The first convention of the “National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers” was called on November 21, 1891, with ten delegates representing 286 members, and was chartered by the AFL in December of 1891. The IBEW was founded by lineman Henry Miller, and the rest is history.
On June 6, 1940, some 49 years later, IBEW Local 1186 was issued its charter here in Honolulu, Hawaii by then International President D.W. Tracy. It was issued to 19 civil service electricians employed at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard now called Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.
The President then was William F. Learned, and in 1941 Myron B. Keeton became the Business Manager. Their meetings were held at the American Legion Hall on Kapiolani Blvd. About this time the bulk of the work was with or in government jobs and work in the private sector was limited to a handful of Contractors such as Aruda, Takai, Morishige, and Hiramoto, some of which their family names continue today.
In 1941, there were 295 members, and in 1945, pay was around $1.65 per hour and dues were $5 a month. It wasn’t until the mid 50’s when things started to pick up. Akito “Blackie” Fujikawa became the Business Manager/Financial Secretary in 1952. Membership was up to 616 in 1950, and pay was around $2.00 per hour and there were 16 Electrical Shops under contract.
In 1960 (membership 1,012 in 1962), the first Industry wide master agreement in construction between the Contractors Association and IBEW, Carpenters, and the Laborers Union was made.
In 1963 the Metal Trades Council (MTC) at PHNSY was recognized after years of campaigning and employer resistance. Today, IBEW member Don Bongo is the President of the MTC.
On June 22, 1966 the Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council (HBCTC) was chartered by the AFL-CIO’s Construction Trades Department. The HBCTC currently has 17 affiliated Unions. IBEW Local 1186 Membership in 1970 went up to 2,490.
Blackie Fujikawa then took a trip to New York to visit IBEW Local 3, and upon his return, because of his persistent dedication to good principles of unionism and sincere concern for the welfare of the members and their families, he started our union’s first benefits such as Pension, Annuity, and Health & Welfare. Soon other Trades followed suit and today we still enjoy those benefits and more, like Vacation/Holiday, Training, and Sub Unemployment. Membership in 1982 went up 3,256 members. Blackie Fujikawa remained in office until his untimely death in 1983 at the age of 64, making him the longest reigning Business Manager to date for our Local.
From 1960 to 1983 our membership went from 1,012 to 3,256. Then In September 1984, IBEW Local 1186 along with the Carpenters, Local 745, went on strike against the General Contractors Association, bringing the construction industry to a complete halt for 16 weeks.
Our total membership in the year 2000 was around 2,523. In 2011, membership was at 3,097 and the Henry Miller Award was given to Local 1186 for increasing membership by 12.5% in five years. Currently, IBEW Local 1186 represents Electricians, Telecommunications, Oceanic Time Warner Cable employees (both blue and white collar workers), and civilian positions on the military bases. With approximately 120 Signatory Contractors, almost three-quarters of all electrical work in the State of Hawaii is done by IBEW Local 1186.
EDITED 10/1/20: Today’s membership total in IBEW Local 1186 is up to 3,236 strong.
In 1980, The Maui Office was run by Business Agent Galo Kimura, and was located on Vineyard Street in Wailuku. In 1984 Galo Kimura retired and Lew Shimabuku took over as the Business Agent, and the office moved to Hookahi Street. In 1995, Lew passed away at the age of 44. Tommy Lau Hee was then appointed to Business Agent and the office was moved down the street to another building. Tommy started doing a lot of Political fundraisers and charitable fundraisers as well, helping them raise money with his famous “Lau Hee Chicken Hekka.” Tommy retired in 2005 with more than 40 years in the Union. Ray Shimabuku, Lew’s Brother, was and is the Business Agent for Maui and still carries on the tradition of helping in the community. We recently built a new 8000 square foot training and Union facility. EDIT 10/1/20: Today, Maui’s members total 231.
Kauai was run by Business Agent Paul Sialana, and its office was on Rice Street. After Sialana retired, Donald Nishimura was the business agent for Kauai and helped Oahu as well, until 2002. From 2002 – 2007, Damien Kim was the business agent, followed in 2008 by Richard Jose, who welcomed the challenge and took over as Business Agent, and continues to serve the Garden Isle. EDIT 10/1/20: Today, Kauai’s membership is around 108.
There were four offices located in Hilo over the years and in Kona at one point, a shared office with the Carpenter’s Union. In 1971 Blackie Narimatsu was the first Business Agent for the Big Island. After Blackie retired, Paul Sialana took over for awhile up until George Gibo became the Business Agent on the Big island from 1986 until 2002. From 2002-2007, Damien Kim was the Business Agent. Starting in 2007 until present time, Donn dela Cruz is the Business Agent. EDIT 10/1/20: Today, the Big Island’s membership is around 170.