IBEW Local 151 died in October of 1907. But it didn’t stay dead for long. Linemen throughout the country were beginning to feel abandoned by Grand President Frank McNulty, and had even less use for Grand Secretary Peter Collins. Collins was an inside wireman who had no sympathy for militants. He was a teetotaler who rubbed many linemen the wrong way, and on one occasion nearly came to blows with IBEW Grand Treasurer Frank Sullivan, a Midwestern lineman. Collins eventually outmaneuvered Sullivan and forced his resignation.
In retaliation, Sullivan organized a special convention at which IBEW members replaced Grand President Frank McNulty with James J. Reid. Frank Sullivan was restored to the position of Grand Treasurer. James Murphy of Cleveland was elected Grand Secretary.
For the next five years, the Reid IBEW and McNulty IBEW were at war. Each acted true to form: The McNulty IBEW dismantled the district council system, which it saw as a threat to the power of the union’s top officers. The Reid IBEW, on the other hand, doubled down on district councils as a way to increase the power of workers to confront large utility corporations. The McNulty IBEW won recognition by the American Federation of Labor, but the Reid IBEW won the allegiance of most IBEW members. At least 75 percent of IBEW electrical workers—including many inside wiremen and most outside linemen—sided with Reid. Linemen in the San Francisco Bay Area applied for a charter with the Reid IBEW and in October of 1908 a charter was granted.
IBEW Local 151 was back.