Apprentices are shown below working on the flowloop that is part of the Instrumentation Course offered in the fourth year of the Local 98 Apprenticeship Training Program.

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In 1998 Local 98 signed a Sound and Telecommunications Agreement and took the first steps needed to offer a formal training program in this area for apprentices. The local sent Apprenticeship Training Instructors, Michael Neil and Terry Kane, to the BICSI Training Facility to be certified to teach the BICSI Installation Program. In the summer of 1998, a certified BICSI laboratory was installed in Local 98’s training facility. This laboratory is one of less than sixty sites in the United States that are licensed to train and certify cable installers to become BICSI certified. The laboratory is laid out to BICSI specifications and contains a library of technical manuals. The first class in Sound and Telecommunications began in May 1999. It was a third year apprentice training class. The training program is currently offering the course for first, second and third year students and over 150 students are attending classes.

The BICSI course provides high quality generic education that is a standard based three level program that offers Core skills based on industry best practices for low voltage systems. The three levels, Apprentice, Installer, and Technician, are based on knowledge and experience. The program offers skills training, registration examinations, and structured on the job training to meet diverse needs of the Telecommunications Cabling Industry. Upon completion of the training participants can conduct surveys, pull cable, and terminate and test copper and optical cable to the highest level of specifications. Sound and Communications Assistant Business Manager Ed Coppinger states, “We are now prepared for the future.� %


Negotiated a Union Exclusivity Agreement at the Philadelphia Airport. In December 1993 Local 98 reached a Union Exclusivity Agreement at the Philadelphia Airport. This agreement stipulated that all runway projects at the airport would be built by union contractors with union journeymen. This agreement generated approximately $30 million of electrical contracting work. Subsequently the union reached a similar agreement with U.S. Air which should be worth between $50 and $80 million. Mayor Rendell eventually adopted this approach as an Executive Order. Organized Workers in the Broadcast Industry. Intensive campaigns were launched to organize technical workers in the broadcast and entertainment industry. Two of these campaigns have been successful and most recently, the technicians at Fox are now covered by Local 98 contracts. Local 98 has recently added 5 new organizers to the staff and plans on organizing any workers in the Delaware Valley who handle the installation of wiring of any type. Expanded Neighborhood Participation in Building Trades Projects. Local 98 actively participates in programs designed to increase the numbers of community people who are working on building trades sites in their neighborhood. The Diversified Apprentice Program provides opportunities for local youth to work alongside Local 98 members on construction projects. Brian Burrows, the Director of Local 98 Apprenticeship Training Program, has been deeply involved in the planning and implementation of this program, and is actively seeking minorities who he can help qualify for the union’s apprenticeship program. Local 98 has worked closely with the Laborers Union and officials of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

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Expanded Participation in Community and Labor Projects. For many years, Local 98 journeymen have volunteered their time and expertise to work on neighborhood projects. Through the years thousands of man hours have been given to wire playgrounds, homeless shelters, nursing homes, recreation centers, city swimming pools, baseball fields, and churches. These labors of love are Local 98’s contribution to the community. In addition, Local 98 members are always available to participate in labor sponsored demonstrations and rallies.

Local 98 journeymen working to help build the Vietnam Memorial. Our members have returned to the site twice to do repairs when the monument was vandalized.

Local 98 members demonstrating near City Hall in a rally in support of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

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Expanded and Increased Support for Social Programs. For many years, Local 98 had a number of social programs that were designed to provide opportunities for members and their families to meet in social and recreational settings. These programs have grown over the past years and today the local has a softball team, an ice hockey team, a golf tournament, and sponsors fishing trips, barbecues, banquets, a Health Fair, and a local picnic. These programs improve union solidarity by allowing members to get to know one another better.

One of two Local 98 Softball Teams Shown in 1991

A Local 98 Sponsored Fishing Trip in 1991

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Hosted the 1996 National IBEW Expo and Convention. From September 16 to 20, 1996 the members and delegates of IBEW locals from around the country came to Philadelphia for the 35th International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Expo and Convention. At the convention, delegates elected officers for the international union and discussed changes in the international constitution. Local 98 members set up and manned all of the exhibits at the Expo and assisted in the organization and operation of the convention. A parade was held on September 24 through central Philadelphia in which marching bands led convention delegates to Penns Landing where they were greeted by clowns, food and entertainment. IBEW delegates found Philadelphia to be a delightful place to visit and were very impressed by the hospitality and organizational skills of Local 98.

Collage of events from 1996 National IBEW Expo and Convention.

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Published the Local 98 News. After many months without a local union newspaper the union began publication of the Local 98 News in April 1997. The staff for the Local 98 News included John Killoran, Jr., Ed Coppinger, Mike Mackin, Bruce Fulton, Steve Galbraith, and Walt Gabriel. Local members were encouraged to submit articles, photographs, and announcements of retirements and other events.

