EDWIN D. HILL
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS
IBEW POLITICAL CONFERENCE
September 8, 2006
I am glad that you have decided to participate in the
conference; this is a very important election year for all of
us you could say it could be a do or die for the trade union
me it is always a pleasure to greet our union's political conference.
Some may call you political activists. But to me and to our International
leadership, you -- are union activists -- in the best
sense of that word because you understand
you understand that politics, organizing and collective bargaining
are interdependent parts in the anatomy of our nation’s
our collective bargaining and organizing muscle that enables
us to gain new members and win good contracts.
healthy muscles can't pull without strong tendons -- a body politic
-- a system of laws that connect us to one another, to our movement
and to our community.
And, brothers and sisters -- Corporate America has slashed
at our tendons with the most potent, virulent, extremist right-wing
political virus that our nation has ever seen. If we don't
begin to stop the spread of that virus this coming November,
all of our efforts to build new IBEW strength and a better future
for America's working families stand to be undermined.
2006 is about putting America and our labor movement onto the
road of recovery from the sick politics of greed that have deformed
and defiled the world's most powerful nation. If you are
angry and ready to work like there's no tomorrow, you're in the
talk about a tipping point. Many of us thought that a majority
of Americans were ready to tip the political scales on George
W. Bush in 2004. We got pumped up on the early returns, -- believing
that the chickens were coming home to roost for this administration
that has turned the White House into a national monument of incompetence,
arrogance and elitism.
or not you believe that this administration led by George W.
Bush duped a slim majority of Americans into voting against their
best interests -- you woke up the next morning listening to Bush
proclaim that a plurality of Americans supported his policies.
Maybe you took a stiff drink. Maybe you clenched your
fist, slammed a wall or muttered "every dog has his day," No
matter. They were back.
-- pollsters are again talking about a tipping point, pointing
to graphs that show the president's plurality drying up. This
is causing big problems for Republican candidates in the Midterms
who are afraid to be too closely connected to the president. In
fact -- many of them are acting like spoiled kids who run away
from home for a few months -- but still phone home every week
and sisters -- there's nothing like a good shot of the truth
when any struggle reaches the tipping point. I’m
reminded of the words of Harry Truman when he was urged to give ‘em
hell, he replied, “I tell the truth about the Congress,
and they think its hell.” It’s time for good
-- old-fashioned truth telling.
-- brothers and sisters -- are the leaders of
the IBEW's truth
We will soon be in the late hours of an election that
could change the course of our nation’s history. And
your first task leaving here is to recruit every member that
you can in our effort remind working Americans who might have
forgotten -- or who are confused -- about how their votes have
a direct impact on all of our lives. If you do this work well--and
I know that you will--the IBEW will play a major role in tipping
our nation in the direction of change in November.
time you’re at the computer, try this. Enter the
word, "Failure" in Google's search engine; our first
link is to President George W. Bush. Now that's funny --
for about a minute-- until we think of the tragic human consequences
this administration's policies. Try as Bush and his party will
to reduce their campaign to some feel-good sound bites -- a few
momentous events are drowning them out.
fact -- we have witnessed unique moments where our national political
debate moved beyond sound bites to real substance. The searing
images of death in the floods of Hurricane Katrina caused millions
of Americans to ponder where the line is between natural catastrophe
and man-made policy failure. The administration's professed hatred
of so-called "big government" and their history of
appointing business-friendly hacks to replace dedicated civil
servants were forever exposed with the words: "Heck of a
national political debate moved beyond sound bites again when
Congressman Jack Murtha called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops
from Iraq. Whatever you may believe about our presence
in Iraq, I hope that you agree that Karl Rove and the Republicans
went over the top when they questioned the patriotism of a Congressman
who was both a veteran and a legendary supporter of our Armed
when we picked up our newspapers before the 2004 election and
read about traditional Democrats who were sticking with President
Bush because they felt that he would keep America safe? Two
years later, we are reading about traditional Republicans who
are deserting the President.
it any wonder? This is a political party which continues
to brag about economic opportunity -- even while the number one
export from America's ports is empty containers bound for China.
Images of death on the bayou and the battlefield have
been joined by those of retired Americans on ventilators and
walkers who are being robbed of their medical insurance and forced
into personal bankruptcy. They include some of our IBEW brothers
and sisters. The administration's answer to this travesty---
They passed a bankruptcy law written by the credit card companies
to make it harder for working Americans to get out from under
a growing load of debt. I don't need to go on. You
have already indicated that you are angry and you should be.
too early to say whether this election will be one of those rare
contests where concern about our nation trumps our party traditions
-- but it could be. The arrogance of this administration seems
to know no bounds. When our employers slam the door on
dialogue and take a "my way or the highway" approach,
-- we organize on the job. When our political leaders
take the same tack, we owe it to ourselves and to all working
families to organize politically. And organize we will.
the past several months and weeks, many of the folks in this
room have dedicated themselves to building the kind of infrastructure
that will win on the ground in November.
May, Vice President Schantzen spoke for me and addressed the
convocation of the Florida New Alliance and pledged the IBEW's
support for a unified CLC and state federation per capita to
help provide the funds to turn the Sunshine State around.
month -- I visited the Labor 2006 Battleground States Meeting
in Chicago to throw IBEW's weight behind Labor 2006's hard-hitting
10-Point Plan. I addressed the growing dynamic of early
voting and the need to get more volunteers on the street
and on the phone earlier than ever before.
over this Labor Day weekend, I went to Lorain, Ohio, to join
the AFL-CIO leadership in a get-out-the-vote kickoff rally. If
the spirit of that crowd was any indication -- working men and
women are ready to throw the bums out. They are ready for
the truth; all they need is an organized effort.
commitment to political action this year is not hollow. IBEW
has appointed a national coordinator to help focus our people
power in the places where we can make the greatest difference
before November and in the years ahead.
am confident, brothers and sisters -- that when we return home
and link arms with our progressive allies, we will put America's
working families back on the march to recovery.
the end -- it's all about power. And this Brotherhood will never, ever surrender
to those who would monopolize that power for the enrichment of
the few at the tragic expense of America's workers.
Thank you and God bless you all for the work that you