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They’re bargaining to improve safety, quality of life

But IBEW 46 Limited Energy Electricians are struggling (again) to get fair contract from NECA


KENT, Wash. (March 19, 2024) — More than 1,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 46 employed in the union’s second largest unit — Limited Energy Electricians — are at the bargaining table trying to improve their quality of life, including by introducing paid holidays. But negotiators from the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) have been refusing to even discuss the possibility.

In the contract negotiations three years ago, NECA pushed IBEW 46 Limited Energy Electricians to the brink of a strike before they finally won a contract agreement. With that agreement set to expire on March 31, the union is hoping to avoid any potential work stoppage and is urging NECA to negotiate a fair contract that values these electricians and their safety.

Limited Energy Electricians install and maintain multiple life-safety systems, such as fire and security alarms, building access and HVAC controls, computers, phones, emergency radios, and more. They have extensive training in various systems, are well-versed in the latest technologies, and can handle any issues that may arise, from troubleshooting malfunctions to ensuring safety measures are met.

Although these skilled electricians play a vital role in maintaining the connection and energy supply in Washington communities, their contributions often go unnoticed.

“It is critical that these electricians receive fair treatment and a contract that reflects the value of their work,” said Sean Bagsby, Business Manager / Financial Secretary for IBEW 46. “Without proper support and compensation, their dedication and commitment to their profession will suffer. A fair contract is essential as it directly impacts their ability to provide reliable and high-quality services to the community.”

Ensuring safe working conditions is also crucial for the well-being and quality of services provided by Limited Energy Electricians. Their work exposes them to potential risks such as electrical shocks, work equipment accidents, hazardous materials, and other hazardous work conditions. Improved work safety can be achieved by providing comprehensive training, proper safety equipment, and protocols, such as requiring contractors to provide radios.

But an essential component of improving the safety — and quality of life — for Limited Energy Electricians is adding paid days of rest, holidays that are enjoyed by most other workers. Although IBEW 46 negotiators have made it clear how important paid holidays are to Limited Energy Electricians, the union reports that NECA contractors will not even discuss the issue and are stonewalling at the bargaining table on this and other efforts to improve members’ safety and health.

That’s why IBEW Local 46 Limited Energy Electricians are sharing their struggle to win a fair contract with the rest of the labor community.

“It is crucial to have the support of Washington’s union movement in this contract struggle,” Bagsby said. “A fair contract would bring numerous benefits, not just for Local 46 Limited Energy Electricians, but also for the communities they serve. It promotes job satisfaction, provides financial stability, enhances service quality, and fosters a positive working environment, making conditions better for all.”

Stay tuned to The STAND for further updates.

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