About IBEW Local 575
Local Union 575 came into existence July 29, 1907, when the original 28 members sought to be chartered by the IBEW. The first full time President, then Grand President, Frank J. McNulty, accepted their application and chartered the local, assigning it the new number of 575. Many of the family names are very familiar in the community today, Gerlach, Hughes, Lawson, Lewis, Martin, Moore, Morgan, Neff, Oaks, Riley, Taylor, Thompson, Weaver and Wells.
IBEW, Local 575 was added to the list of unions already in existence in Portsmouth. Some of those unions are/were Iron Molders’ Union of North America Local 147, International Association of Machinists Local 404, Ladies’ Federated Labor Union #3093, Brewery Workers’ Union #140, Portsmouth Typographical Union #222, Boot and Shoe Workers’ Union #73, Bricklayers’ Union #39 and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America #437.
The Collective objectives of early unions, published in 1897, were:
To elevate the positions and maintain and protect the interests of the craft in general.
To establish and uphold a fair and equitable rate of wages and fair working hours and regulate all trade matters pertaining to the welfare of the members.
To influence the apprenticeship system in the direction of intelligence, competency and skill, to the interest alike of the employer and employee.
To endeavor to replace strikes and their attending bitterness and pecuniary loss, by arbitration and conciliation, in the settlement of all disputes concerning the wages and conditions of employment.
To relieve the deserving, needy and sick, and provide for the decent burial of deceased members.
Local 575 grew and were blessed with good leadership throughout the years. The one who gained the most notoriety was Gordon M. Freeman, who became IBEW President in 1955 and served until 1968. Shortly after brother Freeman became International President, the original job at the Piketon Uranium Enrichment Plant started. By this time Local 575 had grown to about 60 members. The “A” Plant, as it was referred to, was the largest job in the United States and at the peak employed about 2000 electricians.
Local 575 continued to grow and train electricians through our apprenticeship and journeyman programs and by 1994 our membership was 125. The IBEW decided we could serve the local area electricians better if they combined Local 575 and Local 88 in Chillicothe, Ohio. The Local number 575 was maintained and in 1994 the combined locals had a membership of 234 members.
Through aggressive organizing campaigns and those who enter into the apprenticeship, the local had increased to 350 members by 2004. Because of the collective efforts of our 350 members, Local 575’s jurisdiction has one of the highest market shares of the work. The IBEW and Local 575 is also recognized as a force for good works and political prowess by the community and elected leaders.
Today there are many challenges to our way of life and it seems that workers wages and unions are under attack on every front. But, Local 575 did not get to where it is today by failing to stand up to the challenge. Hope is not a strategy for confronting a challenge nor is luck something we will base our future on! The future belongs to those who work hard and prepare for it. The officers and members of Local 575 will be ready for the future.