The Future for Union Electrical Construction

Leaders of union electrical construction, including organized contractors, are creating their future. Decisions taken and actions initiated today may well determine whether the industry survives. Commonly held assumptions may not be useful in shaping a new future. It is vital for those in the IBEW and NECA to understand the complex and dynamic forces that are changing construction. As a diverse set of potential future scenarios present themselves, decisions based on myths (not facts) cannot possibly help.

The Myths
This study wrestles with five myths about union electrical construction’s future. IBEW and NECA leaders need to understand both the myths and the realities that can be obscured by these beliefs. With a clear view, decision-makers will be better informed, actions will have better results – and the leaders will create a better future for the industry. Here is a quick look at the five myths:

  • All union electrical construction will remain “locally” controlled. Marketplace forces are creating a more global society; geography may no longer be the appropriate organizing method. Reorganizing lines of authority and reporting structures must be considered.
  • Unions will continue to have a significant influence in the marketplace and society.  Unions simply cannot rely on the success of the past 100 years to ensure their survival. How well union advantages on various issues are articulated will help drive survival.
  • Union electrical construction will always have a training advantage over non-union electrical construction. Flexibility is now the key. The ability to train – and retrain – quickly, on the jobsite, is a must.
  • Pay scales are fixed and cannot be changed. Technologies make this approach obsolete. The marketplace will dictate changes to it.
  • Both IBEW and NECA contractors will continue to share a common vision for growth of the industry. The IBEW must aggressively target the Spanish-speaking labor market, while NECA contractor must do their share to grow the ranks of union contractors.



Atul Dighe


The Institute for Alternative Futures

Publication Date:

February 2006

Format & Size:

Soft cover; vii and 20 pages

Index Number:


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