IBEW Local 354 History

History of Local 354

Working people have struggled for rights and safety throughout the history of America. The first documented strike was by Polish immigrants demanding the right to vote in Jamestown Virginia in 1619 as well as some of the larger tragedies; the Bread and Roses strike in 1912, the Haymarket Square massacre in 1886, the Triangle  Shirtwaist  Company  fire  where  125 girls died on the night of March 25, 1911, the Ludlow massacre in 1920 where 20 men, women and children were killed at a coal mining town in Colorado, the battle of Matewan another tragic time for organized labor when anti-union thugs were violently evicting coal miners and their families from company housing for no other reason than they were joining a union, as well as more recent conflicts in 1981, when 11,359 Air Traffic controllers (PATCO) were fired for going on strike for better working conditions. The real kicker here is that this union gave its support to the Republican President who banned the strikers from ever working for the FAA. This ban was lifted in 1993.

From the time the pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley in 1847 we have been at the center of several high points in the nation’s history.  The East and West sections of the Intercontinental Telegraph system were joined on the east side of Main street in Salt Lake City in  1862,  Utah was again the center of attention on May 10th 1869 when the Union Pacific railroad tracks and the Central Pacific railroad completed the transcontinental railroad with the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory, Utah. Utah became the 45th state in 1896.

Salt Lake City was the host to the 2002 Winter Olympic games, where we proudly hosted a world event only 6 months after our country was attacked in New York.

There was higher security at these games than at previous times, but the citizens of Salt Lake City showed their support by volunteering in mass to make the games a great success.

The second national convention of the IBEW Brotherhood was held in Chicago in November of 1892 amid great optimism. With 26 delegates representing approximately 2,000 members from around the country, Henry Miller had reason to feel secure.

Salt Lake City was the site of the 8th national convention of the IBEW in September 1903. This was a turning point for our brotherhood when the delegates elected Frank J. McNulty as the first full time, salaried President of the I.B.E.W. he was a strong, magnetic leader with a winning personality. He created a sense of responsibility, which became a steadfast policy. During this time the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was experiencing unprecedented growth. Under the leadership of its first full-time President the membership grew from 9,900 in 1903 to 24,000 in 1905.

At the 2006 convention, held in Cleveland, Ohio the IBEW 2011 Convention data membership was approximately 750,000 strong. The body renewed their long-standing commitment to organizing with a per capita tax increase.

In 1903 a charter bearing the Local number #354 was issued to Mattoon, Illinois. This local never functioned and the charter was later issued to Local #354 - Salt Lake City Inside Wiremen on April 22, 1907.  IBEW Local 354 started with 7 Charter members we now have a membership of approximately 1800.

Our local has experienced difficulties, including being in a right to work state, but in general the building trades unions in this state give each other a large amount of respect, we recognize we are in the struggle of supporting workers together.

Early in our history (1908) Local 354 seceded from the IBEW along with many other local unions who aligned themselves with the Reid faction in the Reid-Murphy split.

The split was a result of a number of things which included a long brewing dissension between wiremen and linemen, further aggravated by disappointed office seekers and a former Grand Treasurer who had been removed from office.

After considerable effort on the part of Samuel Gompers, the AFL and a court decision in 1912 the two factions of the brotherhood were reunited and Local  354’s  charter  was  reinstated  in  1913  per  a “Tentative Agreement” a term used following the Reid-Murphy split between the years 1913 and 1919, the IBEW saw the most impressive leap in membership in its history—23,500 in 1913 to 148,072 in 1919 .

The IBEW Journal stated that in 1919 Local 354 members agreed on a $1.00 per hour wage around $8.00 per day with double time for over time, a 44 hour work week and all expenses, transportation and travel time paid for all out of town work. This agreement also made our city an absolute closed shop town. Work was fair and looked good for the following year. In 1920 the Council on Industrial Relations was organized which effectively made us a strike-less industry, and the IBEW Headquarters moved permanently to Washington D.C. from Springfield, Illinois. By 1926 work had slowed we had changed to an open shop town and there were several jobs starting in the valley, work would soon pick up.

In the spring and summer of 1926 Salt Lake Electric would be working on the 2 story Federal Reserve building, the Deseret News had a 4-story addition, and Saltair was being re-built by our members.

That same year our members were trying to get a city license requirement for Journeymen. Work had slowed down by the end of this year.

