IBEW Local 305
Powering the Northeast Indiana area since 1912
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  • IBEW 305 History
    Posted On: Apr 07, 2020

    Sparks and Quills: The First IBEW Locals in Fort Wayne

    Andrew Hollins


    This document is a very brief overview of the International Brother of Electrical Workers and its Local Unions in the Fort Wayne area.  Most of the information contained in this document will focus on the early 20th century.

     Sparks and Quills: The First IBEW Locals in Fort Wayne

    The Fort Wayne area is rich in International Brotherhood of Electrical Worker History.  Much like the International Organization, the area started out at a very slow pace at the beginning of the Twenty-first century.  However by February1904 three Local Unions called Fort Wayne home.  The first being the Local Union 138, it started as a mixed local of various trades.  Its charter was granted July 12th 1900.  The Local Union 260, a shop men’s local, followed, their charter was granted May 27th 1903. They were followed by the Local Union 305, electricians, or inside men as they were referred to back then.  Currently there is no date available regarding the original charter for the 305.  The first officers were installed on March 7th 1904 according to the Electrical Worker.  By the time of release of the September 1907 edition of the Electrical Worker there was only one remaining local in Fort Wayne, the 305. 

    The Beginning

    On the night of August 6th 1900, nearly a month after receiving its charter, IBEW Local 138 elected its first officers. They met in a multilevel building on Berry Street, in modern day downtown. The results were as follows:

    President – H.C. Eckels

    Vice President – F.C. Cherry

    Financial Secretary and Treasurer – C.O. Lathouse

    Recorder and Press Secretary – H.E. Wineland

    Inspector – Geo. Wagner

    Foreman – J.S. McCorick

    Brother Yarbough from Local Union 10 (Indianapolis) joined the members of the 138, to guide them and offer a short talk on unionism.  Of the members mentioned one of particular note would be H.E. Wineland.  Throughout his tenure as Recorder and Press Secretary he wrote to the editor of the Electrical Worker often.  Most of his writings regarded the status of work in the area.  However, just months before the schism Wineland writes to remind other locals that linemen should do outside work only and wireman should be limited to the inside.  Prior to this missive the 138 formally requested to become a linemen’s local.  At that time there was no interest in inside work in Fort Wayne.  It was granted days later.  The limited scope of work sentiment was shared by many in the early days of the IBEW and would later play a part in dividing the organization.  In November 1906 the Local 138 was in arrears with the International Organization.  By September 1907 the 138’s charter was revoked and there are no other records.  During the seven years of its existence, the 138 only struck once; a five-day period in the summer of 1905 over a wages and hours dispute with Home Telephone Company.

    The Shop men

    In May of 1903 a shop men’s local organized in Fort Wayne, Local Union 260.  It was very short lived.  The activity of the local was so unremarkable that no company name has been found associated with it.  The Local was in arrears in November 1904 and was no longer mentioned after December 1905.  During its existence there were no know disputes stopping their work.

    The Inside Men

    Less than a year after the founding of Local Union 260, the Inside wiremen make their presence known.  E.P. Allman, the Third District Vice President, along with members from the 138 and 260 local unions initiated and installed the members of the newly minted 305.  Previously, the number 305 belonged to a local in Salt Lake City, but after reorganization the number 305 was released.  The Local 305 was the first inside men’s local in Fort Wayne.  The timing for the founding of the 305 could not have been worse.  Three years in and they are the only local in the area.  A year later the Reid-Murphy dispute happens.  Along with that and the many other social and structural issues that arise over the next 60 years the Local 305 finds itself on the wrong side of history.  During the Reid-Murphy era the Local 305 lost its original charter from 1904.  It would not be granted another until November 1912.  For the next five years heading into the end of World War I, the 305 is not very active in the Electrical Worker.

    The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has had both booms and bust in the Fort Wayne area.  Though some of the early locals never made it from their infancy, for over 100 years there has been at least one local occupying Northeast Indiana.  When you include the Telecommunications workers and shops like UTECH, there are nearly a handful of locals within the nine counties.  Currently the 305 is experiencing a period of growth, with work all over the country.  With such an outlook, it is possible that the IBEW has many more years to come in Fort Wayne.


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