Chicago's rank-and-file electricians are up in arms over their union's latest effort to remain competitive in today's market -- lowering the cost of union labor. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers plans to add a new classification of workers who will not be required to complete the union's standard training program and, as a result, will receive less pay than many card-holding electricians. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is lowering the cost of union labor in an effort to remain competitive in today's market. The union's proposal, a directive from the international that will affect locals across the country, is not sitting well with many of Chicago's IBEW Local 134 members, who have said it will "flood the market with unqualified workers." Typically, union electricians must finish a five-year apprenticeship program -- 8,000 hours of classroom and on-the-job training -- before they are certified as journeymen. The extensive training is what usually separates union tradesmen from nonunion. The new grade of workers, who are called construction wiremen or construction electricians, will fall in between apprentices and journeymen in experience. Many journeymen are afraid the cheaper workers will threaten their jobs, especially with the local facing high unemployment. "If you start bringing in workers for 40 percent of what journeymen make, those journeymen are never going back to work," said a Local 134 member who asked to remain anonymous. "If the contractors can get it done for less money, that's what they are going to do." But Richard Murphy, Local 134's special assistant to the business manager, said the program is meant to create more union jobs. By offering contractors a mixed crew at a more affordable rate, he said, the union has a better chance at capturing work currently dominated by nonunion labor, usually "small" jobs such as strip malls. Construction wiremen will start at 40 percent of a journeyman's wage. Journeymen make roughly $67 an hour, including benefits. Union electricians fear IBEW plan will threaten jobs :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business ------------------------------------------------------ 40% of journeyman's wage is what ALL electrical apprentices start at. And this is how those illegals are worming their way into Union jobs at lower pay that don't require an education. I'll bet LA RAZA is already boasting that they will get the lion's share of those jobs for border jumping Latinos.