The Pennsylvania Initiative

The I.B.E.W. in Pennsylvania has instituted a new program called the PA Initiative.

The goal of the Pa Initiative is to target and recapture market share in the commercial electrical construction sector. This is accomplished by creating new classifications of electrical workers with wages & benefits in line with this sector of the market. These classifications are Construction Wireman & Construction Electrician. An applicant must have experience in the commercial electrical trade and go through an extensive assessment process to determine what level he can be classified at and what additional training he requires. These “classifications” pay rates vary from 40% to 80% of journeyman wireman rate.


In the past the I.B.E.W. had two basic classifications…journeyman wireman & apprentice. This worked fine when I.B.E.W. contractors dominated the market, but as years passed and competition grew it became more difficult for our signatory contractors to compete in the commercial market. Over time our signatory contractors focused on the industrial and manufacturing sector, all but ignoring the commercial market, and in turn more and more open shop competition came on the scene.

The I.B.E.W. in 2006 made a conscious decision to target the commercial market and created the Pa Initiative. The bottom line is that a contractor cannot be competitive in all aspects of the market paying only the highest wage and benefit package in the industry. The Pa Initiative created a lower cost wage and benefit package and a contract that allows more flexible scheduling, reduces overtime costs and addresses all the issues where open shop competition had an advantage!

Now with this new agreement our contractors are having success in the commercial market not seen for years. We are recruiting and working with new contractors who were previously open shop contractors giving them competitive rates and still offering all the advantages of being an I.B.E.W. contractor.

What’s in it for the contractor?

As a contractor in the commercial market working under the Pa Initiative you now have competitive wages and benefits and enjoy the advantages of working with Local 743 such as:

o       No cost hiring hall

o       Ability to increase and decrease staffing levels as necessary

o       100% free movement of employees throughout region

Working with Local 743 you enjoy the ability to increase and decrease your manpower as necessary with one easy phone call. We have a manpower pool of over 600 experienced electricians with all levels of experience and wage rates from 40% to 80% of journeyman rate. This allows a contractor to call for manpower as needed and structure a crew with electricians of varying wage rates to create the most efficient “crew cost” for your project. When the project finishes you have the ability to transfer as many or as few of these electricians to another project or send them back to the union hall where they will be referred to another contractor. No more carrying excess manpower when work is slow. When your manpower needs arise again whether a few days, a few weeks or a few months later you make a call to Local 743 and can count on getting the experienced manpower necessary to complete your next project on time and on budget!

These individuals are also receiving individualized training specific to the skill sets where each individual may require additional training.

o       Ease of Growth

Working with Local 743 you will spend less time administering and more time procuring work. You have access to a skilled labor pool which in turn gives you access to new markets. You can grow as slowly or as quickly as you see fit and won’t have the costs associated with finding good experienced electricians.

o       Reduced Industrial Insurance costs

o       Reduced benefit administration costs

o       Reduced training costs

Local 743 participates in an aggressive safety program for all journeyman and apprentices.

Your company will have “one stop shopping” for employee benefits. Local 743 benefit programs are jointly administered by labor and management and allow you to cut one monthly check for all benefits for all employees. Benefit payments are reported in the month following the month worked and therefore offer improved cash flow month to month. How would you like to forget about administering your health care plans, pension plan, 401k? Let us be your HR firm at no cost to you!

o       More productivity

Your company will enjoy the advantage of skilled workers on every jobsite leading to higher productivity and higher profit margins. By utilizing our state approved apprenticeship programs, skill upgrade training for journeymen and skill upgrade training for construction wiremen and construction electricians your crew will be paid based on their experience and ability but have access to quality training to become more valuable assets to your company.

o       Higher employee retention

Access to health care and retirement benefits breeds loyalty in employees. For the contractor this translates into more skilled workers, less money spent trying to hire “money makers” and higher profitability!

So now you’re thinking….Can I afford to pay the I.B.E.W. rates and still be competitive and have the profit margins I want?

Yes…in fact we will work with you to create and maintain the “crew cost” you need with the most productive employees in the trade. If you want to remain in the market your comfortable with we will assist you to do that but become more profitable with less headaches. If you want to grow and venture into new markets that were not available to you before because of limited manpower we can help you to accomplish that as well.

The bottom line is that our partner contractors are just that… partners. The more successful you are the more successful Local 743 is! Whether you are a very small contractor or a large well established contractor, give us a call and find out the details. Local 743 representatives will meet with you in a no nonsense fashion and answer all of you questions honestly and accurately.

What’s in it for me, the open shop electrician?

In the past the I.B.E.W. and Local 743 had two classifications…apprentice & journeyman. When a non union electrician approached the local union about membership we tested him and there was one of two options.

1. You had the experience and passed the test and became a journeyman wireman.


2. You failed the test and had to do the entire apprenticeship program.

Many of these applicants were not journeyman wiremen by our standards but were none the less experienced, productive electricians. Many of these individuals did not want or couldn’t afford the pay cut to enter our apprenticeship program and therefore remained in the non union workforce.

Now, NO MATTER HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE you have we have a classification to fit you with a good hourly rate and excellent benefits. We will give you an assessment test to determine your skill set and identify areas where you need additional training. We will put you to work with one of our signatory contractors and offer you the specific training you need, at no cost to you. The starting hourly rates are between $12.45/hr and $24.90/hr depending on your experience. As you gain work hours and attend individualized training you will earn annual wage increases of 5%-10% and ultimately become a journeyman wireman.

We need electricians with all levels of experience in the commercial electrical construction trade!! Call us now. Find out the details of how you can improve the lives of you and your family by becoming a member if I.B.E.W. Local 743.


Ryan C. Helms

I.B.E.W. Local 743