In the midst of the tumultuous years of the Great Depression, men of vision and vigor came together for a common purpose in Durham, North Carolina. Their mission: in a disastrous economy, facing job shortages and crushing poverty around them, to ensure that electrical workers in central North Carolina had representation, dignity, value, and substance for their labor.
In 1934, a number of local electricians petitioned the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that a local union be chartered in the Raleigh/Durham area. Thus began a grand tradition of proud union workers in the electrical field in this part of the state. Today, the mission of our local branch is the same as it was back in 1934, when big changes for Central North Carolina happened in a little brick building at 410 ½ Main St., Durham, NC.
From humble origins, Local 553 has grown into an influential electrical presence in the state, and currently serves electrical workers from the Tidewater to the Piedmont. The American dream is built on the pride of the American worker and the strong middle class that came about because of dedicated union members. As such, we remain committed to tirelessly representing the interests of the electrical workers of central and northeastern North Carolina, and we always will.
Project in North Carolina - These members of Local 553, Durham, N. C., worked on the unit installed at Moncure, N.C., for Carolina Power and Light Co. This is the 7th unit that has been installed on Carolina Power Company property since the war. An 8th unit is under way at Moncure at the present time, scheduled to be completed in the spring of '58.
"Install Auxiliaries of N. C. Local 553
L. U. 553, DURHAM, N. C. - The members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 553, Durham, North Carolina, effected the field installation of electrical auxiliaries for the huge 125,000 kw turbine-generator for Carolina Power and Light Company's extension to their Cape Fear Steam Plant, near Moncure, North Carolina.
The turbine-generator, manufactured by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, has a name plate rating of 125,000 kw, but is capable of approximately 145,000 kw generation with 45 psig hydrogen cooling.
Switching and control are based on the generation of power at 13,800 volts and transmission by a system of isolated phase bus and 8 inch by 8 inch extruded aluminum generator leads, tied hard and fast to six inch tubular aluminum delta bus connections, at the low side of three single phase, 60,000 kra power transformers, that step-up this voltage to 110 kv. Stranded aluminum conductors - 1,590 mem - connect the high side of the power bank to the existing 110 kv switchyard.
The boiler and turbine generator (as a unit) are operated and controlled, along with the integral auxiliaries, from a tunnel (walk-in) type board with front and rear panels and front bench. Cable entrances are from trays below the board.
Auxiliary supply to the equipment consists of a 24 section, 4160 v. switchgear unit and 480 v. load centers at strategic locations.
Since this is an outdoor type unit switchgear, remote control stations, motor drives, pullboxes and magnetrols are of weather proof construction.
Electrical construction difficulties were enhanced by the addition, during the latter stages of installation, of a fuel shut-off protective control scheme inherent to this unit only in Carolina Power and Light Company's generation system.
H. C. Sawyer, B.M."
Freeman, G.M., I.P./editor. "Local Lines: Install Auxiliaries Of N. C. Local 553." The Electrical Workers' Journal, vol. 56, no. 6-7, June-July 1957, pp. 98-99, http://www.ibew.org/journals/scans/The%20Electrical%20Workers%27%20Journal/1957-06%20June%20July%20The%20Electrical%20Workers%27%20Journal.pdf.
(Special thanks to Eduard Koehl, apprentice inside wireman, for helping us find a higher quality image of the 553 electricians pictured above!)
Grounded in History
The IBEW's Historic Firsts
Asenath McLeod: A member of Durham, N.C., Local 553, McLeod became the IBEW's first woman business manager in 1991.