Members of one of Oregon’s biggest construction unions have voted to replace an incumbent with new leadership. In mail ballots counted June 21, Garth Bachman was elected business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48, outpolling two-term incumbent Gary Young by 11 votes; the tally was 624 to 613.
Business manager is a full-time position, responsible for overseeing union reps, organizers, and support staff. Local 48 represents over 5,000 electricians in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Bachman grew up in Portland in a union household. His father worked at the Freightliner truck plant and the shipyard as a member of the Machinists, and his mother was a clerk in the maintenance department at Portland Public Schools.
“I remember my dad coming home on a Saturday soaking wet from walking a picket line,” Bachman told the Labor Press. “If the grocery workers were on strike, he would go and volunteer help them picket.”
Bachman’s interest in electrical work was sparked by a shop class at Benson Polytechnic High School. In his senior year, he got an after school job at Friberg Electric, and after graduation, he went on to earn an associates degree in Industrial Automation and Robotics Technology at Mt. Hood Community College. He became a Local 48 apprentice in 1989 and got active in the union after becoming a journeyman in October 1990.
One son followed him into the trade and is a Local 48 member; another is a member of Sheet Metal Local 16.
In his 30-year electrical career, Bachman has mostly worked at Intel, the last two-and-a-half years as an employee of OEG. For the last three years, Bachman has served as an elected member of the Local 48 Examining Board, which administers an electrical knowledge test to applicants for membership who haven’t gone through the union’s regular apprenticeship program.
As business manager, Bachman said he wants to make sure union representatives are be a bigger presence on job sites, talking to members and stewards to make sure the contract is enforced. He wants to improve representation of apprentices and material handlers, so they know their rights as union members. And he wants to work to improve funding of the union-sponsored Edison pension plan.
He also wants to implement “reverse book layoff” in which traveling electricians would be let go before local electricians who are members of Local 48 … if and when the construction boom ends and layoffs must occur.
Most Local 48 members work under a master agreement with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the union-signatory employer group. The current agreement opens up for renegotiation of wages in the next few months, and expires Dec. 31, 2020. Bachman says he’d like to push in the next contract for later start times and restoration of shift differential pay, among other things.
Members also elected other officers:
- President Wayne Chow
- Vice President Dave Jacobsen
- Recording Secretary Kennitha Wade
- Treasurer John Sargent
- Executive Board Christina Daniels, Marshall McGrady, Steve Hussey, Kat Smith, Jakob Juntunen, Paul C. New
- Examining Board Alan Davidson
- Delegate to the International Convention Scott Zadow, Marshall McGrady, Dave Jacobsen, Kat Smith, Kennitha Wade, Donna Hammond, Paul New, Steven Hussey
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