The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was born in St. Louis, Missouri on November 28th 1891. Prior to IBEW’s existence, one out of every two linemen was killed on the job due to poor working conditions, long work hours and a lack of safety training. The story was the same everywhere. The work was hard; the hours long; the pay small. It was common for a lineman to risk his life on the high lines 12 hours a day in any kind of weather, seven days a week, for the meager sum of 15 to 20 cents an hour.
There has been a lot of anti-union legislation throughout the years. In 1918, the open-shop movement in the United States, the infamous misnamed American Plan--was adopted; and every piece of antiunion propaganda and trick in the book were pulled against the IBEW and its fellow union members in the AFL. Anti-union employers attempted to destroy the labor movement through legal and not-so-legal means.
Between the IBEW Conventions held in 1946 and 1948, the Taft-Hartley Act was passed, creating vexing problems for the labor movement and severely hampering efforts to organize new members. With just a few successes over the years, the antiunion forces continue today. During the Bush Administration from 2001 to 2009, the National Labor Relations Board made decision after decision which continue to hinder the progress of all unions in the United States.
Despite the obstacles, IBEW remains one of the largest, most powerful unions in the United States and Canada. Many other classifications have been added over the years. In addition to construction power linemen, IBEW also represents utility workers, inside electrical workers, communications workers, railroad electrical workers, electrical manufacturing workers, government workers and several non-traditional groups such as hospital workers and city employees.