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Old 01-30-2008, 03:53 PM   #1
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Question IBEW 134 and 150

Hey guys, looking for a little direction here. I am hopefully a soon to be Electrician here in Chicago. I applied for both IBEW 134 and IBEW 150, I was wondering if anyone from around the area could offer me any insite on the pro's and con's of the 2 locals that you might be aware of. My status for them is as follows:

IBEW 134 - I have tested and been ranked, I just got a letter for their Orientation on Feb 11th. The letter doesn't necessarily say I have been "accepted," but it does say that "start dates and times" will be announced. It also tells us to bring a $300 check and if we do not show up, we can not "start" the program. I am sort of unsure how to interpret the letter, am I in ? I believe they have a classes starting in April and June, the drug testing and background checks are not even an issue with me, I'm clean as a whistle!

IBEW 150 - I have tested and passed, I have interview sometime in April for the Program starting in June.

I am looking really forward to becoming a member of either, I am 25, married with a house and 2 Lab Retreiver's. My wife and I are planning on kids in the next couple of years which has really made me think about retirement and the best interest of my family for the future. She just recently received her Master's degree in Special Ed and is teaching in the Chicago Public School System which has great benefits. I have been fortunate to make great money over the last few years, but the benefits offered are fantastic.

I appreciate your help on this guys/girls and any insight on these 2 locals would be helpful if you know something.... In addition, I was wondering if someone could explain to me what exactly happens during a layoff period. I am familiar with the benefits and employer contributions while employed, but what happens when not? Is their a percentage of your wages you get while on unemployement? What happens to our health insurance during that time since there is no employer to contribute towards our Health and Welfare?

Lastly, if the Olympics do come Chicago how would it affect the 2 locals being that Local 134 is "Chicago" and Local 150 is a "Lake County" local... Would 150 not get any of that work although its just 1 county north of chicago?

Thanks again for the help and I hope these aren't stupid questions to you guys, I just like to make informed decisions escpecially when it effects my future.

Chicagoguy

P.S. I also tested for the Pipefitter's Local 597. Passed the test and interviewed yesterday. I figured I would apply to a few different Locals to give myself the best odds of offered employment, it looks good so far. Any insight on Electricians vs. Pipefitters?


Last edited by Chicagoguy; 01-30-2008 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:21 PM   #2
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P.S. I also tested for the Pipefitter's Local 597. Passed the test and interviewed yesterday. I figured I would apply to a few different Locals to give myself the best odds of offered employment, it looks good so far. Any insight on Electricians vs. Pipefitters?
Surely you jest

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Old 01-30-2008, 04:23 PM   #3
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Sorry M.E., not up on the lingo yet - what's a jest?
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:31 PM   #4
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Surely you jest = You gotta be kidding

I was referring to the question about electricians vs. pipe fitters. What do you think us electricians will say about that?

Seriously, the electrical trade is a enjoyable, challenging trade that will treat you great if you let it. I started at 17, and have never regretted a minute!

Good luck!! (And remember, the only thing dumber than a pipe fitter is an iron worker)
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:35 PM   #5
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M.E., Gotcha, look at that... I'm already catching crap and I'm not even an apprentice yet! I don't mind though - comes with the territory. Any response to my question about what happens during layoffs etc.?
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Old 01-30-2008, 06:47 PM   #6
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I'm a 134 Journeyman and I gotta tell you.....
If you had the choice between 134 and 150 you should go with 134. 150 is Lake county and there isn't even close to the amount of work in 150 that 134 has to offer. Cook county is HUGE and Chicago is a major advantage. Local 134 is one of the largest locals in the country. Obviously you have to take what you can get but if you can get it... 134!

If you get laid off, you get around half of what you would normally make, depending on your dependent situation. There is also a sub fund from EIT. Your insurance will continue for a period of time, I don't remember exactly how long because it's been a while since I've been laid off and I wasn't off long enough for it to run out, but I think it's 6 months to a year.

As for the olympics, it will be in Chicago and that's 134. A 150 member will never see it unless they sign 134's book 2 as a traveller and they probably won't get the call.

P.S. I live in Lake county (150) and I'm a 134 member. I know alot of 150 guys and most of them wish they were 134. Simply because of the large work volume within Chicago.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:00 PM   #7
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Man, I sure am glad to know someone is on this site from one of those 2 locals. I really appreciate your input - I completely understand what you're saying.

I see you did what I did and put Chicago, because I myself live in lake county. Where about do you live because I live in the Waukegan area... Does 134 do anything to help you get work further north in Cook County because of where you live?

My dad is Local 399 Engineer downtown and he said the same thing about 134. He run's accross those guys all the time and knows a few of them quite well I guess... They were actually the first I applied for and like I said, I have Orientation on the 11th, so hopefully that means something good - I am not to sure about their process.

