Washington DC Chapter, NECA - Chapter History


At dusk on October 15, 1881, incandescent lighting arrived in the Nation’s capital on wires strung along Pennsylvania Avenue between the US Capital Building and the Treasury Building. The City that was emerging from a pre-Civil War backwater was experiencing a growing federal bureaucracy, a real estate boom, and a growing labor movement. A strike in 1899 by organized electrical workers – demanding $3.00 per day in wages – prompted electrical contractors to organize themselves for purposes of collective bargaining. For a couple of years, electrical contractors allied themselves with various other building trade employers for labor purposes.

Early in the century, the local electrical contractors aligned themselves with the fledging National Electrical Contractors Association, which was founded in 1901. The local companies were formally affiliated with the Electrical Contractors Association of Washington DC. One of those contractors, John R. Galloway, subsequently served as Treasurer, and then as President of NECA.

Over the next two decades, the electrical contracting industry struggled in determining which issues it would address directly – be it labor relations, “jobbers” (suppliers who handled installations), or code issues. The Washington group disaffiliated from NECA on a couple of occasions. In 1928, the city’s Union contractors (some of whom were still NECA members) re-incorporated as the Institute of Electrical Contractors of the District of Columbia. Subsequently, that group affiliated with the Electrical Guild of North America – which was created as a result of disagreements within NECA in regards to its role in labor relations. The Guild succumbed to the Great Depression of 1932. With trade associations’ role in revitalizing the economy having been established by President Roosevelt, NECA membership grew dramatically – and the Institute of Electrical Contractors was chartered as a NECA Chapter on August 18, 1933.

In the subsequent 75 years much has changed. The Washington DC Chapter NECA is made up of 72 firms which employ most of the 8,300 IBEW members who man hundreds of projects in the District of Columbia, five counties in suburban Maryland, and 41 counties in Northern, Central and Southwest Virginia. A comprehensive narrative and photos of the Chapter’s history is on display our electrical and telecommunication training facility in Lanham, Maryland. We invite you to visit the facility and review the colorful history of the Chapter and the electrical industry.