The February 1928 journal submission by long time Press Secretary L.C. (Pynx) McEntee states that although a small number of our membership is working, we are in better shape for the coming year than any time since 1918 since the membership is more active than ever before. The city increased the requirements for the contractor’s licenses with some much-needed bars to restrict the contractor and weed out the unscrupulous ones they also enacted strict bonding requirements.

In 1930 Local 354 elected its first salaried Business Manager, Thomas Faddis. Work was holding its own but the Yellow dog contracts undermined us regularly until 1935 when the Wagner act was passed. Labor enjoyed several wins that year with the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1935; the 8-hour workday became the national standard, which was a part of this Act passed during President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal." Our wage in 1937 was about 88 cents per hour but members were only working part time. Business Manager was L.F. Anderson who held office from 1937 to 1946, he was appointed as an 8th District Rep. and went on to be the 8th District Vice-President. Brother Anderson passed away in 1981 while on his way to Local 354’s annual award ceremony.

In July of 1946 Local 354 announced the opening of its new office and meeting hall at 1164 South Main Street in Salt Lake City. With the growing membership, due to the work being done at Geneva Steel during the war, the Labor Temple could not provide us with the additional room needed and we bought the property on Main Street, this meeting hall would seat 175 to 200 people.

In 1954 we began holding welding classes at the Salt Lake area vocational school. These classes were in great demand and names were drawn out of the hat at union meetings to give a fair chance to all those in attendance, the classes were limited to 12 at a time and turnout was great so more classes were scheduled to accommodate all those interested.

In 1954 our local members also started their own Credit Union with approximately 30 original members, business was first run out of Stan Hunters home he was the first Treasurer of the Credit Union.  Today the IBEW Local 354 Federal Credit Union is housed in our building behind the local union hall. The 1957 Journal article highlighted veteran member James Pfeffers of IBEW Local 354 he was a former President (1913), Vice President, Examining Board member, Trustee and Executive Board member of our local. Brother Pfeffers was receiving his 50-year pin from Brother L. F. Anderson, who was Local 354 Business Manager from 1937 to 1946 at the time of the Journal article in 1957 Brother Anderson held the seat of Vice- President of the 8th District.

IBEW Local 1313, PROVO - now called the Southern Unit was chartered on September 15, 1946 - amalgamated into IBEW Local 354 on January 1, 1960 by International President Gordon N. Freeman (I.P. from 1955 to 1968).

Local 1313’s first Business Manager was Anthony DeMarco (1946) and the last Business Manager at amalgamation was Alf B. Ball (1960).

Our building on main street was remodeled and expanded to a make room for the growing membership, the dedication ceremony was held on November 11, 1961 which included guest speaker L.F. Anderson, 8th District Vice- President.

In 1965 work was slow but the membership expressed encouragement due to the recent election where our state had sweeping Democratic wins on capitol hill. In 1972 the IBEW membership had reached one million members. In 1977 Local 354 had an abundance of work, Utah Power and Light was starting work on new coal fired power plants in two locations. The first Huntington unit was started in 1972, a second unit was being built at the Huntington site, these plants still operate in Emery County.

Our members are currently working on the Huntington, Hunter plants and IPP coal fired power plants.

In 1978 Local 354 had 76 retirees’, as of 2007 we have 340 retired members. This is also the year that Local 354 graduated its first female wireman, Phoebe Smith Bergvall.

IBEW Local 217, OGDEN - now called the Northern Unit was Chartered November 30, 1927 – amalgamated 147 members into IBEW Local 354 on September 1, 1983 by International President Charles H. Pillard (I.P. from 1968 to 1986).

IBEW Local 354 still holds satellite meetings in the Northern area, currently at Motel 6 in Ogden on River- dale Road at 7:00 pm monthly on the first Thursday.

The first Business Manager of 217 was T.E. Meyers (1927) and the last Business Manager at amalgamation was Paul S. George (1983) the current Northern Unit Chair- man is Brother Gary Satterfield.

IBEW Local 1081, BINGHAM CANYON - now called the Kennecott Unit was chartered on May 1, 1941 - amalgamated into IBEW Local 354 on July 1, 1988 by International President J.J. Barry (I.P. from 1986 to 2001).

The first Business Manager of Local 1081 was Henry Johnson and the last Business Manager at amalgamation was Arthur Don Beals.

