In December 2006, Philadelphia Councilman Juan Ramos introduced an amendment to Title 9 of the Philadelphia Code, “Regulation of Businesses, Trades and Professions.” The amendment would add a new Chapter, “Certified Electricians and Telecommunications Technicians,” which proposes that electricians and telecommunications technicians performing work in the city have at least 10,000 hours of documented, full-time practical experience working on electrical or telecommunication systems and have completed an apprenticeship program.

Those who have owned a business for at least seven years or have six years of documented experience would be exempt from the requirements. Currently, the City of Philadelphia requires only one individual with an electrical contractor's license per firm. That person may then hire other workers, regardless of their training or experience.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 98, with support from the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md., backs the bill as a measure that may increase safety in what can be a dangerous industry. However, opponents of the bill, including the Independent Electrical Contractors Association (IEC) Alexandria, Va., argue that the legislation would drive up costs and hurt smaller businesses. Anyone entering the trade would have to put in the mandated hours and pay for a formal training program to attain a license. Some safeguards, such as electrical inspections and licensing, are already in place.

Discussion of the bill during the Feb. 27 meeting of the committee on Labor and Civil Service could result in a lessening of the requirements. For the complete wording of the proposed bill, visit the City Council's Web site at http://webapps.phila.gov/council/attachments/3150.pdf.