History & Structure
The Largest Electrical Union in the World
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has been around as long as the commercial use of electricity itself. It’s the oldest and largest electrical union in the world, with a story that begins in the United States around 1890 when dangerous work, low wages, and long hours were the norm in the electrical industry. In many places, one out of every two electrical workers hired was killed on the job – the need to unionize was very strong.
It was November 28th, 1891 when ten men, representing 286 electrical workers, formed the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They had one objective: to make life better for themselves, their families, and those around them. Eight years later, the national union became international when the first Canadian IBEW local was established in Ottawa on December 20th, 1899. Today the IBEW represents more than 750,000 active members and retirees throughout North America. Members work in various sectors including utility, construction, maintenance, manufacturing, communications, railroads, shipyards, mining, government, and many more.
Local 37 is young in comparison to its national and international unions, but its predecessors, Locals 1733 and 2309, have a long, proud history in New Brunswick. IBEW Local 1733 was issued a charter on September 1, 1951 and IBEW Local 2309 was issued its charter in 1971.
In 1988, the two locals co-purchased our current headquarters at 138 Neill Street on the northside of Fredericton where they shared office space and staff. The two locals officially merged on April 3, 2000 to form Local Union 37. We’re very proud of our history that was built on a firm commitment to organize and represent workers in order to make their lives better. Our membership and longevity are proof of that commitment.
Local Union Structure
Being part of a large international union, like the IBEW, means every local benefits from the considerable resources of such a major organization. And its structure provides an additional benefit that many other local unions don’t have – independence. Each IBEW local has complete autonomy, which means most decisions are made locally by local members. For example, members of Local 37 elect their own officers, make their own bylaws and policies (approved by the International President), and determine their union dues.
IBEW Local 37
Local 37 has the autonomy and resources to do what’s important for the membership. This allows us to define an approved structure that will support taking care of our business and responsibilities as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Members are the highest decision-making body of the union. They elect our leaders, run for leadership positions, and approve bylaws and policies.
The Local 37 membership elects the Executive Board (E-Board), which is made up of 16 elected officers. This includes the Business Manager/Financial Secretary, four table officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary), and 11 member representatives (six Unit Chairs and five Members-at-Large).
E-Board members meet quarterly and works in partnership with the Business Manager to lead our union in the direction that best serves the membership. They serve a four-year term.
The members also elect a Business Manager to a four-year term. The Business Manager is the principal officer of the union and is responsible for representing Local 37 when dealing with employers, enforcing all of the terms of the collective agreements, appointing and removing all shop stewards, being politically active, building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the union. All office staff, assistants, and shop stewards work under the direction of the Business Manager.
IBEW Local 37 is divided into six Units (geographical divisions):
- 1. Central (Fredericton region)
- 2. Southern A (Saint John / St. Stephen)
- 3. Southern B (Point Lepreau)
- 4. Eastern (Moncton region)
- 5. Western (Grand Falls / Woodstock)
- 6. Northern (Bathurst, Miramichi, Tracadie)
Every four years, each Unit elects a Chairperson who also serves as an Executive Board Member. Units hold regular meetings (monthly or bimonthly) that provide members an opportunity to discuss workplace concerns, get updates on negotiations, ask questions, and meet other members. Click here for more information about IBEW Local 37 Units