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August 2023

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How 3 New Laws Give the IBEW the Inside Track for Thousands of Jobs

There has never have been a better time to be an IBEW member.

The Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the CHIPS and Science Act, signed by the President Joe Biden, authorize trillions of dollars for new construction across the country.

The laws maximize the benefit for working families by setting baseline labor and employment standards that give union workers a level playing field because it is how we do business already.

But the standards vary from law to law, and international representatives, business managers and business representatives are crucial resources for signatory contractors to help them win the opportunities we helped create.

Here are the most important standards built into each law that give a leg up to the best-trained electrical workers in the world and the contractors that employ them.

If you have any questions about how your local can help business partners take advantage of these incentives, email the Government Affairs Department at or call 202-728-6046.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Broadband Deployment and Transportation
99,000 – 188,100*

BEAD grants
The BIL, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, contains a $42.5 billion program to give grants to states for broadband expansion known by the acronym BEAD. The program includes incentives for strong labor standards and investing in workforce training, including:

  • Using a directly employed workforce, as opposed to a subcontracted workforce.
  • Paying prevailing wages and benefits.
  • Using project labor agreements.
  • Signing labor peace and neutrality agreements.
  • Local hire commitments.
  • Safety training.
  • Registered apprenticeship programs.
  • Standards that prevent the misclassification of workers.

BEAD also includes a requirement for grant seekers to provide detailed plans to develop an available, local and highly skilled workforce to minimize project disruptions. Such plans must include whether the workforce is unionized — and if it's not, there are additional requirements that must be met.

RAISE grants
The BIL's Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, grant program provides $2.2 billion for capital investments in surface transportation. The program, administered by the Department of Transportation, contains several incentives that encourage union work, including incentives for projects that:

  • Proactively address racial equity.
  • Create ways into the trade for people who have historically been shut out of the construction industry.
  • Make it easy for workers to organize.
  • Use project labor agreements.
  • Use local-hire provisions.
  • Use training and placement programs for underrepresented workers.
  • Employ a broad and representative group of procurement, material sourcing, construction, inspection and hiring companies.

RAISE grants projects are also subject to prevailing wage requirements.

Inflation Reduction Act
Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship Requirements

The IRA provides $270 billion in tax incentives for a range of clean energy projects.

To qualify for enhanced tax credits — from 400% to 4,000% higher under certain IRA programs — developers must ensure that:

  • Workers performing construction, improvement and maintenance on clean energy projects are paid at least Davis-Bacon prevailing wages.
  • A set, and increasing, percentage of labor hours are performed by registered apprentices.

CHIPS and Science Act
Incentives for Commercial Fabrication Facilities
7,020 – 13,338*

The CHIPS and Science Act provides $39 billion for investments in semiconductor manufacturing, a jolt that is already kickstarting hundreds of billions in new manufacturing investment in North America and creating tens of thousands of new electrical industry jobs.

The program includes several requirements and incentives that the IBEW can and should help developers meet, including detailed plans to hire, train and retain workers from:

  • Nontraditional, poor or historically underrepresented communities.
  • Communities that have suffered the most from the closure of carbon-intensive energy generation and industry.
  • Communities most affected by pollution.

The easiest way to comply is for developers to sign a project labor agreement. The law says applicants that commit to using best-practice PLAs "will generally be likely to produce a construction workforce plan that meets the notice of funding opportunity's criteria."

By contrast, applicants that do not commit to using a PLA will be required to submit workforce continuity plans and show that they have taken other measures to reduce the risk of delays in project delivery.

* These numbers represent the direct effect of federal incentives on construction electrician jobs. When you add in utility and manufacturing work, plus work spurred by related private, state and local spending, the numbers will be much higher.