International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
The nucleus of our Brotherhood formed in 1890. An exposition was held in St. Louis that year featuring “a glorious display of electrical wonders.” Wiremen and linemen from all over the United States flocked to Missouri’s queen city to wire the buildings and erect the exhibits which were the “spectaculars” of their era.
There was no apprenticeship training, and safety standards were nonexistent. In some areas the mortality rate for linemen was one out of every two hired, and nationally the mortality rate for electrical workers was twice that of the national average for all other industries.
No wonder electrical workers of the Gay ’90s sought some recourse for their troubles. A union was the logical answer; so this small group, meeting in St. Louis, sought help from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). An organizer named Charles Cassel was assigned to help them and chartered the group as the Electrical Wiremen and Linemen’s Union, No. 5221, of the AFL.
A first convention was called in St. Louis on November 21, 1891. Ten delegates attended, representing 286 members. The 10 men to whom our Brotherhood owes its life and the cities they represented are:
- Henry Miller, St. Louis, Missouri
- J. T. Kelly, St. Louis, Missouri
- W. Hedden, St. Louis, Missouri
- C. J. Sutter, Duluth, Minnesota
- M. Dorsey, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- T. J. Finnell, Chicago, Illinois
- E. Hartung, Indianapolis, Indiana
- F. Heizleman, Toledo, Ohio
- Joseph Berlowitz, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- H. Fisher, Evansville, Indiana
The name adopted for the organization was National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The delegates to that First Convention worked night and day for seven days drafting our first Constitution, general laws, ritual and emblem—the well-known fist grasping lightning bolts. The Convention elected Henry Miller as first Grand President and J. T. Kelly as Grand Secretary-Treasurer.
Local Union 130
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 130 was chartered on June 11,1900 in the great City of New Orleans. Since that time, we have not only helped build the city we love, but we have helped to improve the working conditions and standard of living for all electrical workers in the area.
In the last 100 years, we have built some of the largest projects in the area; those synonymous with New Orleans such as the Louisiana Superdome, the New Orleans Arena, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Lakefront Arena and many more.
As we recover from Hurricane Katrina and renew our city, our strong past will serve as a foundation for a great future.