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Both Local 46 and 77 sent a letter to the Governor stating they were supporting the ongoing appeal of Thomas Mooney.

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In August, members again reject the change to the work rules allowing members to solicit their own work.

Local 46 and 77 form a Women’s Auxiliary that organized picnics, dances, and even wrote articles for the IBEW Journal on behalf of the two Locals. The articles were very social in nature, though they do talk about work and the benefits of the IBEW.

At this time jurisdiction issues seemed to be worked on constantly with Local 77, but the relationship was good; members seem to transfer in and out of the Locals. Joint-Committees were set up and press secretary Frank Tustin, from Local 46, winds up being elected Business Manager of Local 77 in 1932.

1931. Back-filling by hand - Unemployment Relief

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In September of 1931, members approved changing the work rules from eight hours per day to six hours per day, with a provision that men would be rotated; there is no description of what rotating means. The Executive Board met and negotiated with the contractors over the six-hour day, and at a later meeting, the Local votes to send a resolution to the Building and Construction Trades advocating for the six-hour day.

There is much discussion at meetings during this period about members repaying loans to the Local. Loans were made so members would not become delinquent on their dues; but it was not so clear whether loans were made directly to members for other bills, though the minutes leaned that way.

1933 Photo: Work on the University Bridge laying concrete in 1932

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At the July 13, 1933 meeting, members went on record in support of repealing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting alcohol. No surprise there! And of course it was repealed that same year, cheers! Work must have picked up during this period because the Charter was opened for 60 days for people to join with a $20 charter fee.

At that time, Local 46 had about 40 wiremen working on marine work at the Navy Yard in Bremerton. Those wiremen felt they were paying too much in dues to the Local in Bremerton and Local 46. In those days there was no other construction units like we have today; all electricians working construction did marine work, commercial, industrial, residential, or whatever came along.

1935 CWA Project

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In 1935, the minutes mention for the first time the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). If you earned less than $40 per month, Local 46 paid the International per capita payment. This would have been important, (as it is today), because falling more than two months behind on International dues prevented your family from receiving your death benefit.

The other major Labor event of this decade was the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) or the Wagner Act; it was signed into law by President Roosevelt on July 5, 1935. For the first time it gave workers the right to form and join Unions and to bargain collectively. Since then, the law has been turned on its head by corporations, employers, and their legal henchmen. But at the time it was a tremendous tool for workers to form Unions and get a better deal for their labor, and millions did!


In 1938, the Associated General Contractors in negotiations with, we assume, the Building Trades Council (BTC), wanted to try working an eight hour day for eight months, then to go back to the six hour day after that period. No reason was given for this except that maybe work was picking up and people might get used to working an eight hour day again. No matter, Local 46 members reject the proposal unanimously and sent a communication to the BTC of such action.

Fall 1938

In the Fall of 1938, the Local received a letter from the CLC asking for the support of a straight Democratic Ticket in the upcoming elections; the effort was rejected by the members. In December, the Local started sending $10 a month to the striking Laundry workers in Spokane.

With war all but inevitable in Europe, the shipyards once again began to gear up and man up with Local 46 members being in demand.

At the last meeting of the decade, a member requested Local 46 to take a stand on the parking meters being installed on the streets of Seattle. Though not explicit, it would seem he was unhappy about having to pay for parking. The members’ response was interesting, they supported parking meters as long as they were built Union! Go Local 46! Read on!

1930. The beginning of the decline.

In 1930, Seattle had grown by approximately 50,000 people since the last census, to 365,000 residents. The decade kicked off fairly well with the city issuing 2,538 housing permits and the minutes reflect some optimism with the Business Manager declaring it looks like it will be a good work year. However, dark clouds were on the horizon. Those 2,538 housing permits in 1930 shrank to 361 in 1932.

By the summer of 1930, the Local was meeting every two weeks instead of weekly. At the June 3, 1930 meeting, the Local went on record as opposing the proposed road through Woodland Park in North Seattle. The roadway eventually went to a referendum and the citizens of Seattle voted to approve the road building and today we have Aurora Avenue splitting the park in two.

The minutes begin reflecting the economic situation with donations to soup kitchens. In December 1930, members’ assess themselves 1% for a relief fund for unemployed members. So the Local and country were heading into some rough times.

1931 Meeting of the Unemployed.

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During the early part of 1931, the Radio Unit was formed within the Local. Following that, in April 1931, the Local received a communication from the International stating the IBEW has withdrawn from the AFL.

In reading through the minutes, it is clear, though never specifically spelled out, that if you do not attend a Union meeting there was an assessment you must pay. Members went before the Executive Board, and sometimes the General membership, seeking permission to miss meetings; some members lived too far out, some members were allergic to smoke, some do not want to attend dances the Local was having, so were seeking permission to not attend.

1932 Meeting of the Unemployed.

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At the November 29, 1932 meeting, the Business Manager announced an agreement with the contractors on the six-hour day 30 hour work week. Hours would be 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch period. There were exclusions for jobs where the other trades were working 8-hour days. Anyone working more than 30 hours, when unemployment in the Local reached 20%, would be cited by the Executive Board. This is probably the basis for the language we have in the Wire Agreement today.

1934 WPA Project Sluicing Playfield

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The biggest Labor issue of 1934 in the Pacific Northwest was the Longshoreman strike, which lasted 83 days. Over 12,000 Longshoremen on the Pacific Coast struck, and in Seattle, as in other West Coast Ports, the workers tried to form their Union with the International Longshore Association (ILA).

The Longshoremen had running battles in the streets with the police, and vigilantes, in order to prevent the employers from hiring scabs. The employers finally realized that the workers were not going to back down and entered into an arbitration process over wages, working conditions, and most important, a hiring hall that let the Union control hiring. A similar set up like our own hiring Hall at Local 46.

Though Local 46 received communications from the ILA requesting all Local Unions in the CLC support a General Strike, the communication was referred to the Executive Board. The only other discussion in the minutes on this issue was a letter from the International stating they will not allow any IBEW Local to support a General Strike

Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)

The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) formed and became a rival to the AFL Unions, of which the IBEW was and still is a member.

The CIO had been formed by the industrial Unions who believed in wall-to-wall organization of workers. The CIO organized steel plants, car plants wall-to-wall with one Union, like the Auto workers, covering everyone, including the craft workers. This was a real bone of contention and it was raised at Local 46 meetings regularly.

The Local approved sending $20 a month to the AFL to combat “subversive forces” like the CIO. Today in Seattle, we still have many plants and industries that are represented by numerous craft Unions, the shipyards being a perfect example. The AFL and CIO finally merged into one organization in 1955, under the leadership of President George Meany, a plumber.

1937 Growth in membership!

At the May 11, 1937 meeting, a letter from Local 73 in Spokane explained the need for men in the Spokane area; though the work was not discussed, it was probably dam work. The Local received a communication from the International in regards to refrigeration work and the fact that we were claiming the jurisdiction, not pleasing UA Local 32.

Our Union was growing, that was clear, from how many new members were coming into the Local. The new applicants’ names were read at the meetings, so they were listed in the minutes. Members voted to remove the 1% assessment for relief because of the growth and available work.

At the June meeting in 1937 it was announced that Local 46 and the Metal Trades Council were sending delegates to a conference in San Francisco to meet with other Locals and Councils about negotiating a Master West Coast Shipbuilding Agreement.

1938 Labor Dispute on the Docks at Pier 6

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