The International Brotherhood of Electric Workers was founded in 1890. This Union is the largest electrical workers union to date in the United States. The IBEW supported women workers as early as the late 1890’s as telephone switchboard operators and even had a woman president of the telephone operator’s department shortly thereafter. The company has always been headquartered in Washington D.C and remained in the very same spot from 1929-1971 when they were forced to move to a larger building where they stayed until 2005. Today they are located at 900 Seventh Street N.W in the east end of Washington D.C. (http://www.ibew.org).
IBEW has had its rough spots throughout history. There have been times when memberships have dropped, but they have always been one to rebound after hard times. At this day in time they hold strong at 750,000 members strong across the Nation. At one point in time, the IBEW had over 1 million paying members. Each year the Union holds the “Convention of the Brotherhood” and one of the very first was in Louisville, Kentucky in 1905. Some other notable dates for the IBEW are:
1892: First women members admitted into NBEW
1896: First woman organizer appointed
1897: First woman delegate sent to the National Convention
While we can not conclusively say that the IBEW had women’s best interests at heart, we can say that women were allowed to play a role in the union’s efforts.