has a lot to offer employers as well as workers!
Many people believe that Unions work only
on the behalf of employees and completely ignore the interests of the employers
who provide our members with jobs. With the IBEW, nothing could be further from
the truth! Sure, we as union leaders do our job and work to get the best wages,
benefits and working conditions for our members. At the same time we also
realize that it is the contractors, who in many cases are betting everything
they own to bid the job, which provide our members with those great wages and
benefits. Do we want our contractors to make lots of money? You better believe
we do. Without them we do not get paid.
This is why several years ago we decided
to create some new programs to help our contractors be more successful. Besides
the usual benefits to a contractor affiliating with the IBEW - ready access to
a qualified labor supply and the ability to send apprentices to a state of the
art 60,000 square foot training facility just to name a few - we started
offering courses for our contractors.
We have several contractor classes. Some
examples include our Small Business Class. This class is taught by John
Schaufelberger who is the chairman of the Construction Management Department at
the University of Washington. Another excellent class is our Accubid Estimating
Class. This class is aimed at the new estimator who is unfamiliar with the
Accubid estimating software. This class costs over $2000.00 to take from Accubid
but we put it on for free! Soon there we will have classes on scheduling and
project management. All of these classes are open to nonunion contractors as
well as long as space is available. I will admit that if a non-union contractor
takes one of our classes we will be talking to them about the benefits of
partnering with the Union.
Another benefit to our signatory
contractors is that the Union pays for pooled advertising. Several years ago
the IBEW started an advertising co-op called Residential Electrical Services
(RES). The Union bought advertising in several yellow page books around the
Puget Sound area. As phone calls come in to a call center, the calls are routed
to contractors who have elected to participate in the free advertising
sponsored by the IBEW.
The IBEW also underwrites a 5-year
guarantee on residential electrical work installed by one of our contractors.
This program is called The +5 Homeowners Electrical Protection Plan. It adds an
additional 5 years to the typical one-year home warrantee offered by home
builders. This has proven to be a very effective marketing tool for our Union
contractors. If something fails on the electrical system before the +5 program
is up, the Union pays to have the issue fixed.
There was a time when most unions viewed
the employers that they have contracts with as the enemy. Those times are long
gone at the IBEW. Today, we understand that without a successful contracting
community we do not have a successful labor community. That is why we at the
IBEW continually work to build alliances with our contractors so that we can
all share in the success of the electrical industry that we have chosen.