Intel Relies on IBEW for Expansion


July 23, 2014


Portland Local 48 members are busy constructing Intel’s new semiconductor chip manufacturing plant, the largest in the world.
Photo Credit: Used under Creative Commons license by Flickr userIntel Free Press.

If you’re reading this on your computer or your phone, you have local unions like Portland, Ore., Local 48 to thank.


Intel, one of the foremost manufacturers of the semiconductor chips that power our phones, laptops, and other electronic devices, is building what will be the largest chip plant in the world. They’ve teamed up with Local 48 to make sure the job gets done right.

“We have very high standards at Intel,” said Jill Eiland, director of corporate affairs at the plant. “We want to look for partners who are going to be able to deliver that same kind of exemplary work product.”

The plant, based in Hillsboro, 20 miles south of Portland, boasts two massive buildings with over 200,000 square feet of rigorously maintained microelectronic clean room space, as well as an office building, a manufacturing support building and a parking structure.

As many as 1,800 Local 48 members have been working on this project at any given time, starting with phase one of construction, the first manufacturing facility, in 2010. Construction for the second facility is now underway, with a total estimated cost of $6 billion and an ambitious schedule projecting its completion in 2016.

Throughout the project, Intel has praised the efforts of Local 48, comparing the IBEW’s Code of Excellence to Intel’s own core values. Local 48 Business Manager Gary Young agrees.   

“Because of the Code of Excellence standard that our brothers and sisters exhibit every day, Intel trusts IBEW signatory contractors to provide that quality,” Young said. And this trust works both ways: “Intel recognizes that while safety does come at a cost, making sure every worker gets home safe at the end of each day is not only the right thing to do, it is the financially responsible thing to do as well.”

Young explained that the demand for this project is particularly broad in scale, as it requires all phases of commercial industrial construction, from high-voltage utility work to low-voltage telecom.

So far, Intel is impressed.

“My construction colleagues at Intel are consistently giving high marks to the IBEW folks,” Eiland said. “Especially those who walk and talk the Code of Excellence.”  

The innovative technology produced in these plants has the potential to change the face of modern electronics. With its high ceilings and carefully constructed clean rooms, the facility will be the first of its kind equipped to produce 450mm wafers, a more efficient computer chip that could cut the cost of each microprocessor powering our devices by a third.

To learn more about the expansion and to watch ElectricTV’s video documenting IBEW’s partnership with Intel,click here.