Another reason I was asking though was because I had heard stuff like 134 hires way too many people for the amount of work they have etc., but I guess that may depend on the source. I do know that 134 had 1600 apply in only a 2 week application process in Sept., where 150 had only 350 people apply and they had applications open for 5 months... That says something in itself - I would be greteful to start the program with 134.

Thanks again, and who's knows maybe we can sit down sometime and I'll buy you a few drinks for helping out with some info, because I don't know any electricians personally.. I appreciate the help!

Last edited by Chicagoguy; 01-30-2008 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:14 PM   #8
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Anytime! I'm in Fox Lake, my shop is aware of where I live and any decent shop is gonna do their best to keep you from driving 1 or 2 hours each way for work. So mainly I'm working in northern cook county which is the rich part of cook, Northbrook, Winnetka, Glenview, right now I'm in South Barrington doing multi million dollar custom homes. When things get slow, there's no telling where they might send me, cook county is a big place and I've spent 3 hours a day driving . But the work was there and I got my 40 .

When it comes to 134 bringing in all those applicants, it's up to you to study and be at the top of your class, same goes for when they send you to your first shop. Every shop likes a hard worker and somebody who listens, shows up on time, and doesn't get cocky into their 2nd year. lol. It's up to you to keep your job, you don't have to be a hero but you have to give the effort. It's up to you to be the one they keep. I'm not saying if you work hard you'll never get laid off, but you'll get laid off less.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:27 PM   #9
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Thanks again Super 33, we'll have to meet up some time.. sounds like 134 did a good job trying to keep your drive to a minimum, but I understand what you mean about when times are slow. Gotta do what you gotta do to get that paycheck, and if it includes driving, so be it - if you don't take advantage of the work someone else will.

Hard work is something I am not afraid of. I attribute the success I have obtained at 25 to exactly that HARD WORK. I bought by house at 22 through hard work and putting in the time to learn and CONTINUE learning while always being respectful - I beleive you need to have that attitude regardless of what field you're in. I alwasy get to work at least 1/2 early and have no problem staying late for any reason. I look forward to working with people that will mold me into a GREAT electrician, because my efforts and dedication will let them know that they will NOT be wasting their time and money on a guy like me.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:06 PM   #10
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IBEW 134 - I have tested and been ranked, I just got a letter for their Orientation on Feb 11th. The letter doesn't necessarily say I have been "accepted," but it does say that "start dates and times" will be announced. It also tells us to bring a $300 check and if we do not show up, we can not "start" the program. I am sort of unsure how to interpret the letter, am I in ?
Any time the local says "Bring a check", it means 1 of 2 things:
1 - you're in trouble...you're not "officially in" so that can't be it
2 - You're "in"...that $300 will probably go for your first ton of books.
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:48 PM   #11
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Celtic is right, that check will be used for books. The first eleven weeks of your school will be unpaid. It is hard to live through, but worth it. If you can get unemployment from your current situation while you are in school it is worth your while. I have been with 134 since 2000 and have had a good run. I've been fortunate enough to work at some really cool projects, and downtown is crowded with opportunities. I've done a bit of travelling in 150 and have nothing bad to say about it. I could not, however vouch for the amount of work that they have.
Stick with electrical, the fitters don't look like they have easy work for old timers. Good luck!
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:23 PM   #12
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Goose, so do you think because I got that orientation letter with all the info I stated for 134 saying to bring the check that I am in? Like I said, if the only thing left is the background check and drug test, I am fine with that, in fact I encourage it due to the fact I would like to work in a safe environment especally around electrical stuff. I was thinking the same but didn't want to count my chickens before the hatched.... You know what I mean? I keep hearing from people, "well who did you know etc.," but I did this all on my own merit. Studied for the test and was fortunate enough to have taken a LOT of high math clases in High School and College which counts for something, but have had no experience. I ranked in the top 15% of the 1600 that applied. I greatly look forward to getting in, getting my hands dirty and learning as much as possible from the experienced guys like yourself and Super 33!

Thanks for the advise about the Electricians vs. pipefitters. I hope nobody here is taking offense to that question, but I know sometimes people wished they made different choices - I just want to make sure I am making the right choice!

I heard about the first 11 weeks being unpaid, and you know what, I understand... They should try and weed out the weak people so that they know the people they are going to provide a future for are serious about this gig, because I am! Luckily I have saved my pennies over the years so that I can afford to go through the 11 week process and take full advantage of everything I learn instead of stressing about how I am going to pay for my bills.

Thanks a lot and if you have any other advise or things I should know, please let me know! You guys so far are great....
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chicagoguy View Post
...if you have any other advise or things I should know, please let me know! ....
You've already learned the first lesson...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicagoguy View Post
.. I'm already catching crap and I'm not even an apprentice yet! I don't mind though - comes with the territory.

