History of IBEW 654
It’s 1938, and the Great Depression is over! The country is getting back on it’s feet. Work is starting to pick up, and Scott paper is hiring electricians. Seven non-union electricians show up to go to work. At the time the seven men had previously discussed organization, but that is as far as it got. As they were getting ready to go apply for work an Assistant Business Manager from IBEW LU 98 (Philadelphia) walked into the offices of Scott paper. The seven immediately knew what that meant. The job had been awarded to a LU 98 signed contractor. The seven were than told to talk to IBEW about organizing, they did and a IBEW representative came up from Washington DC and spoke to the seven. At that meeting they agreed to organize. The representative returned to DC and the seven waited, and waited. The representative came back with charter in hand for the seven to sign. The seven, who met for the first time on December 15, 1938 at the VFW Post on 3rd street in Chester as the Delaware County Electrical Workers Association were not officially known as IBEW LU 654 members. The Charter was signed Febuary 23, 1939.
Within a few weeks the seven held their first election. Jim Haslett was elected President, Lank Austin was elected Business Manager, Andy Olsen was elected Treasurer, Bob Stephens was elected Secretary, and Cliff Browning was elected Financial Secretary. With their newly formed leadership their first job at hand was organizing new members. The seven had met alot of workers in their non-union days and solicited them to become members. Their ranks swelled close to 250 men in the early 1940’s, but than dropped when work became slow. The membership met at 15th and Esrey in Chester at a building rented from the Carpenters. During the early 1950’s LU 654 purchased the Salvation Army building at 5th and Water St. in Chester.
This brings us to a time when most LU 654 members can remember. From the turbulent 1960’s to today. It seems that nowadays the scales are weighted more against us than for us. Almost as if history is repeating itself, but through these tough times we have stayed in charge of our territory. We have come a long way from hosting union meetings in our members’ homes to building a state of the art 22,000 square foot facility. From grabbing any little job, we could get our hands on, to building hotels, casinos, and stadiums. We must put the ideas of our forefathers to use. Organization, Production, Brotherhood. For these ideas will help us recapture our niche in the construction market. Over the last eighty plus years our local union has earned a reputation of quality craftsmanship and dedication throughout the communities in which we serve. Please, let us not forget the history of Local 654. We exist because of the efforts of the original members that had the courage to sign the Charter in 1939, along with the continued efforts and dedication of the officers and members over the years. Without all their dedication and courage, we would not be the Local we are today.
Our first Union Hall was located 147 W. 5th St. Chester
Our first officers: (standing) B. Chambers, F. Otton, L. Wheeler, R. Johns, H. Wade, (seated) R. Stephens, J. Dougherty, J. Haslett, L. Austin, C. Browning
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International Brotherhood of Electrical Worker
3729 Chichester Avenue,
Boothwyn, Pa 19061-3135
610-494-2820 [email protected]