International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Founded1891; 133 years ago (1891)
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Members (2023)
Kenneth W. Cooper
AffiliationsAFL–CIO, CLC, NAMTU

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is a labor union that represents approximately 820,000 workers and retirees[1] in the electrical industry in the United States, Canada,[3] Guam,[4][5] Panama,[6] Puerto Rico,[7] and the US Virgin Islands;[7] in particular electricians, or inside wiremen, in the construction industry and lineworkers and other employees of public utilities. The union also represents some workers in the computer, telecommunications, and broadcasting industries, and other fields related to electrical work.


The organization now known as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was founded in 1891, two years before George Westinghouse won the electric current wars by lighting the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition with alternating current, and before homes and businesses in the United States had begun receiving electricity. It is an international organization, based on the principle of collective bargaining. Its international president is Kenneth W. Cooper and is affiliated with the AFL–CIO.

The beginnings of the IBEW were in the Electrical Wiremen and Linemen's Union No. 5221, founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1890.[8][9] By 1891, after sufficient interest was shown in a national union, a convention was held on November 21, 1891 in St. Louis. At the convention, the IBEW, then known as the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (NBEW), was officially formed. The American Federation of Labor gave the NBEW a charter as an AFL affiliate on December 7, 1891. The union's official journal, The Electrical Worker, was first published on January 15, 1893, and has been published ever since. At the 1899 convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the union's name was officially changed to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The union went through lean times in its early years, then struggled through six years of schism during the 1910s, when two rival groups each claimed to be the duly elected leaders of the union. In 1919, as many employers were trying to drive unions out of the workplace through a national open shop campaign, the union agreed to form the Council on Industrial Relations, a bipartite body made up of equal numbers of management and union representatives with the power to resolve any collective bargaining disputes. That body still functions today, and has largely resolved strikes in the IBEW's jurisdiction in the construction industry.

In September 1941, the National Apprenticeship Standards for the Electrical Construction Industry, a joint effort among the IBEW, the National Electrical Contractors Association, and the Federal Committee on Apprenticeship, were established. The IBEW added additional training programs and courses as needed to keep up with new technologies, including an industrial electronics course in 1959 and an industrial nuclear power course in 1966.

Today, the IBEW conducts apprenticeship programs for electricians, linemen, and VDV (voice, data, and video) installers (who install low-voltage wiring such as computer networks), in conjunction with the National Electrical Contractors Association, under the auspices of the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), which allows apprentices to "earn while you learn." In Canadian jurisdictions, the IBEW does not deliver apprenticeship training, but does conduct supplemental training for government trained apprentices and journeypersons, often at little or no cost to its members. The IBEW local 353 Toronto requires all apprentices to be registered with the JAC (Joint Apprenticeship Council) for a number of safety courses, pre-apprenticeship training, pre-trade school courses, supplementary training, and pre-exam courses.

The IBEW's membership peaked in 1972 at approximately 1 million members. The membership numbers were in a slow decline throughout the rest of the 1970s and the 1980s, but have since stabilized. One major loss of membership for the IBEW came about because of the court-ordered breakup at the end of 1982 of AT&T, where the IBEW was heavily organized among both telephone workers and in AT&T's manufacturing facilities.[citation needed] In 1988, 30 percent of American construction work was unionized while the IBEW had 40 percent of electrical-related construction.[10] Membership as of 2020 stands at about 775,000, according to their official website.

The IBEW supports new construction of nuclear power plants in the United States.[11]


International Presidents

IBEW obligation at Local 405 hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

International Secretary-Treasurers

1891: James T. Kelly
1897: H. W. Sherman
1905: Peter W. Collins
1912: Charles P. Ford
1925: Gustave M. Bugniazet
1947: J. Scott Milne
1954: Joseph D. Keenan
1976: Ralph A. Legion
1985: Jack F. Moore
1997: Edwin D. Hill
2001: Jeremiah J. O'Connor
2005: Jon F. Walters
2008: Lindell K. Lee
2011: Sam Chilia
2017: Kenneth W. Cooper
2023: Paul A. Noble

List of IBEW conventions


# Location Date
1 St. Louis, Missouri November 1891
2 Chicago, Illinois November 1892
3 Cleveland, Ohio November 1893
4 Washington D.C. November 1895
5 Detroit, Michigan November 1897
6 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania October 1899
7 St. Louis, Missouri October 1901
8 Salt Lake City, Utah September 1903
9 Louisville, Kentucky September 1905
10 Chicago, Illinois Sept./ Oct. 1909
11 Rochester, New York September 1911
12 Boston, Massachusetts September 1913
13 St. Paul, Minnesota Sept./ Oct. 1915
14 Atlantic City, New Jersey September 1917
15 New Orleans, Louisiana September 1919
16 St. Louis, Missouri Sept./ Oct. 1921
17 Montreal, Quebec August 1923
18 Seattle, Washington August 1925
19 Detroit, Michigan August 1927
20 Miami, Florida September 1929
21 St. Louis, Missouri October 1941
22 San Francisco, California September 1946
23 Atlantic City, New Jersey September 1948
24 Miami, Florida October 1950
25 Chicago, Illinois Aug./ Sept. 1954
26 Cleveland, Ohio Sept./ Oct. 1958
27 Montreal, Quebec September 1962
28 St. Louis, Missouri September 1966
29 Seattle, Washington Sept./ Oct. 1970
30 Kansas City, Missouri September 1974
31 Atlantic City, New Jersey October 1978
32 Los Angeles, California September 1982
33 Toronto, Ontario September 1986
34 St. Louis, Missouri October 1991
35 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania September 1996
36 San Francisco, California September 2001
37 Cleveland, Ohio September 2006
38 Vancouver, British Columbia September 2011
39 St. Louis, Missouri September 2016
40 Chicago, Illinois May 2022
41 San Diego, California September 2026
42 TBA September 2031

See also


  1. ^ a b "Who We Are". International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  2. ^ "IEC ppoints Lonnie Stephenson International President". International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. July 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "IBEW Canada - The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers". IBEW Canada. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Hawaii Local Bridges Pacific with Guam Expansion". International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. March 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Local 1260 Reaches Guam Raytheon Agreement". International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. October 2002. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Panama, IBEW Sign Training Agreement for Panama Canal Expansion". International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. June 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "IBEW Local Union Directory". IBEW. Retrieved 2021-08-21.
  8. ^ Palladino, Grace (1991). Dreams of Dignity, Workers of Vision. Washington D.C.: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
  9. ^ "Hazards of the Electrical Occupation". Electrical Review and Western Electrician. 54 (3): 122.
  10. ^ Metzgar, Jack (1 September 1988). ""Buying the Job" Target Programs & the Elgin Plan". Labor Research Review.
  11. ^ Riley, William Bill (2013). "Why the IBEW supports expanding nuclear power generation in the USA". Atoms for Peace. 3 (4): 308. doi:10.1504/AFP.2013.058575.
  12. ^ National Joint Apprenticeship and Training committee for the Electrical Industry. Student Orientation Workbook. Upper Marlboro, MD: NJATC, 2005. Book. Page 193
  13. ^ "38th International Convenetion - Brotherhood Beyond Borders". International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. n.d. Archived from the original on November 18, 2017. Retrieved November 17, 2017.

Further reading