The Electrical Worker online
May 2014

Booming Silicon Valley Local Not
Sitting on Triumphs
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to

Albert Einstein once said,
"Strive not to be a success,
but rather to be of value."

The great mathematician's advice was probably directed at individuals. But it applies as well to organizations, like San Jose, Calif., Local 332, auspiciously located in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Local 332 and its signatory electrical contractors are succeeding in striking fashion, stacking up huge projects, from the recently completed San Francisco 49ers stadium, the subject of a new video ( to a vast campus for Apple Inc. that could fit the stadium in its middle and still leave room to spare.

"Times are real good. But we won't walk away from what got us here — projects like public school construction, where we have proven our value by working with NECA to get public support for using local labor under project labor agreements," says Business Manager Gerald Pfeiffer.

Two thousand electricians are working in Local 332's jurisdiction. Local leaders expect 700 more to be needed.

Apple's first complex, completed in Cupertino in 1982, tapped the skills of Local 332 electricians. The next campus project, estimated to cost $5 billion, and reach completion in 32 months, was personally designed by the company's late founder Steve Jobs to resemble a space ship.

The main building will be circular with a curved-glass exterior. The project will also include a 1,000-seat underground auditorium, an immense fitness center and a 6,000-spot parking garage. Apple is already planning to add a 600,000-square-foot research and development complex in the future.

Signatory contractors Redwood Electric and Rosendin Electric have signed a joint venture to supply electrical service to the buildings, including the simulated space ship, located on the site of a recently razed 2.6 million-square-foot building vacated by Hewlett-Packard.

Pfeiffer expects more than half the electricians on the project to be travelers.

In medical circles, Stanford University Medical Center enjoys nearly as much notoriety as Apple, making the U.S. News and World Report's list of the top 25 hospitals in 10 different specialties. But world-class doctors and patients are housed in facilities that are not up to today's standards in seismic safety.

Local 332 electricians and travelers will be working on a $700 million project rebuilding the center's hospital, clinics and emergency department along with modernizing and expanding the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the school of medicine. The new facility, able to withstand a major earthquake, will incorporate the latest in operating and emergency room technologies.

Two years into a four-year project, Local 332 electricians are supplying 10 miles of electrified third rail to extend Bay Area Rapid Transit service from Fremont to San Jose, the southern end of San Francisco Bay. The BART project is expected to limit airborne pollution by reducing automotive traffic.

"Ten years ago, IBEW and the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades set the political groundwork in motion for the BART extension," said Neil Struthers, business development specialist and education director of the Joint Electrical Industry Fund.

"We were standing on street corners and knocking on doors supporting political candidates and a referendum to fund BART construction," Struthers said.

While residents often oppose any tax increases, building trades unions won support from citizens and companies in the technology corridor who understand the need for more efficient commuter transportation. Winning a referendum on taxes to finance rail construction qualified the project for federal matching funds.

"Our region is quickly becoming the job hub of the country. That is creating new challenges in housing and education. Good union jobs with health care insurance and training are key to solving our problems and that takes sophisticated political involvement," says Struthers, formerly executive director of the building trades council.

"The BART job has a little bit of everything — high voltage, DC high voltage, PVC, rigid and EMT pipe," says David Kurze, a 27-year, third-generation Local 332 member and Rosendin Electric general foreman and site superintendent.

Running through the jurisdiction of Dublin Local 595, the job requires cooperation between members of both locals, says Kurze, who is currently installing wiring for train controls, wall lighting and grounding 30 feet below grade. The job will also include a service yard and transit park.

"Hopefully the new line will free up commuters on Highway 880's nightmare commute from the East Bay to the South Bay, opening up more avenues of public transit," Kurze said.

Also adding to the local's portfolio of projects are Moffett Towers, comprising 10 10-story buildings; campuses for Samsung and LinkedIn and new infrastructure for Stanford University's central power plant.

"The vital role played by IBEW locals across the Silicon Valley is a testament not only to our union's commitment to excellence on the job, but to creating more livable, dynamic communities where those who build and maintain our economy's infrastructure are valued and respected," says International President Edwin D. Hill.


Members of San Jose, Calif., Local 332 are engaged in a four-year project extending Bay Area Rapid Transit service by 10 miles.


'We won't walk away from work that got us here,' says Local 332 Business Manager Gerald Pfeiffer.