The Beginning 1929 - 1939

 In 2004 the NECA-IBEW Electrical Apprenticeship Program will be celebrating it’s 75th anniversary.  We have highlighted the growth and change of our program by decade beginning with the 1930’s.

DIn March of 1929 our apprenticeship program was formed through the efforts of The Electrical Contractors Association, IBEW Local 48, Portland Public Schools and the Oregon Building Congress.  The apprenticeship committee was referred to as the Sub-commission for Electrical Workers and was given the following directives -    “That the Apprenticeship Commission and Sub-commission of the Oregon Building    Congress as now or later formed shall have complete control of the apprenticeship system”.

It is interesting to note that our apprenticeship program predates the Oregon Apprenticeship Law (1931) by 2 years and the Federal Law (The Fitzgerald Act - 1937) by 8 years.

The 5 year program started with 18 apprentices who attended class at Stephens School at SE 7th and Stephens (now the site of a substation) under the tutelage of instructor George Pettingell. Other instructors through the 30’s included C.W. Hayes, A.M. McLean (former City Inspector), and Guy Evans.  Portland Public Schools paid the instructors and supplies and equipment were paid for through donations from IBEW Local 48 and the Electrical Contractors Association. By 1939 the program had grown to 45 apprentices.

School absenteeism was as much a problem then as it is today.  The committee tried a number of disciplinary techniques including monetary penalties, committee appearances and letters of reprimand.  Additionally, there appeared to be some question as to who really controlled the program – Portland Public Schools and the Oregon Building Congress or the Electrical Industry.

Contractors who were active in apprenticeship from 1929 through the 30’s included AR Johnson, M.J.Walsh, Huenergard Electric, Morrison Electric, Jaggar Sroufe, Hawthorne Electric, Harold Electric, Allison Electric, Sutherland Electric, Tice Electric, Greiner Electric, Kinney Electric (McCoy Electric), Hunegard Electric, W.R. Grasle, Grand Electric, Beaver Electric, E.L. Knight Electric, Paramount Wiring Company, Superior Electric, McMillan Electric, Friesen Electric, Montgomery Electric, Nepage McKenny, Electrical Products Corporation, National Electric, and Multnomah County.

The Secretary for the Contractors Association during this time period was J.R. Tomlinson.  Mr. Tomlinson was also a contractor.   (The Electrical Contractors Association changed the name to National Electrical Contractors Association in the mid 30’s)   Local 48 Business Managers were Fred Ream (1929 – 1930) and Joe Lake (1930 – 1948).