Contract Immediately Hikes Wages and Boosts Long-Term Bargaining Power
By Jeremy Kehoe
IBEW 11’s Inside Wiremen and Intelligent Transportation members ratified a new contract with NECA last week that immediately hikes their wages – putting more money in their pockets right now – shortens the contract window for future negotiations – empowering members to negotiate even bigger gains faster – increases their equipment stipend, and also adjusts certain shift start times, which will push more members into a higher-paying hourly category right away.
After months of tense negotiations, 60 percent of IW & ITS sisters and brothers, who represent 8,000 of IBEW 11’s 12,000 membership, voted to ratify the new agreement on July 17, with 4,354 members voting in favor.
Among the hard-fought gains in the new agreement are a three-year raise that was more than a dollar per hour higher than NECA was offering and more than keeps pace with the decreasing rate of inflation (which has declined every month for the last 12 months and now sits at its lowest level since March 2021).
Other key concessions Local 11 secured from NECA were to cut the contract window for future negotiations from seven to three years, which will increase members’ future bargaining leverage; increasing the boot stipend from $125 to $175; and moving the graveyard shift start time from 8:01 p.m. to 8 p.m., which will move members up into a higher hourly pay-rate compensation category.
“This new agreement resulted in some significant gains for our members — from gains in wages to gains in strengthening our ability to negotiate from a stronger bargaining position in the future, to shifting our 8 p.m. start times, to increasing our boot stipend,” said Senior Assistant Business Manager Robert Corona. “It also included expanded language in our scope to shore up work in the prevailing Hydrogen field. This will make it more difficult for the laborers and other trades to try and claim work in our electrical field. These are all wins for Local 11 members, and we were able to achieve these because we stood together in solidarity.”
Members Flex Their Collective Power
Every gain in this new agreement was the direct result a relentless campaign thousands of Local 11 members waged to pressure NECA for a contract that delivers a fair wage that compensates them for the hard work and expertise they bring to every job site.
First, thousands of IW & ITS members voted overwhelmingly in solidarity to support a strike authorization, if necessary, with 87 percent voting Yes. That authorization was followed by an even more unified 91 percent who voted overwhelmingly to reject NECA’s initial, unacceptable contract offer.
Next, hundreds of brothers and sisters then volunteered to staff phone banks to rally fellow members and answer questions. Hundreds more braved record-setting heat to demonstrate in front of the ETI to carry signs and raise their voices and let NECA know their hard work deserves fair pay.
Crystal Herrera, a Journey Level Inside Wireman, was one of the Local 11 brothers and sisters who demonstrated in front of the ETI to send a message to NECA, which was received.
“We were out there because we work really hard, and we deserve a fair contract,” Herrera said. “All through COVID we were told we were essential workers, and now when it was coming time to pay up contractors weren’t putting their money where their mouth is. It felt like we’re being treated more like an expense than an asset.”
“Our members spoke, and NECA heard them,” IBEW 11 Business Manager Joël Barton said. “Every member should be proud of what we have accomplished together.”