Building for the Future. Local 98 has one of the best Apprenticeship Training Programs in the building trades. The program consistently attracts the most qualified students who are willing to work diligently with journeymen to become highly skilled electrical workers. Local 98 can be sure that the apprentices in Local 98 in the year 2000 will provide the leadership that is needed to carry on the tradition that has been engendered in this union for the past 100 years.

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Building on the Past. For many years, Local 98 has had an active Retirees Club where members of the union who are no longer working can come together to renew old acquaintances, to reminisce, to discuss common problems, and to plan social events. These retirees are the men who built this union and who have passed on to us a legacy of which they should be justly proud.

The oldest members of the Local 98 Retirees Club are shown at a recent meeting. They are (from left to right): Carl Arst, Bud Hunger, Jim Henry, Bill Donahue, Bob Kane, and Charles Fean. Jim Henry at 92 is believed to be the oldest Local 98 retiree.

Retirees at a recent Local 98 Retirees Club meeting.

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Buildings for the Future. As Local 98 entered the new millenium, plans were being made to expand into a new building on the corner of 17th and Spring Garden, and to remodel the building at 1719 Spring Garden Street. The new building, which will be occupied in July 2000, will house all Local 98 Officers and Business Agents. The old present building will house an expanded apprenticeship training program, and the financial office.

The Local 98 Building at 1719 Spring Garden Street will house the Apprenticeship Training Program and the union financial office.

The new Local 98 Headquarters on the corner of 17thand Spring Garden Street.

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Building on the Past for the Future. In 1993 Ed Neilson was elected Treasurer of Local 98. His election to that office represented 54 consecutive years that a member of the Neilson family had been an officer of the local. Ed’s grandfather Tom Neilson, Sr. was on the Local 98 Examining Board and the Executive Board from 1946 to 1962. Tom Neilson, Jr., Ed’s father, served on the Executive Board in 1972, was Vice President of Local 98 in 1981, and was a Business Agent from 1975 to 1990. Ed’s uncle John Neilson was on the Examining Board from 1962 to 1964 and was the Local 98 Financial Secretary from 1970 to 1993. Ed’s brother Todd Neilson has served on the Election Board from 1996 to the present. Ed and Todd have five sons who they hope may someday decide to enter the Local 98 Apprenticeship Training Program to carry on the Neilson family tradition of service to IBEW Local 98.

A member of the Neilson family has been an officer of Local 98 for the past 54 consecutive years. Shown above (left to right, top to bottom) are: Ed Neilson, Todd Neilson, John Neilson, and Tom Neilson, Jr.

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A Local 98 Apprentice learning how to connect Philadelphia to the future.

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Epilogue There is an old saying that the past is prologue. A prologue is a speech addressed to the audience at the beginning of a play. The events recounted in this book of the 100 year history of Local 98 are a prologue to a play that will be acted out over the next 100 years and beyond. The actors in this play will be the members of Local 98, but they will also be able to write the script, build the set, and produce and direct the play. The members of Local 98 cannot rewrite history but they can control their destiny. This is particularly true for members of Local 98 because they are part of an organization that provides workers with opportunities to become actively involved in determining the direction their lives will take on the job and in the community. From 1900 to 1999 members of Local 98 built a union and helped to build a city. Practically every building in Philadelphia was wired by members of Local 98. They helped to build the movie theaters, the department stores, the ball parks, and the ships that fought in every war in this century. They wired the homes, factories, plants, hotels, convention centers, and office buildings. The members of Local 98 brought light to this city. From 1900 to 1999 Local 98 members elected their local leaders, negotiated contracts with their employers, introduced benefit programs that protected themselves and the members of their families, and played an active role in building a viable labor movement. Philadelphia is known around the country as a union town, and Local 98 has played an active role in developing that reputation. Local 98 enters a new millenium as strong as it has ever been. The leadership of the local is hard working and dedicated and have the total support of the membership. In the most recent local union election, for the first time in 100 years, a slate ran unopposed for reelection. Relationships with contractors and employment opportunities are excellent. The local is taking a leadership position in the Philadelphia Building Trades Council and in local politics. &


The morale of the membership is higher than it has ever been. Members of Local 98 are once again proud of their union and their craft. More members than ever are becoming involved in the activities of the union. There is no way that the handful of electrical workers who helped to organize Local 98 on January 5, 1900 could envision the dramatic changes that have taken place over the past 100 years. And there is no way that the present membership of the local can imagine the changes that lay ahead. But if recent events are an indication the members of Local 98 can be sure that the best is yet to come.

The Future is Now!

Every Generation Has to do it Again!

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Profile for IBEW Local 98

IBEW 98 100+ year History  

Here you can learn more about our 100 year-plus history, our mission, our leadership, the unmatched training we provide our members, our sig...

IBEW 98 100+ year History  

Here you can learn more about our 100 year-plus history, our mission, our leadership, the unmatched training we provide our members, our sig...

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