Local 354 celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 1982 at Lagoon with the Annual Summer picnic. This party is always well attended, and the 1982 celebration was no exception. Many of our members were working at the Intermountain Power Project, IPP, in Delta and the Bonanza Power Plant in Vernal.

In July 1983 at the annual Provo Unit stag party long time Business Manager, Jack Anderson announced it would be his last meeting as Business Manager as he has accepted a position as administrative assistant for the 8th District under the new 8th District Vice-President Jon F. Walters, former Business Manager of Local 449 in Pocatello, Idaho.

In 1986 Les Miller was elected Business Manager of Local 354 this is the same year the Local elected the first woman to an executive board position. Julie Leroy was elected as Recording Secretary and Les Miller, the new Business Manager, asked her to be his Assistant Business Manager, she accepted and became a driving force for the good of the local under Brother Les Miller’s administration.

By 1987 our local retiree’s had increased to 196, around this time it was decided to hold a Christmas dinner for the retirees and deliver the annual gift of a fruit basket to those in the area who could not make it to the dinner.

In 1988 the work was slow, and many members were on the road. The same year the AFL-CIO sponsored a well-attended retiree’s political action committee in an effort to change Utah politics. There were 220 retired union members, 19 of which were from the IBEW.

In 1989 a law was passed by the Utah legislature requiring an electrician working in Utah maintain a Utah State license to do electrical work.

In 1990 work was slow but the negotiations did produce a wage increase on the low scale, the first time in several years that we did not have to give something back.

1992 work was beginning to pick up and we were employing travelers again, there was work on a new smelter at Kennecott which 50% of it was going to Union contractors. Kim Barraclough was hired as Organizer to replace retiring Organizer Charles (Chick) Howard.

There was work going on at the local oil refineries, the copper top building, and a number of other commercial projects along the Wasatch Front.

In 1994 Local Union 354 purchased a new building. Located at 3400 West 2100 South, this building and the land that came with it gave the members an updated place to call home. The JATC moved into the new building in 1995. We built an additional building behind the Union Hall in 1997 which houses our Credit Union and a larger meeting hall for the IBEW Local 354 members.

In 1995 we had plenty of work, members were employed on the new Salt Palace, the Burn Plant in Dugway, the new Shriners Hospital, the Discover Card building, and the new City County Building. This was named the Matheson Courthouse after Utah’s finest Democratic Governor, who served Utah from 1975 to 1985. He was also chairman of the Democratic Party after leaving the governor’s office.

Around 1995 Local 354 also started a Voice Data Video Unit.  This Unit began with a handful of members, today the Unit Chairman Mike Meredith leads a unit of 145 “A” and “BA” members.

These members install network infrastructure ca- bling, phones, computers and fiber optics in data centers, hospitals, call centers and Intel/Micron Flash Technologies, or IMFT as we know it today. Other members work on cell towers or install security cameras and systems.

1995 Micron began a microchip manufacturing plant in Lehi. By 1996 they had put the brakes on this project. But, the members were still fully employed with the new Hockey Arena and a biomedical research facility at the University of Utah, our contractors also worked on the new dormitories at the U of U which would later be used for the Olympic athlete housing in 2002. We worked on the upgrades to Rice Stadium and installed all of power for the security cameras for the venues.

In 1997 the city was experiencing some major freeway renovations in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Some of the jobs during the 1990’s was American Stores, Micron, Hunstman Cancer Research Facility, The E-Center, the remodel of the Salt Palace, Marriot downtown hotels, and many other projects along the Wasatch front.

The members of IBEW Local 354 and IBEW Local 57 joined in an effort to light up the eastern hill of the Salt Lake valley with the 5 rings of the Olympics. There were 25 volunteers who put the lights together at our hall and then helped transport them up to the side of the mountain at the 6000-foot level; this climb was made on snowshoes.

After the Olympics work had slowed tremendously quite a few were working out of town. The Malt O Meal plant in Tremonton was one of the few jobs the local had going and many members worked at the ARCO Desert in Idaho, Las Vegas and other parts of the country. Work picked up in late 2004 and early 2005 with the work at Currant Creek gas fired power plant, Cabela’s, and our contractors winning most of the bid for the new Intermountain Health Care facility in Murray as well as Micron going back into pro- duction at the beginning of 2006.

At this time, we have full employment as well as several hundred travelers working in the jurisdiction.