CFL News
March 27, 2018

IBEW Local 134 Makes its New Home in Bronzeville

IBEW Local 134 Makes its New Home in Bronzeville

What once was a former CPS elementary school in the 2700 block of Martin Luther King Drive, now stands as the new union hall for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134. Conveniently close to several major expressways, it became the ideal location sought by IBEW Local 134 Business Manager Don Finn.

Local 134’s original union hall, located at 600 W. Washington Blvd, was their home since 1954. However, in recent years, the structure became outdated and provided no parking for members. Instead of rehabbing the old hall, Finn decided to move Local 134 from its old location in Chicago’s West Loop to its new location in Bronzeville.

In February 2016, the Chicago Board of Education approved selling Drake Elementary School to Local 134, and so began the task of creating a new union hall and administrative building.

The administrative offices opened in November 2017, and the full rehab of the structure is expected to be completed by March 2018. With a new 17,000-squarefoot union hall, multi-purpose room and community center, the new building will be a welcome addition for the members of Local 134.

As Local 134 looked to make Bronzeville their new home, they wanted to give back to the community.

“I believe in reaching out to the entire community and providing a place that is all inclusive. I wanted to make sure that all of the residents felt welcome,” said Finn.

To help with the transition, Local 134 reached out to Alderman Sophia King to work with both residents and IBEW to determine the needs of the community. What they found was the community needed a free place to play sports. Accordingly, Local 134 set out to refurbish the original gymnasium of the Drake Elementary School to what is now the Terrence P. Allen Community Center, named after Local 134’s late Business Manager. In this new space, residents can enjoy a beautiful new environment to play basketball, soccer or any other indoor sport for free. Many after school programs and local soccer teams have already signed up for gym time.

With the new location and building, the community center is not the only benefit that IBEW is bringing to the neighborhood. IBEW Local 134 is working with its next-door neighbor, Dunbar Vocational Career Academy High School, to provide two full-time instructors to teach electrician classes. Upon completion of the program with Dunbar, IBEW guarantees its graduates a position in their pre-apprentice program.

The grand opening for the new building is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. Festivities will include a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, May 25 with local reporters, union leaders, including IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson, and local politicians. On Saturday, May 26, Local 134 will hold a festival, complete with music and food, to celebrate with members and their families. They will also dedicate their new union hall, named Memorial Hall, to every electrician who has ever died on the job. Their names will be permanently etched into the glass outside the union hall.

“I feel blessed to be a part of this new endeavor for our members. Great men have left me and our members in a wonderful place, and I hope to do the same for future generations with this new building,” said Finn.

After several years of planning and construction, IBEW now has a new home and a welcome place in the community.