Local 110 was chartered as a local on July 29, 1912.
THE EARLY YEARS OF LOCAL 110 - A Brief History
Records indicate that the IBEW was organized nationally on November 28, 1891.
In Minnesota, from the handwritten minutes carefully recorded in ink on ledger paper, we find that a group of eight electrical workers began meeting in February of 1910 under the Local 23 banner. They met weekly, on Friday evenings from 9:00 PM to 11 PM as determined by their By-Laws. They paid the State Bureau of Labor a fifty cent rental fee for the Meeting Hall for the month. Cigars were provided to all union attendees. Considered a necessary business expense, $1.75 was allocated for cigars per meeting.
Brother Conoryer served as president. Banners and badges were purchased to attend the State Fair in 1910 to promote the union. A horse and buggy was rented for $2.00 for the Union to participate in the parade. All members were notified that they must attend and wear a dark suit of clothes, a black hat, a white shirt with a collar and a black tie. In addition, if they had one, they to bring their own horse. A fine of $2 was placed on every member who did not show up for the Labor Day parade.
Applications for membership inthe union were sent to ten prospects and six of them were intiated in the union in 1910. Over the years, about 9-10 members were initiated into the union monthly. By February 19, 1912 there were 103 members meeting weekly.
By 1912, initiation fees were $10 per member and there was a $3 fine for members who were late with their $1/week dues. Attendance at union meetings, every Friday, 9 PM to 11PM, was mandatory. A fine of $.30 per month was assessed if a member did not provide a proper excuse. Notices of delinquent dues were read and posted.
During the early years the union was the hub of a family's activities. The union sponsored Electrical Worker's Balls quarterly. The first Ball was held on February 20, 1911 and tickets sold for $.25 each. All members and their families were expected to attend.
Typically the union provided pall bearers for the funerals of members. The coroner investigated the many deaths caused by electrocution. To combat these early deaths, the School of Electrical Instruction began on February 20, 1911. Twenty members attended these safety classes. Anti-tuberculosis Society cards were issued to members as required by the state. From 1910-1913, the union lost 60 brothers due to illness and accidents.
Much of the weekly business consisted of disbursement of funds for sicknesses, injuries and health benefits to members, as the union was the only insurance of the day. A doctor's "certificate of illness" was necessary to recieve a sick benefit of $5.00 per week for a maximum of $10.
Brothers in "needy circumstances" could also apply to the union for help and the union contributed $5-$10 per request. There were 4-5 requests at each meeting. A $100 death benefit was paid by the union to widows of members in good standing for 5 years. A member was paid $3.75 for the loss of a finger due to an accident.
On July 24, 1912, Brother Fisher called the meeting to order for the purpose of electing officers for the newly formed Local 110 (Local 23 was dissolved). Initiation fees were $5 and the group voted to become affiliated with the St. Paul Building Trades Council at that time.
The Examining Board was formed in August 1912 and the newly formed Local 110 passed a motion to "support the brewery workers on strike in Milwaukee" and they wrote a letter saying that Local 110 was "refusing to patronize any saloon handling Milwaukee beer."
Brother Fisher, newly elected business manager, noted that only two shops employed only union men-Hawkinson Electric Company and Pioneer Electric Company.
Brother Fisher was employed full time on August 16, 1912, as Local 110's business agent. His salary was that of a journeyman, $47.40 per month. His contract required that he work six days per week, plus conduct the Friday evening business meetings. He was authorized to purchase a "good roll-top desk" for an amount not to exceed $12. He was required to spend Saturday afternoons in the field "collecting dues from members." He paid $2 per month to an employee to cover the office on Saturdays.
In 1912, traveling cards for members cost $1.00 each. Elections were held yearly and were hotly contested. Votes were very close and the results were posted. Frequently members were fined $.50-$1.00 for "improper disturbing behavior" at union meetings Red pepper sandwiches, beer, soda water, and cigars were served at union meetings.
A wage scale committee was formed and met for the first time on January 14, 1913. Shopmen were paid a minimum scale of $.40 per hour and senior journeymen were paid $.55 per hour or $3.50 per day. Switchboard men were paid $.40 per hour and all-around journeymen were paid $.45 per hour.
By March 1913, the initiation fee into the union was $15 for helpers and $25 for journeymen. The average income from dues was $160 per month. Local 110 had 150 members by October 1913 and the international IBEW had 27,000 members.
The first examinations for all members who worked with electricity were held on June 18, 1913 at the State Capitol. All Local 110 members were required to take the examination. All members passed the test.
By 1913, the cigar expenditure rose to $4.75 per meeting.
On Labor Day 1913, the St. Paul Baseball Club owner agreed to donate his entire gate receipts from the game at Lexington Park between the St. Paul and Minneapolis babeball clubs toward the building of a Labor Temple. All members were required to attend and instructed to bring all friends and family to the event.
In December 1913, salary for workers jumped to $.55 per hour and there was no work on Saturday afternoons. Workers were allowed five holidays with no work on Labor Day. The union paid out $170 in sick bebnefits, $100 to members in distress, and $60 to needy members during December 1913.
An electrical license was required of workers in order to work in the city of St. Paul as directed by the ordinance of March 5, 1914. By April 2, 1914, membership in the Local 110 was 180.
These early days of Local 110 set the tone for a genuine caring and concern for our members. Local 110 continues to work diligently on behalf of our members, to provide them with the best possible wages and benefits, to secure safe working conditions, and offer the necessary training to keep members safe and the most highly-trained and able in the industry. We look forward to serving our members in the future.
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