IBEW Local 48 is ready to contribute $200 toward your next home electrical project. That’s how committed the union is to the value of union work — and the goal of recapturing residential market share.
The offer is part of the union’s “Qualified Electricians” program, which was launched in 2014 as Plus 5 PDX. At plus5pdx.org, you provide your name, address and other contact information, and they mail you the coupon. The coupon is good for $200 of work from any of the union residential contractors listed on the web site — no matter how small the project.
Since October 2015, 536 homeowners have taken Local 48 up on the offer, and the union has paid out $103,000 to contractors. Local 48 organizer Ray Lister says that resulted in almost $1 million in new work for union contractors. It could be as small as a ceiling fan replacement or simple repair job, or as big as a major remodel or new construction. Most projects are under $1,000, Lister said.
“Everybody’s got something around the house they’ve been putting off,” Lister said. “If our shop goes out there, they build a relationship. They realize we’re affordable.… They’re going to get a professional out there who knows what they’re doing.”
The Plus5PDX web site doesn’t mention the work will be done by a union contractor, but that’s what makes its claim of “qualified electricians” rock solid: IBEW’s joint union-employer training program is unsurpassed. And those doing the work make a living wage and benefits. Last but not least, the program also offers a 5-year warranty over and above the standard one-year warranty.
Local 48 is trying to get the word out about the offer through social media and through booths at portland home and garden shows.
Lister says IBEW members used to do substantially all of the local residential electrical work, but in recent years, as the union focused on commercial and industrial work, it lost market share in the small residential market. Lister thinks union electricians may be performing as little as 15 to 20 percent of local residential work. Plus5 could be a step toward a comeback.