IBEW 1245’s journey to its Vacaville headquarters began in 1941, when Ronald T. Weakley and other PG&E employees affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) launched a union organizing drive.
In those early days, there were eight CIO locals of PG&E employees in the Bay Area. None of them had an office.
“Most of them operated out of people’s kitchens,” Weakley recalled in a 2003 interview. These locals held separate meetings at various locations, and then met monthly in a “joint council” on Grand Avenue in Oakland.
IBEW 1245, which was conducting a competing organizing drive at PG&E, was active mostly outside the Bay Area, but shared office space with the IBEW International Vice President at 910 Central Tower on Market Street in San Francisco.
In 1948, Weakley decided to leave the CIO and join forces with the IBEW. IBEW Local 1324 was created to give Weakley and his followers a place within the IBEW to lead the organizing drive at PG&E. IBEW 1324 made its headquarters at the Sailors Union of the Pacific union hall in San Francisco.
In 1952, the IBEW amalgamated Locals 1245, 1324 and 50. Weakley became head of the whole enchilada. This new IBEW 1245 moved to Oakland in 1952 and was given office space by IBEW 595, the inside wireman local.
“There was no off-street parking,” Weakley recalled. “It was a very difficult place to operate in.”
In 1968 Weakley arranged to purchase a building on Boulevard Way (with off-street parking) in Walnut Creek. The union took on tenants to help finance the mortgage. Among them: a barber shop, a drug store, and a pet grooming business.
In 1976, then-Business Manager L. L. Mitchell oversaw construction of a new building in Walnut Creek on Citrus Circle—with off-street parking. This served as the headquarters from 1976 to 2003, including the 21-year tenure of Business Manager Jack McNally.
McNally recognized that the union was busting its buttons at 30 Citrus Circle and in the 1990s began exploring options for relocating. The idea was carried forward in 2001 by newly-elected Business Manager Perry Zimmerman, who eventually selected Vacaville because of its proximity to Interstate highways and favorable real estate prices.
Construction was authorized by the Executive Board and completed in 2003. The new hall was named after Weakley, who attended the grand opening that October.
Today Weakley Hall serves as the union’s administrative center, dispatch office, and organizing hub, as well as the meeting place where countless IBEW 1245 members meet to negotiate contracts, promote workers’ interests and protect their rights.