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The new Century started with a bang. On March 26, 2000, the Kingdome was demolished to make way for the new football stadium. The Kingdome, not quite 24 years old, was demolished in less than 17 seconds (above). A total concrete dome, which was said would last a hundred years, was left as a pile of dust and concrete rubble. The new football and soccer stadium (below is the new Seahawks Stadium [QWEST Field now CenturyLink "CLink" field] and Safeco Field, the Mariners’ baseball stadium, in the background) is world class and of course home to our own Super Bowl Champions, the Seahawks! Local 46 members wired and constructed the new stadium that has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of fans.
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By the beginning of the new Century, the population of Seattle had grown to 563,374, a sign of a growing and healthy economy. New startup companies were beginning to take off, and Seattle was encouraging Bio-Tech companies to locate here.
At the beginning of the decade, work was extremely good and the Local was trying to find Marine Wiremen because everyone was working.
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The Organizers decided to focus on solving those two problems. As a result, RES was born. With respect to the first problem of getting contractors to go after work, the Organizers realized that there were a whole lot of electricians sitting on the out-of-work list who may be willing to start companies and chase residential if the Union could find ways of assisting them. RES is a mix of solutions designed to encourage and train our Local members to become residential contractors.
Examples of those solutions are:
1. Business Classes for our members.
2. Shared advertising to bring in the residential service business (This idea was inspired by something UA Local 32 was doing at the time.)
3. Free membership in the Master Builders Association.
4. Monthly RES Dinner meetings with our residential contractors where they could brainstorm with the Local and other contractors to improve their businesses.
5. AccuBid estimating classes.
6. A Local 46 staff member who fields calls from our advertising in yellow pages, Radio and newspaper/flyers and who distributes those calls to our contractors evenly. The list above is just a few of the things that, combined with each other, sought to provide an incentive to our members/contractors to chase residential work.
With respect to the second problem of almost no union residential labor supply, the Organizers created a survey that they took out on non-union jobsites for residential electricians to fill out that asked questions about their work experience.
The last question on the survey was whether they would like to receive job offers from the Union as opportunities became available.
The surveys were kept on file, and as job calls came in that were not filled the Organizers went through the surveys and ‘robbed’ employees from the non-union sector.
The 36th IBEW International Convention was held in San Francisco, California from September 10-14, 2001.
The membership had grown considerably over the last five years to 4,054.
Our delegates were:
S. E. Anderson, M. C. Hendrix, J. M. Bailey 111, G. A.Lee, E. O. Evans, L. E. Liebertz, J. F. Fraine, G. A. Price and J. Tosh
December 12, 2001, Local 46 settled a long-running lawsuit with NECA. There was also a running battle with the Port of Seattle over crane maintenance and jurisdiction. The issue eventually went to arbitration with Local 46 losing and another union ending up doing the maintenance on the Port’s cranes.
At the May 8, 2002 meeting, there was a report of a Right to Work Initiative being promoted by the Young Republicans from the University of Washington; nothing more is heard of the issue.
October 9, 2002 General Meeting, a motion was passed supporting the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) in their struggle with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The PMA locked out the Longshoremen up and down the coast for 10 days. This was another hard-fought struggle, but the ILWU prevailed. There was a fear at the time that the federal government would step in and man the docks, but this never happened
At this time in 2003, the Seattle Times, working under a Joint Operating Agreement with the Seattle Post Intelligencer, its rival, announced that it wished to end the Joint Operating Agreement.
The community quickly cobbled together an organization called the “Committee for a Two Newspaper Town” and for the next few years both papers continue to operate. Local 46 goes on record supporting the Committee for a Two Newspaper Town.
Eventually, the Supreme Court of Washington ruled in the Seattle Times favor and the operating agreement came to an end.
By 2009, the Seattle P.I., which had been printing newspapers in Seattle since 1863, was no more.
The Seattle P.I. now has an online presence.
Local 46 members continue to maintain the Seattle Times facilities.
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2005 - GPSEW begins for Marine Apprenticeship
August 10, 2005, it is reported that some large Union affiliates are withdrawing from the AFL CIO; the Teamsters, Service Employees and the Grocery Workers and, of course, the Carpenters had already departed.
In October 2005, the Greater Puget Sound Electrical Workers Apprenticeship Committee began as Local 46’s Marine and Residential HVAC Electrician Apprenticeship Program.
Previously, the Marine program was known as the Seattle Marine Electrical Workers Apprenticeship Committee; the name was changed when the Residential HVAC program was added to our Marine program.
The Marine program is a 6,000 hour, three-year apprenticeship, while the Residential HVAC program is an 8,000 hour, four-year apprenticeship.
