A history of how far we've come
Though apprehensive about losing their jobs, fifteen charter members launched Local 288 in Waterloo, Iowa, making it the first craft union in the area.
The union presented demands to the Citizen Gas and Electric Company for a nine-hour day, a daily wage of $2.25 and monthly wages of not less than $60. The company immediately accepted the demands in what was heralded as the union's first victory.
Herald Hoffa, an employee of Citizen Gas and Electric who joined Local 288 and became active in the union, explained, "We worked six days a week, 10 hours a day and received $65 a month, with no time off or holidays." He felt an active union was not the accomplishment of a few officers, but the creation of the full membership. In attracting men such as Hoffa, Local 288 had constructed the lines for its own future expansion.
Ten members of the Local attempted to improve their status and presented Citizen Gas and Electric with a request for a written agreement. While the company officials rejected the petition, the movement toward obtaining a written contract had begun. The company gave workers a 5% increase, bringing wages to $4.20 per day.
The Iowa Public Service Company acquired control of Citizen's Gas and Electric Company. To achieve higher standards of work, craft unions sponsored classes to meet the Iowa Public Service Company's demand for efficient workers. During this time, the Local quietly and efficiently pursued its goals to improve wages, obtain job security and create an active union membership.
The union had grown to nearly 50 members. The Master Association asked inside men to take a 22-cent pay cut. After a two-week lockout and arbitration, the association agreed to a 2-cent pay cut.
The hourly rate for electrical workers reached $1.
The union secured the first written agreement with the Electrical Contractors of Waterloo. The basic principal of the agreement acknowledged that the contractors and the union had a common interest in the electrical industry, and that progress demanded continuous peace and working out differences using commonsense methods.
Local 288 adjusted its charter to welcome all men who worked at the Iowa Public Service Company. Previously, membership had been limited to linemen. These new members now enjoyed a pension plan, compensation insurance and job security.
Electrical workers attained a 40-hour workweek and wages increased by an additional $5 to $10 per month.
Local 288 went from a mixed local to being two separate local unions. The workers at Iowa Public Service Company became Local Union 944, and the Inside Wiremen continued to be Local Union 288. Brother Frank Stephenson became the first full-time business manager of Local 288 on May 23, 1952, following the separation of the two locals.
The Mason City Local 431 merged into Local 288 after nearly 24 years of service. This extended the reach of Local 288 from seven counties to 16 counties. Another change for the Local at this time was that it became a dual-membership local again, and went from an A type membership to an A and BA membership to represent the rural electric cooperative employees.
Local 288 welcomed the employees of Hawkeye Tri-County REC of Cresco into the Local Union.
The employees of Allamakee-Clayton REC were welcomed into the union with certification from the National Labor Relations Board. The vote tally of 22 was unanimous for the union.
The employees of Buchanan County Electrical Co-op were welcomed into the union. As a show of good faith during negotiations of a first contract, the bargaining unit accepted the employees' initial proposal. This group of linemen was more than happy. The proposed wages were higher than their settlement goal. Later, the general manager claimed he punched the wrong key on his adding machine and wanted to recant his offer. Thanks to the efforts of Local 288, the agreement stayed as originally proposed.
Members celebrated the 75th anniversary of Local 288. The event was threatened by a tornado.
Two units from the city of Waverly, comprised of public safety and city employees, joined Local 288. A desire for the bargaining unit to have closer representation was the reason for the two unit's memberships to be transferred from IBEW Local 55 in Des Moines. Local 288 was then certified with the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board, which governs public employees and differs from national labor regulations.
The Public Employment Relations Board of Iowa certified Local 288 as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees of Osage Municipal Utilities. The big issue for these new members of Local 288 was equitable treatment from management, which only comes by having a collective bargaining agreement.
Local 288 celebrated its 100th anniversary with a dinner and dance. The keynote speaker was IBEW International President Edwin Hill. The Local 288 Charter was rededicated and celebrated with a champagne toast.