Operational Cost Differences between Union and Non-Union Electrical Contractors

Unionized electrical contractors have been under constant and fierce market pressure from their non-union competitors. The IBEW’s market has averaged a 1% loss annually since 1973. Unionized contractors believe that the cost of labor is the main reason for increased non-union market share.

However, other factors such as operational models, labor availability and management, labor loyalty, material management, application of prefabricated material, crew mix and training also differentiate the two groups. While the higher cost of labor and fixed crew ratios for union contractors does increase operational cost, factors such as training, labor management and the operational model have a larger impact on the operational cost. This program will examine these factors and discuss strategies to increase competitiveness in the market.

This program is based on the research report A Comparison of Operational Costs of Union vs. Non- union Electrical Contractors funded by ELECTRI International.

Following this course, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the operational models, labor management and training differences that have all contributed to the open shop electrical contractor’s increase in market share
  • Describe strengths and weaknesses in their management and operational model
  • Discuss how to increase profitability using knowledge of advantages and disadvantages of union vs. non-union contractors
  • Discuss how to increase competitiveness and regain market share
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