IBEW Union electricians. A cultural study by Jessica Brown. What is culture?.
A cultural study by Jessica Brown
This is a cultural model, based off of Edward Tylor’s definition of culture: “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
Basically, our learned thoughts and beliefs shape who we are, and what our culture is.
IBEW, for short. This union represents men and women electricians. There are many companies that you know that are part of the IBEW, such as Cache Valley Electric and Wasatch Electric. Most large electrical companies in Utah employ union workers. My informant, Derek Brown, currently works for Cache Valley. He is a part of Local 354, which is the section of the union for our area.
The main belief that stands out among members of the IBEW is a strong emphasis on the Brotherhood. They believe that, because a person is in the Union with them, they are like brothers. They should be treated as such. This leads them to act like family, helping and supporting each other on and off the job site.
The main theme of the IBEW union is brotherhood. It is the belief that the people in your union are like family. One brother helps another to the best of his abilities. They stick together in every situation, from strikes to Labor Day celebrations.
Made in America
It isn’t exactly a religion, but some of the brothers take it just as seriously.
Weekends and Holidays
I asked my informant about things in his childhood and other experiences prior to joining the union. These are the ones he shared that helped him most with his current position.
Electricians at Work
These positions, generally, are ones that are more respectful to others:
In contrast, these positions display less respect toward their fellow workers:
These are a few things I’ve noticed in situations when I have been around a group of IBEW electricians.
This “bug” can be seen on almost every car in a union job’s parking lot. It is the seal of the union, and is basically sacred to anyone who is a member.
What it means…
These bumper stickers have great meaning to people involved in the union, and they’re free! So, everyone has at least one. They put them on their cars, their hard hats, and even their lunch boxes.
Studying the subculture of IBEW electricians has helped me to understand the mindset of working in a union. I has also helped me to understand some of the things my husband does!