Construction Issues

Most frequent questions and answers

Safety First at IBEW Local 98

Ensuring the safety of our members at IBEW Local 98 is our utmost priority. We aim for every member to return home safely after every shift, reflecting our commitment to creating the safest possible work environment.

Research consistently shows that unionized construction sites, like those staffed by our members, are among the safest in the industry. This is why we place immense emphasis on safety training and education. IBEW Local 98 is a strong advocate for continuous safety certification and updated training for our members. We provide access to premier OSHA safety training, empowering our members to perform their duties safely and look out for the well-being of their coworkers.

The construction sector is inherently risky, which makes our dedication to safety even more critical. From the beginning of their apprenticeship, IBEW Local 98 members are ingrained with a culture of safety. They learn the importance of maintaining a safe workspace, not just for themselves but for everyone on the site. This approach not only prevents accidents but also enhances job site efficiency and sets us apart from non-union counterparts.

Partnering with OSHA, we uphold the standards set forth under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, ensuring all workplaces are safe and healthy. OSHA’s initiatives, including safety and health alliances, aim to bolster the safety and health conditions for America’s workforce through collaborative efforts with unions, employers, and other entities.

For more detailed information on safety standards and practices, please visit At IBEW Local 98, we remain committed to the safety and health of our members, ensuring they can return to their families safe and sound every day.

Understanding Prevailing Wage and Its Impact for Local 98 Members

Prevailing Wage refers to the standard compensation construction workers should receive on eligible projects within a specific geographic area, including hourly wages, overtime, and employer-provided benefits. These laws, like the federal Davis-Bacon Act, aim to prevent undercutting in project bids, promoting fair competition based on the quality of work and workforce efficiency.

For Local 98 members and the broader construction community in Pennsylvania, Prevailing Wage laws ensure that public project bids are fair and equitable, reflecting the true value of skilled labor. They mandate that wages reflect the local standard, thereby encouraging the use of local labor for community projects. This practice not only supports fair wages but also drives money back into the local economy as workers spend within their own communities.

The Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, established in 1961, underscores this principle by ensuring that tradespeople receive fair wages on public works. This legislation supports our belief at IBEW Local 98 that fair wages lead to higher quality construction outcomes and contribute to the financial well-being of workers and their families.

Furthermore, Prevailing Wage laws enhance the local economy. When workers are paid fairly, they invest in their local communities, contrasting with non-local workers who may not contribute financially to the local area. Research has shown that Prevailing Wage laws maintain project costs while ensuring high-quality construction, debunking myths that these laws inflate public project expenses.

In summary, Prevailing Wage laws are essential for maintaining the integrity of the construction industry, ensuring quality work, and supporting our community’s economic health. At IBEW Local 98, we stand firmly behind these laws for the benefit of our workers and the broader Pennsylvania community.

Understanding Project Labor Agreements for Local 98

A Project Labor Agreement (PLA), also known as a Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA), sets employment terms for specific construction projects. Unlike traditional collective bargaining agreements, which are between individual unions and contractors, a PLA involves a collective agreement between multiple craft unions and the project’s owner or managing entity. This setup ensures all contractors and subcontractors on the project abide by uniform standards, thereby streamlining operations, wages, benefits, and policies across all involved Local Unions.

PLAs have been instrumental in the U.S construction landscape since their first implementation in Washington for the Grand Coulee Dam project in 1933. These agreements, applicable in both public and private sectors, have proven to enhance project efficiency, ensuring completion on time and within budget. Key features of PLAs include a no-strike clause and a dispute resolution mechanism, providing predictable work rates and reducing project risks. Additionally, they often incorporate community workforce policies to promote diversity and local employment.

Importantly, PLAs:

1. Do not exclude non-union workers or contractors. Federal law ensures open opportunities for all, regardless of union affiliation.
2. Are not exclusive to unionized projects, allowing any qualified contractor to bid for work.

PLAs are tailored agreements aiming to foster cooperation between workers and management, ensuring project success while benefiting the community and local workforce.

IBEW Local 98 Members: Recognizing Employee Rights vs. Independent Contractor Misclassification

IBEW Local 98 is dedicated to ensuring fair treatment and proper classification for all our members. Across the nation, there have been numerous cases where construction contractors wrongfully label employees, including electricians, as “1099” independent contractors, a practice that significantly impacts workers negatively.

This misclassification can lead to unfairly low wages, lack of benefits, and potential legal issues, including tax complications with the Internal Revenue Service. Unlike regular employees, “1099 employees” or independent contractors, do not receive automatic tax withholdings, Social Security, Medicare contributions, or health and retirement benefits from their employers. Instead, these responsibilities fall squarely on the workers, who may also face penalties for non-compliance with tax laws.

Furthermore, this improper classification affects not only the individual workers but also creates an uneven playing field among contractors, giving those who bypass legal obligations an unfair price advantage in bids. It undermines contractors who adhere to the law and uphold worker rights.

Local 98 members, rest assured, are not independent contractors. Our licensed electricians benefit from the protections and terms set forth in our Collective Bargaining Agreement, ensuring proper wages, benefits, and legal compliance. We stand committed to preventing employee misclassification and safeguarding our members’ rights and well-being.

Misconceptions of “Right to Work” Laws in Pennsylvania

Don’t be deceived by the term “Right to Work”; it’s a misleading label for laws that harm Pennsylvania’s workforce. Across the country, the push for these laws is compromising workers’ rights by weakening labor unions, leading to the deterioration of quality jobs. The essence of “Right to Work” legislation is the abolition of fair share fees, which ensure that all beneficiaries of union negotiations, including non-union members, contribute to the costs of securing better wages, benefits, and workplace protections. Since unions are legally obligated to represent all workers, the absence of these fees burdens union members with the cost of representation for all.

“Right to Work” laws curtail collective bargaining freedoms, forbidding agreements between workers and employers that include fair share fees, thus obligating dues-paying members to cover costs for non-union workers.

The Push Behind “Right to Work”

Advocates argue these laws free workers from compulsory union membership. However, coercing someone into union membership is already illegal. “Right to Work” laws, in fact, benefit corporations at the expense of workers, undermining unions, promoting unsafe work conditions, and leading to lower wages and reduced benefits.

These laws are a direct attack on worker protections, enabled by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. The term “Right to Work” is a misnomer, designed to mask the harm these laws inflict on labor.

The Damaging Impact of “Right to Work” Laws:

  • Undermine worker welfare with reduced salaries and benefits.
  • Compromise safety standards in workplaces.
  • Diminish workers’ negotiation leverage.
  • Weaken and dismantle unions.
  • Are driven by corporate and special interest agendas.

Understanding the True Effects of “Right to Work” Laws

Contrary to claims of job creation, “Right to Work” laws transform decent union positions into lower-quality non-union roles. Data from the IBEW shows:

  • Wages in “Right to Work” states are significantly lower than those in other states.
  • Employer-sponsored health insurance and pension rates are lower where these laws are in effect.
  • Poverty rates are higher in “Right to Work” states.
  • These laws offer no new rights but significantly weaken union power.
  • States free from “Right to Work” laws maintain a stronger tax base and offer better economic support for their citizens.

“Right to Work” laws adversely affect women and people of color, reducing wages and benefits more significantly than for other groups. They also disadvantage unionized businesses by enabling non-union businesses to lower costs at the expense of worker welfare.

In essence, “Right to Work” laws do not promote rights or work; they erode the foundation of fair labor practices and equitable employment conditions.