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Index #: F3408

Next Steps in Portability as a Means to Improve the Electrical Construction Industry and Benefit IBEW Membership

The IBEW wants to increase man-hours and market share, as well as organize non-union electrical contractors. Signatory electrical contractors are trying to maintain relationships with existing clients and, at the same time, become more competitive with non-union contractors.

Reducing restrictions on portability will facilitate achieving all these goals. Using data and case studies from a wide variety of sources, including those inside and outside the electrical contracting industry, this report demonstrates that decreasing restrictions on portability, thereby increasing the ability of IBEW-signatory contractors to move key labor personnel to projects as necessary, will not lead to the problems predicted by those against such moves.

This report details the benefits gleaned from freer portability of labor. Ultimately, it shows that open portability does not lead to widespread migrations of labor from low-wage regions to high-wage regions. Rather, portability affords contractors the flexibility to staff crews more competitively while still primarily using labor from the local in which the work is being installed. This provides mutually inclusive benefits that can increase market share for IBEW and increase its potential to organize non-union electrical contractors.

This report follows on the previous ELECTRI report The Economic Costs of Portability (2012) which offered findings pertaining to restricting the portability of union electrical workers. The 2012 report is available at

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