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The IBEW Local 48 Business Office and Dispatch have resumed operations as outlined in the Emergency Hiring Hall Rule Amendment dated March 23, 2020.

Dispatch will begin the evening of July 15, 2020 at 6:00pm.

Please continue to check the COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) UPDATES page on our website (click here to be redirected)  and follow our Local 48 Facebook page.

Due to the circumstances surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 Local 48 will be closing its business office effective Monday, March 23, 2020. Local 48 staff will still be dispatching members as outlined in the Emergency Amendment to the Hiring Hall Rules. If you feel that you need in person assistance, please call 503-256-4848. Basic dues may be paid by phone, online or mail. The Local’s staff will continue to serve our membership via phone and e-mail during this difficult time. You can find all staff phone numbers and e-mails under the Leadership Tab of this website. 

Americans Support Collective Bargaining - So Why Don't More Support Unions?

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A recent poll reveals that as many as 77% of the American adult population support “employees’ right to bargain collectively for workplace conditions such as pay, health care and time off.” 

This support is encouraging... but also a little confusing. 

When asked the same question about collective bargaining as a union, that support begins to dip.

But why do we see more support for collective bargaining than we do for unions? The answer isn’t always simple.

A Few Statistics About Unions

According to Pew Research Group, we find the following interesting factors at play when it comes to attitudes about unions.

  • Democrats are almost twice as likely as Republicans to view labor unions positively (58% vs. 27%)
  • Young people are more likely to view labor unions favorably (¾ of those ages 18 to 29 and only 1/2 of those 50 and older)

And, while there are no significant demographic differences among Democrats in views of labor unions, Republicans are divided along several lines, including:

Age

  • Republicans and Republican-leaning independents aged 50 and older are twice as likely to have an unfavorable view of labor unions (64% unfavorable, 32% favorable)
  • By contrast, a majority of younger Republicans (55%) express a favorable opinion toward unions

Education

  • 72% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents with a college degree say they have a negative view of labor unions
  • Non-college-educated Republicans hold mixed views - 49% say they view labor favorably and 47% unfavorably

Ideology

  • A majority of moderate and liberal Republicans (55%) say they have a positive view of union
  • Only about four-in-ten conservative Republicans (38%) say the same

What can we take from these statistics?

Union membership on the whole in the US has seen declining numbers over the last few decades. In 2019, just 10.3% (14.6 million workers) of workers were members of unions while back in 1983, union membership was at 20.1% (17.7 million workers).
There are many factors to consider, but we can’t overlook the possibility that labor unions have a perception problem that needs to be addressed if we are to see unions continue to play a meaningful role in labor relations in the U.S.

Below, we discuss some common misconceptions and how we are working to address them:

Misconception 1: Labor unions Create an Us vs. Them Mindset

This perception is perhaps connected to labor unions’ history of opposing management, but it doesn’t necessarily jibe with what is happening today. As an example, just look at the relationship between IBEW and NECA, the National Electrical Contractors Association. Across the country, IBEW works closely with NECA to develop mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreements (both nationally and locally), define training standards, and settle disputes.

Misconception 2: Labor Unions Were Once Necessary But Not Anymore

There is also a perception out there that, though once useful, labor unions are no longer needed to provide workers with a voice and ensure fair working conditions and better wages.

That simply isn’t true. Today, union members continue to negotiate a better standard of living and safer workplaces, and these efforts benefit non-union workers as well.

“Unions advocate for their members, but they also have indirect benefits for nonunion workers. Unions influence public policies and programs that affect work hours, job security, health care and other social programs for all worker households.” (source: MarketWatch)

Misconception 3: Union Members are Overpaid and Less Productive

This is a common misconception and it’s one that we’d like to say goodbye to forever. The IBEW is widely known for extremely high quality of work. A comprehensive 3-year study from Independent Project Analysis (IPA) also found that IBEW Local 48 workers were 17% more productive. This was after surveying hundreds of union and non-union job sites.

 

High quality work and higher productivity, what else could you hope for?

Misconception 4: Labor Unions are Out of Touch and Unwilling to Embrace Change

This one stings a bit, as there may be a kernel of truth to it. Historically, labor unions have been perhaps slower to adopt new technologies and new ways of thinking. We’re working on that! Today, IBEW and many other labor unions are working hard to engage with our younger membership and embrace technological advances. We are doing so because we understand these are vital to our future.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are positive signs that the hard work we are doing is having an impact on union membership. In both Oregon and Washington, union membership is growing. In 2019, the number of Oregon workers who are represented by a union grew from 256,000 to 277,000. Likewise, in Washington union member­ship increased to 19.8 percent of the workforce in 2018, up from 18.8 percent in 2017.

Today, we continue to work to educate people about the realities of union membership and  the many benefits collective bargaining brings. 

Learn more about becoming an IBEW union electrician.

Learn more about the benefits of collective bargaining.

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