A Brief History of IBEW Local Union 48
The first two IBEW Locals established in Portland were Local 317, chartered in 1904, and Local 480, chartered in 1912. These two Locals elected to merge in May 21, 1913, to form a unified Local Union. Since 1913, Local 48 has increased the standard and quality of living for thousands of electrical workers, helping them achieve decent wages, improved working conditions, and the right to organize. Local 48 has helped maintain and increase the honor and dignity of hard work in organized labor, while earning respect outside of the labor movement.
Our first Business Manager, 'Mud' Crockwell, signed contracts with local electrical contractors which called for a wage of 22¢ an hour, a six-day work week for journeymen, and a dollar a day for their helpers. By World War I, Local 48 was able to negotiate a 40-hour workweek and time-and-a-half for overtime. Hard times followed the War, with non-Union shops pitting one man against the other for less pay and longer hours. During this turbulent period, Local 48 and its Business Managers continued to work with electrical contractors to develop a sound relationship. In the 1920's, Local 48 included a no-strike clause in its agreements that helped stabilize Union shops and gave us an edge over non-Union shops.
Local 48 weathered the tough times of the Depression even though many members couldn't afford their Union dues. Through their personal sacrifices, members committed to the Union and kept it alive. With the start of World War II, the tide of work changed Union members found plenty of work with the defense industry. Shipbuilding in the Portland area increased membership, including many women, to over 20,000--making Local 48 the largest Union in the nation.
In the years following the War, Local 48 began its commitment to education--which today has produced one of the top-ranked apprenticeship training programs in the nation. Our program, in conjunction with the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, serves as a model for training programs around the world. During the 1960's and 70's, Local 48 benefited from the construction boom, with members working on some of the area's most important projects. The boom ended in the 1980's with a recession. Still, Local 48 leaders had a Vision for the Future. They worked together with NECA to put in place new programs and new opportunities that brought about positive changes for Local 48 and its electrical contractors.
Today, Local 48 enjoys a nationwide reputation for excellence and productivity as the Portland area once again is experiencing growth in the building industry. Our journeymen are the best trained and most up-to-date in the nation. Their state-of-the-art skills, journeymen are employed on projects all over town--from safe wiring for family homes to the most intricate high tech projects.
If you are visiting Washington D.C. don't miss the IBEW Museum.