IBEW Electricians are cattle …. The truth ….Can you handle it?

I am a member of the IBEW in construction , wow I hope I don’t get some retaliation for this one. The IBEW is a labor Organization (UNION) that organizes the hearts and minds of electricians and in general all workers that work in the electrical industry.

I am a graduate of their apprentice school (5 years long)so I have been able to see alot of what is going on. When I started it seemed like a good job 5 days a week 7-330 weekends off, all I had to do was stay alive and make 5 years.I had a new daughter and wanted to spend more time with her ( I worked in protective services before that and you work all of the time when every one else doesn’t , bad guys don’t take days off). So I went into it wanting to make a new start.

Well My first day on the job didn’t seem bad , I didn’t know the first thing about this shit but it was still better than where I came from. It was a big construction site with all of the characters you would expect too see at the bottom of the barrel. As the years passed I noticed you always had different people but there would be these same characters. The old guy(s), the pot smokers, the drug dealers (whatever you want), the new guys , the appretices, the foreman ( super stressed), company owners, women you probably will never see again, and journeyman electricians (or mechanics). I have to say at the outset that life on the road is not a box of chocolates it’s more like being on tour in rock band and I loved it for the most part ,actually. I got to see alot of the country with alot of people and make a shit load of money.

But It doesn’t last forever and at somepoint you get tired of it . Here’s how it really goes down , you get laid off or drag up on a job(quit) and hang out at the house until you get a call from a road partner. He’s usually someone you’ve been on the road with before and he lets you know theres a job in say Boston working 12’s , but you have to leave now or you miss out. Thats cool cause if you try to look for a job on the IBEW job board it’s gonna be tough.First off not all of the locals paticipate in the web site so unless you contact these locals by phone you are not gonna know where the work is . Some are great, staffed by folks who know you ain’t got shit and you’re far from any kind of support so at least they don’t give you a hard time on the phone.Others leave a recording but what you don’t know is it may appear as though it is updated but the fact is, is that jobs are going out and since you are not one of the good ol’ boys you don’t get a personal call from the business agent (low life that ruthlessly stepped on everyone to get elected to where they are). They think they are better than you so they are not polite when you ask to speak to them, oh and it does depend on where you are from too,if you are from a New york local you probably are gonna get a pretty good job in another local of your choice. See you scratch by balls and I’ll scratch yours kind of relationships are going on on that level.

Any way you’ve gotten the call , you know where to go, and you are off to be employed. You arrive after driving 15-20 hours and try to get a room so you can get some sleep because you’ve probably been awake for 30+ hours already . At some point you wake up and start looking for the Union Hall this can be difficult, they are not labeled like holiday inns or anything( mapquest helps). So after you have come all of this way you still don’t have a job and now that you’ve found the local you go inside to see what yuour prospects are.That is if they even let you sign what’s called book 2.The Book system is a way for people out of a particular local to be shown favoritism . If you are part of that local you go to book I if you are from another IBEW local you go to book II, and God help ya if you are on anything further than that. Some locals have more books that they can categoize you and put you where on the list they please….and there is nothing you can do about it.

LIST? Ok cats outta the bag after you’ve used a couple of hundred dollars of your own money to get to this point you find out theres a waiting list of 300+ electricians trying to get employment just like you.Is this sounding good yet?Just checkin’. So let’s say you go ahead and become #301, you then learn you can leave but you need to be be back in person to show you still wat a job in say,1 month. So you show up ,make the same trip again and find out you are only 250. So since you are there you go ahead and sign hoping to get out soon, the money is drying up and you hope McDonalds is still hiring.

When your name finally comes up the job you were hoping for never really materializes and you end up on a job where the 1000 a week you make is just enough to cover your living expenses for that week , rooms are not cheap. Sure there are boarding houses but do you really thing you’re the first guy to think of that? Your settled in and to make it a somewhat happy story we’ll assume you are not in debt…..yet. You get to the job and you get to meet other Brothers from all over the place, they know your situation and really know what it’s like to be on the edge of loosing this gamble so they help as much as they can, good people, big hearts. So as the days go by word through the grapevine says the job will be going to 12 hours a day 7 days a week. This is what you made all of those trips for, what you took your buddis word for, what you’ve spent all of your money to try to attain. 12 hours a day seven days a week ends up being alot of money a week enough to pay th bills and send a “G” or more home to mama. you feel happy but 3 weeks of overtime and you start to look and feel like shit . Poor nutrition ,axiety from your living quarters ,lack of sleep , and worst of all boredom.It all happens at the same time it seems.

Then you start hanging out when you get off of work in the hotel with the other Brothers and these guys party , I mean party like it’s f**’n 1999 or somthing. Everything is there Alcohol ,meth, cocaine, pot , prescription meds. This ends up costing you cash you came here for, but you do it cause you’re not really happy when you are sober and bored and missing your family, you know whats going on and you can’t deal with that and work like a frekin machine. So now you’ve got somthing to keep you going but you always are on the look out for something new , you are already living like there ain’t no tomorrow and you meet a woman. Rather she meets you , always ends up that way with men who can’t say no. You know you want to and all of your buddies will think you are the man if you “Bag” this one . So the situation is as follows ,you’ve made some money , your using drugs, you’re bangin’ some chick you just met pretty regularly , and you’re depressed and don’t even know it..but you will.

This cycle goes on day after day week after week until , of course , all thing needing to be constructed are. Now it’s time to pack up and go to the next City of you choice and start all over again.If you made it through that you may choose to do this stuff for years , I know Brothers who have. I also keep in touch with the Brothers who got hooked on the booze , the drugs, the women ,STD’s and the children born out of those relationships. I was pretty lucky I didn’t stay in the game because I realized what was happening and the traps innocent people had fallen in.But it could have been any one of us that go out and make that kind of living. It’s pretty bad any brother knows this stuff is all true and happens to people they know so don’t give me alot of shit. If your in the game go ahead on you can have it , I’m done …..for now.