International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48 has launched a campaign to increase its presence in residential work. Known as the +5 Residential program, or Plus5PDX, it offers customers a service agreement that adds five years to the standard one-year warranty. The program also offers, free of charge: five low-voltage cable hookups, a $250 credit the homebuyer can use for future electrical work, and a Legrand On-Q Enclosure, which is a central connection point for things like intercom, camera, internet, and lighting control systems.
Plus5PDX is targeted at home builders or homeowners doing remodels or additions. It’s expected to be something union contractors can use as a selling point when competing for new business.
Indiana IBEW Local 697 came up with the idea, which has also been taken up by IBEW Local 46 in Seattle. IBEW’s international office is encouraging other locals to offer the Plus-Five program. Expenses are covered through the Electrical Industry Advancement Fund, which is funded jointly by the union and its contractor association, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
Just 9 percent of residential electrical work in the Portland is currently performed by union-signatory contractors, says Local 48 organizer Oscar Mérida, and most of that is in larger multi-family housing construction. The Local 48 residential agreement, which includes a union scale of $28.25 an hour plus $11.85 an hour in benefits covers about 45 members of Local 48 who are on its residential list. Thirty-seven contractors are signed on to the agreement.
“With a lot of people, as soon as they hear union they assume it’s going to be overpriced,” Mérida told the Labor Press. “But there’s a reason we get paid what we get paid. We train the best, and perform the best work possible.”’
The Plus5PDX campaign debuted with a booth at the Portland Fall Home and Garden Show October 2-5. It will also be promoted with yard signs and window decals. So far, 11 contractors have signed up to take part. The campaign has a web site, plus5pdx.org, and a hotline, 1-844-plus5pdx, where details and a list of participating contractors will be available.