At the January 2006 meeting, the Local donated $2,500 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief and Reconstruction Committee in New Orleans. In 2009, the Local 46 Minority Caucus, Seattle Chapter attended the National Minority Caucus meeting in New Orleans and our Local 46 delegates volunteered in the continuing clean up and reconstruction from Katrina.
By 2006, work was again plentiful with Book 2’s being dispatched. The Local was recognized by the Washington State Labor Council as the Local Union turning out the most volunteers in the Labor-Neighbor program.
The reserves in Health and Welfare were at their highest level ever reported, so you know work is good.
The 37th IBEW International Convention of 2006 was held in Cleveland, Ohio. The membership had dipped slightly to 3,905. The elected delegates were: G. L. Boyd, H. R. McGuire, E. O. Evans, G. A. Price, G. L. Galusha, M. E. Schab, S. L. Hagen, J. W. Tosh, V. R. Hamilton, R. G. Wheeler
At the October 8th 2008 meeting, it was motioned and carried that Local 46 contribute $3,000 to the Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers Education Fund to assist in the fight to defeat a Right to Work initiative that was being voted on the following month.
The initiative was defeated and the workers in Colorado are still in a free bargaining state.
In November of 2008, the Nation elected the first African American President, Barack Obama.
With a Democratic President and with the Democrats having majorities in the House and Senate, there was much discussion at our meetings about the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
EFCA allows workers to form Unions without fear and intimidation, and was the top priority of all organized labor.
Of course, as it turns out, after the election it was not the priority of our so-called friends in office.
In 2009, workers in Washington tried to pass their own version of the EFCA called the ‘Worker Privacy Act’ in the Washington State Legislature; the results were the same with no action to help workers form organizations.
August 12, 2009, members passed a By-laws change to increase basic dues $5.00 per month to go into a Benevolence Fund to assist members in their time of need.
This Fund has been a virtual life saver for many members trying to cope with long term unemployment over the last few years.
There is discussion at the October meeting about the potential threat of our building being flooded by problems at the Howard Hanson Dam. The Local was a day or two away from building a flood wall when the Army Corp of Engineers announced that the worst of the potential problems had been solved.
The Sound Alliance in Puget Sound connects Local 46 with the greater community as well as connecting us with organizations and people we would not normally talk with as trade unionists.
The same goes for those partner organizations; not too often would we discuss the merits of retrofitting a school with new energy efficient equipment with a Catholic Sister, but we do in Sound Alliance.
As a result of this collaboration, SustainableWorks was born in 2010. SustainableWorks is a nonprofit market recovery program bringing together many of the union trades across five counties of Washington State.
To date, SustainableWorks has saved residents $1.7 million in energy bills, and deferred 9.3mil lbs of carbon pollution, the equivalent of removing nearly 800 cars from the road each year or burning nearly 500,000 gallons of gas.
These savings will continue to accumulate each year for the next 20-40 years. We have created roughly 200 quality jobs and trained hundreds of workers in energy efficiency careers.
We have improved over 3000 homes in five counties of Washington State, and our territory is growing. We estimate to date that our market share is roughly 30% in the energy efficiency arena.
Quite an accomplishment in just a few short years.
At the July 14, 2010 meeting, it was motioned and carried that Local 46 contribute $25,000 to the ‘No on Initiative 1082’.
This initiative would have privatized the Workman Compensation system in Washington State.
This was a large contribution in a time when hundreds of members were out of work, but the results from a privatized compensation system would have been devastating for injured workers; it could have impacted everyone in our Local.
Fortunately, the voters of Washington State knew what we knew; if you think the State is hard to deal with, try dealing with ‘for profit’ insurance companies!
While most Unions shrank in the last thirty years, Local 46 has had steady growth and continues to innovate and not stand still. Residential Electrical Services (RES) is a perfect example, assisting small contractors to get on their feet in the residential market, offering a referral service for contractors, and having a booth at the Home Shows highlighting our contractors. These, and many more new ideas, have been implemented by the Local over the years.
The latest innovation is having an Associate Membership open to all electrical workers. One of the benefits is being able to attend classes provided by the Local. This introduces electrical workers, who may have heard only one thing about the Union, to experience a completely different story when they come to the Hall and take a class. And of course all of these classes are free to IBEW members.
At the July 11, 2012 General Meeting it was motioned and carried that Local 46 donate $4,600 to the striking Davis Wire workers.
The Davis Wire workers are Teamsters and are located within sight of the Hall in Kent. The workers were out for three months and eventually returned to work. This donation is just another example of the compassion displayed time and time again by Local 46 members.
For over 100 years, together with our beginning as Local 217, Local 46 has been supporting those in need. Local 46 has received awards from the International almost yearly for signing the most new contractors and new members. Local 46 is usually in the top ten in the nation. This is a history that goes back to mid-1980’s when the Wiremen made the decision that the Local had to do things differently and the fruits of that decision are still evident today.