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The IBEW was founded on November 28, 1891 in St. Louis, Missouri by a group of ten delegates representing 286 members employed in the electrical industry.

The IBEW is as old as the commercial use of electricity itself. It is the oldest, as well as the largest, electrical union in the world. As public demand for electricity increased, the number of electrical workers increased accordingly and the surge toward unionism was born out of their desperate needs and deplorable safety conditions.

In the 1890s, the work was hard; the hours long; the pay small. It was common for a lineman to risk his life on the high lines 12 hours a day in any kind of weather, seven days a week, for the meager sum of 15 to 20 cents an hour. Two dollars and 50 cents a day was considered an excellent wage for wiremen, and many men were forced to accept work for $8.00 a week.

Since the humble beginnings of the IBEW in 1891, the IBEW has prided itself on the participation of its members and the democracy afforded to affiliated local unions. Locals establish their own bylaws, general rules and policies in concert with the IBEW constitution, The locals have a full autonomy in the election of their full-time officers, table officers and executive boards and they negotiate collective agreements with their employers. The local unions are encouraged to set their agendas for the betterment of their membership and the IBEW.

Today, the IBEW represents 725,000 members internationally. The first Canadian local - IBEW Local 93 (now Local Union 586) - was organized in Ottawa on December 20, 1899 and the IBEW has 89 locals representing 61,500 members in every province and territory and is very diverse.

We represent members in many industries, such as utilities, manufacturing, construction, telecommunications, cablevision, radio and television, shipyards, railroads, sound and alarm, appliance repair, motor shops, sign shops, pulp and paper mills, mining and government.

For many years, the IBEW in Canada has been fortunate to have genuinely progressive leadership. John Raymond served as International Vice President from 1944 to 1963. Brother Raymond worked many years as an electrician in the construction industry as a member of Local Union 773 in Windsor, Ontario. He was elected as an officer of that local and appointed as an International Representative of the IBEW before becoming Vice President of the IBEW in Canada.

William Ladyman, a lineman from Local Union 435, followed Brother Raymond as International Vice President and remained in that position until his retirement in 1973. Brother Ladyman, since deceased, is well remembered in the Canadian labour movement as an advocate of fair play and a caretaker of the electrical industry. Following Bill Ladyman, and setting his own style of leadership was Ken Rose, an electrician from the railroad industry. Ken, known for his passionate speeches on behalf of the IBEW, was a true trade unionist and elected to the Vice President position in 1974, 1978, 1982, and again in 1986. Brother Rose, following a dispute between the building trades unions and the Canadian Labour Congress, was instrumental in forming the Canadian Federation of Labour in 1982. In 1987, Ken Woods became Vice President and remained as leader of the IBEW in Canada until October 1997. Ken had a passion for the IBEW and working people in Canada few leaders have matched. In 1997, Ken was instrumental in leading the IBEW and many of the building and construction trade unions back into Canadian Labour Congress after a 15-year absence. Following Ken Woods retirement, Don Lounds was the next International Vice President for the 1st District. As his predecessors, Brother Lounds was a great leader during his tenure.

In October 2003 Phil Flemming became our International Vice President, presently making him the top IBEW Officer in Canada. Nominations and election for this position take place every five years by delegates from our Canadian locals at our International Convention. The Canadian representative to the International Executive Council is also elected at that time. Rick Dowling currently occupies that position.

Vice President Flemming convenes the IBEW national conference held every year in various areas of the country. These conferences are called the "IBEW All Canada Progress Meetings". Discussion, education, and debate form the nucleus of our Progress Meeting to better our industry and enhance the participation of our members and local unions in the Canadian labour movement and broader society.

IBEW Canada has put an emphasis on general union education, organizing, involvement in union benefit programs, and encouraging local unions to establish committees on political education, health and safety and training.