The Electrical Worker online
June 2014

Blueprint for Manufacturing Success
IBEW-Made Website Showcases Excellence

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IBEW pride and excellence. These qualities are packed into every lighting fixture, switch, transformer or circuit breaker produced by members of the union's manufacturing branch.

But what happens when these devices hit the marketplace? Will signatory electrical contractors and utility companies buy union? Will they buy IBEW? Will they and thousands of members even know which items are made by their union brothers and sisters?

Finally, with the May rollout of a new website, IBEW-Made (, the answer is "Yes."

Comprised of features unprecedented in the labor movement, the site, introduced at the 2014 Broadcasting, Manufacturing and Telecommunications Conference in Connecticut, is already drawing widespread attention from other unions and employers in the U.S., Canada and overseas.

IBEW-Made enables contractors and individual members to go straight to the catalogues of signatory manufacturers to review the specifications of their products and find out which retailers carry them.

New orders will help improve the profitability of employers, enhance the job security of members who have been hard hit by outsourcing of production, and help to organize new units in the manufacturing sector, says IBEW Manufacturing Department Director Randy Middleton.

"This exciting new website combines synergy and union solidarity," says Middleton. "It enables members in the construction and utility branch to stand by our manufacturing members while giving them quality products to work with." But, he says, "This tool is only effective if it is picked up and used."

"IBEW-Made is long overdue. It is a tool that gives mainstream America the chance to see what our members make. And it gives our members pride in being able to say, 'I made that,'" says Robby Evans, assistant business manager, Atlanta Local 613.

Evans is one of 13 local union members of the Product Identification Team that conceived the website, designed by the IBEW Information Technology Department.

"We're excited," says Anthony Esponda, business representative, N.Y. Local 3, another member of the team who represents members in several plants producing lighting fixtures. "This website will promote our manufacturing Code of Excellence."

Each product posted on the site will go through an extensive vetting process. Local union business managers will suggest items to be included. All products listed will be reviewed by the Manufacturing Department to ensure that they are made by members covered by active collective bargaining agreements. The site will also show which products were produced under the Code of Excellence or already carry union labels.

"IBEW-Made will help grow the IBEW," says Kenneth Ingram, assistant business manager, Memphis, Tenn., Local 474. "After getting authorization cards signed in an organizing campaign, we can go to a company and show what we have to offer and counter the stereotypes they may have about unions."

All requests for products and information from the site's users will be tracked. That's another powerful tool, says Chelsea, Mass., Local 1499 Business Manager John Horak, who represents manufacturing members in a few New England states. "We can bring those requests to our employer and suggest that they begin to manufacture items at home in our shops that they have abandoned or outsourced."

IBEW-Made is the main spoke of a larger effort to bolster the union's manufacturing base, says Middleton. Discussions are taking place with employers about increasing the use of the union's labels on products and "putting stickers right on the outside of cartons where every customer can see IBEW-Made merchandise while shopping."

"We hope IBEW-Made will be a template and a model for other unions to follow," Richard Kline, president of the Union Label and Service Trades Department, AFL-CIO, told attendees at the Broadcasting, Manufacturing and Telecommunications Department meeting in April.

Members of the Product Identification Team also include Eric Hoover, Beaver, Pa., Local 201; Doug McKay, Vancouver, B.C. Local 258; Bob Priest and Adrian Sauceda, Houston Local 716; Cruz Serna, Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245; Mike Bruening, Milwaukee Local 2150; Chad Donathan, Mt. Sterling, Ky., Local 2246 and Carven Thomas, Bloomington, Ind., Local 2249.


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'The IBEW-Made website enables members in the construction branch to stand by our manufacturing members while giving them quality products to work with,' said IBEW Manufacturing Department Director Randy Middleton.