Get used to it...and remember the gags and crap they pull on you....in about 6 years you'll be doing the same to someone else's yam sack.


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Any response to my question about what happens during layoffs etc.?
Must have missed that...

As an apprentice, you are truly golden - (hopefully) you are young, strong and don't back talk....you could go your entire apprenticeship w/o a layoff.

But if you should get laid-off ...go sign up for unemployment - it's your money, go get it ...that's why it's there. You'll probably wind up going back to work before you collect the first check.
IF the lay-off seems to last too long for your liking(could be a few days, could be a few weeks)..go find a job - BUT NOT AN ELECTRICAL JOB!

Most would say I'm crazy for saying that...but think for a second...you are going to be an electrician your entire life (hopefully)...learn something else you can use later in life.
Get a job with some other trade...at some point, you'll be doing some renovation work and what you learn just might come in handy.
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:02 AM   #14
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Celtic, thanks for the advice! As I said before I am used to hard work which is why I have achieved the things I've achieved at 25, just in a different profession. But the principles are the same - show up to work on time (preferably before), be ready to work and be ready to learn. I'm not just willing to go through this process, I am READY to go though it, I only hope I have the opportunity to work and learn from good guys like yourselves......
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Old 01-31-2008, 06:51 AM   #15
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I don't remember exactly how the process went, but it sounds like you're in. Unless something goes horribly awry, you should find that you have a spot in school.

As for lay-offs: Celtic said it best, it is your money, go get it. I will tell you this: As an apprentice, I have never been laid off long enough to collect unemployment. The one week wait period was always enough to get me back to work.

As for the "who do you know" bit, I got much the same thing. Many locals used to be very exclusive. People needed referrals from guys already in. It was so prevalent in 134 that people think it is still the only way in. I didn't know any one of any consequence.

The last thing I will say is this: Apprentices are supposed to learn. There are many opinions on their other duties (see related app.thread) But the bottom line is learning. If you get to a point where a contractor isn't teaching you anything EVER and using you as a sweeping robot, call the school first. If nothing changes, make yourself very undesirable. Apprentices cannot quit their jobs.

Again, good luck. At least you've got the positive attitude down.
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Old 01-31-2008, 11:07 AM   #16
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Thanks Goose, I hope I am fortunate to get placed with someone willing to teach because I look forward to learning. Who know's, I know 134 is a big local, but maybe I'll see you or Super 33 sometime... I will update you guys as to what happens at the orientation and when I hopefully might be starting the program.

Thanks again!
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Old 01-31-2008, 03:31 PM   #17
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Chicagoguy, sounds like you're in. There's no "official" certificate stating such in case they see you on the evening news before school starts.

You're young and just starting out in life, let me give you the same tip I got at your age, you'll thank me for this in 20 or so years... You have a 401k plan - use it. If not, open an IRA. Today you won't miss 20% of your pay.


Retirement Saving: A 40-Year Journey

"Because of everything else our money must buy, we tell ourselves we'll save for retirement later--after buying a house, after putting the kids through college. Years go by and we discover there's little "later" left.
But consider this: To save $1 million by age 65, you'd need to invest only $85 a month if you start at age 25 (at a 12% annual return). If you wait until 45 to head toward this goal, you'd have to save $1,000 a month. That amount jumps to roughly $4,300 a month if you delay starting until 55. "
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Old 01-31-2008, 08:47 PM   #18
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LawnGuyLandSparky, you are a geat example of what I love about this country and what I think everyone should love. You don't know me from a hole in the wall and you gave me sound advice to help secure my financial future. I appreciate that greatly.

I have been lucky to have some good people in my life that have kept me on track and helped me save my pennies! Also, the last 2 companies I work for had company matched 401K plans which I tried to max out every year. I guy I knew told me something a few years ago that blew my mind, "If you invest $1000 and never add a penny to it with an average annual return of 10%, that $1000 will be worth $1,000,000 in 50 years." That's where it all began for me back when I was about 20...

Thanks again for the advice, I can't beleive the quality of guys that are on this site!
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Old 01-31-2008, 11:23 PM   #19
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That is great. In addition to your already great saving habits, 134 electricians are provided with two retirement benefits. One is defined benefit (standard pension) and the other is defined contribution (an annuity you can choose to invest in different ways). The really big plus, and one we are wrestling with huge cost increases on, is the medical insurance. Really nice coverage. The other nice thing, and I was told this is unusual is that 134 will cover you after you retire at 62 (if everything goes well) until Medicare kicks in at 65. So there are a lot of positives. Keep up the good work, and I'm sure we will run into each other at some point.
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Old 02-01-2008, 07:58 AM   #20
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I am saving right now with an IRA, but I would like to know what is paying out 12% interest nowadays...

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