The Beginning of the IBEW
Henry Miller was a local lineman working at the 1890 St. Louis Exposition where he spoke to his fellow tradesmen. They found industry-wide problems and concluded that in addition to exceptionally high mortality rates of nearly one for every two hires, they could earn no more than fifteen-to-twenty cents an hour for 12-hour days. Wiremen fared no better. Seeking to act collectively, they turned to the American Federation of Labor and chartered themselves as the Electrical Wiremen and Linemen's Union, No 5221 of the AFL.
On November 21, 1891 a convention was held with ten delegates and the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was formed. At the convention Henry Miller was elected President of the newly formed NBEW. The delegates also drafted a Constitution and laws, and created an emblem of a fist holding lightning bolts.
The objectives of the NBEW; to promote reasonable methods of work; to cultivate feelings of friendship among those in our industry; to settle all disputes between employers and employees by arbitration (if possible); to assist each-other in sickness and distress; to secure employment; to reduce the hours of daily labor; to secure adequate pay for our work; to seek a higher and higher standard of living; to seek security for the individual, still stand today.
Brother Miller died on July 11, 1896 after receiving an electrical shock which caused him to fall from a pole the previous day. He was working as head lineman in the employ of the Potomac Light and Power Company at the time of his death. Having no apparent family Potomac Light and Power Company made sure he had a proper burial.
In 1899 at the convention in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania the NBEW's name was officially changed to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.