Our members know about the Joint Electrical Industry Fund (JEIF) because it’s at the bottom of their checks, but not everyone knows what the JEIF does. JEIF is a joint venture paid for by IBEW Local 332 and our union contractors. Its purpose is to ensure labor compliance on constructions projects when they are built on public land or receive taxpayer dollars. JEIF helps to ensure all laws in public works and project labor agreements (PLAs) are followed. This includes that nonunion contractors are using the appropriate ratio of union workers and contributing to our benefits, including the apprenticeship, when on PLAs.
JEIF recently had a huge victory against Elecco, a nonunion contractor that wasn’t abiding by the PLA at San Jose Evergreen Community College District. We won a full $260,563 judgment.
Stacey Casados was the JEIF compliance officer on the case. “It’s my job to inquire about payrolls to ensure contractors on site are paying the right wages and using the right workers,” she said. “It came to my attention when I asked for Elecco’s documentation that there were no union workers on the job. So, I proceeded to do a full audit, IBEW 332 filed a grievance, and we went to arbitration. Because Elecco didn’t hire a single union worker, we received the full judgment for 1,698 lost union worker hours and 3,397 hours of fringe benefit hours.
“Once we go through the first part of the grievance on a PLA, it’s not unusual for a contractor to fight it and try to negotiate. But to have a contractor completely deny and refuse to follow the contract is rare,” said Stacey. “But this is why we do what we do: It keeps a level playing field for union contractors and ensures work for the membership.”