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Keynote Address to Delegates at the 38th International Convention
From IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill
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Thank you, brothers and sisters. And I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am truly humbled by your confidence in me and to be chosen again to lead the greatest trade union in the world -- with apologies to our guests -- but with the utmost pride in our Brotherhood in my heart.

I am fortunate to have such a wonderful family -- my wife Rosemary -- my daughters Michelle and Toni -- and my son Ed -- who have supported me in everything I do – well, since Rosemary is hitting her head on the table -- I should clarify that with -- almost everything.   The IBEW has given my family all we have -- but in turn -- I am thankful that they were willing to make the sacrifices necessary -- so that I could dedicate my working life to the IBEW -- to be honest -- that is a story that holds true for most of the lives of virtually everyone present here today.

I thank the officers who I introduced to you this morning -- the International Representatives for their willingness to push forward with the everyday work that makes the IBEW what it is – I want acknowledge a particular group in Washington beginning with Janice Boylan and Kendra Peoples who make sure that the Office of the President and Secretary-Treasurer operates without a hitch. Larry Neidig the senior assistant to the Officers -- Sherilyn Wright my assistant -- Larry Reidenbach assistant to the IST -- their staffs --each of the Directors and their staffs for without them to direct and make sure that the wheels don’t fall off the train we would not get done what needs to be done in a day. They have done the heavy lifting to bring our policies and our ideas to life.  Their dedication -- their hard work must never be underestimated.

And most of all -- I am thankful for you -- the delegates to this great convention and all the brothers and sisters you represent back home.  As local union officers and activists -- you have shown the courage and commitment to step forward and be counted.  You have taken on the often thankless task of serving your fellow workers -- and in this day and age, that means facing up to some very stiff opposition from those who would deny us -- that which you have earned.  Your determination and strong will are the very things that keep this Brotherhood going -- slogging on -- making progress no matter what the challenge.

Thank you for -- among many things -- showing that we indeed – are a Brotherhood Beyond Borders.

In thinking about what to say to you today at this convention, this historic gathering of our representative democracy -- I decided to share the words of one of the most courageous and visionary leaders of the 20th century -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States.

In the depths of the Great Depression, FDR had this to say to his countrymen, the citizens for whom he was responsible: “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly...let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to turn retreat into advance.”

Let me repeat that last line -- “Paralyzes needed efforts to turn retreat into advance.”

Do these words ring true today?

The retreat part certainly applies.

Two weeks ago today, the United States celebrated Labor Day, if “celebration” is the word.  The opinion sections of all the diverse media we have today were full of evidence to support not only the decline of organized labor – the standard piece that gets written this time of year – but also the raw deal that workers in general are getting. 

I don’t think I need to spell it out.  You know what’s happened.  And if you work in construction, you know that 2009 and 2010 weren’t part of a Great recession – they were a new depression.  Because that’s how high unemployment levels in our biggest branch turned out to be – the largest since the days FDR spoke to his countrymen – and by extension, to Canada and the world because the Great Depression, like today’s global economy, knew no borders.

And – like then – the greatest threat we face is not a right-wing ideology.  It is not government debt.  It is not the unemployment rate.

The biggest threat to our existence is our own fear – a fear that can paralyze us into doing nothing – or too little.   I do not stand here and pretend to tell you that the IBEW can solve everything by ourselves.  But we have shown that we are capable of defying the conventional wisdom and turning our Brotherhood around in the face of grave challenges.

It is time to do it again.

All of us are used to the up and down of the economy.  We have all lived through it, even our younger members.  What is scary today, however -- is that the Great Recession is looking like an unwelcome relative sleeping on the couch -- it is not here for the short term but threatens to settle in for a long stay.  Without a bounce back in the economy, we could be in for a long period of stagnation that will stifle growth and prosperity for the foreseeable future.

Do we have what it takes to fight through this?  Can we overcome our fear?

Consider the five years we have just lived through since our last convention.  Those of you who were at the 2006 convention in Cleveland will recall the high spirits with which we left the hall after the final gavel had sounded.  We had set this union on a solid course for the future.  We had looked beyond the immediate concerns of the present -- and thought about the future -- putting in place the resources for an unprecedented organizing program. 

And we didn’t leave it in the convention hall or on the E-Board Room table.  We took that spirit and we continued on the path of progress.  We reached an all-time high in our A membership.  For the first time in decades -- we won a string of victories in our professional and industrial breach because we had a plan -- the resources and the people to make it work.  We re-established ourselves in every industry becoming a voice of common sense and the standard of excellence.  The brothers and sisters of our host nation led the way with impressive growth and embarked on new programs to capture more outside line work -- reach out to young workers -- and get in the game for green energy.

Cleveland  bolstered our spirits to win some of our greatest political victories.  In the United States, we set our goals high -- won back the Congress in 2006 to limit George W. Bush’s power and then capture the White House in 2008.  Less than two months after the gavel fell in Ohio -- union volunteers took back the U.S. Congress for the Democratic Party.  Two years later -- we had the greatest grassroots political action effort in IBEW history -- maybe in all of labor history.  And Barack Obama sits in the White House because of it.  And I don’t want to hear about the independent voters.  Labor pulled Obama across the finish line in the key industrial states of the East and Midwest that he had to have in order to win.

And, by damn, we did it.  By the dawn of 2009, it looked like we were on our way – the way to the brighter future we had worked so hard to build.

Our progress came to a screeching halt as the recession spread beyond the shattered portfolios of the big banks and investment houses and spread its tentacles around the world – upending the markets in bonds, housing and commercial real estate and then driving down consumer demand, the availability of credit, and the money needed to keep construction alive.  The recession caused companies and families to retrench – to hold onto their money.  And that caused the most terrible thing to happen – the widespread loss of jobs.  Unemployment most directly affects those who want desperately to work, but can’t find it.  Unemployment hurts those who still have work, but are squeezed by the boss for more overtime or a steady degradation of their pay and benefits.  Unemployment hurts the unorganized because they put their hopes and their dreams, and even their rights on hold because they don’t want to be fired for speaking up.  Unemployment clouds the judgment and results in working people casting protest votes, even if their support goes to phony populists bought and paid for, lock stock and barrel by the corporations and powerful billionaires.

Fear.

The consequences are everywhere.

Since our last convention, some of our brothers and sisters aren’t here.  They’re not in our ranks anymore.  The plants they worked in closed or moved.  They lost jobs at utilities or at phone companies.  Their work in construction dried up. Their television station cut its work force.  Their employer lost a government contract.  Their railroad lost money and cut back.  They are not here and they are not represented.  But -- they are still with us.  Their spirit is still in this hall.  They remind us what can be lost and has been lost and is being lost -- because in most cases, their lives are not as comfortable as they were when they were part of the IBEW -- or as good as they could and should be.

There is a dark cloud over the land, brothers and sisters.  Right now it is concentrated over the United States, but it’s making its way toward Canada too.  It’s a toxic brew of reactionary politics – greed – prejudice -- and class warfare -- and it is all waged against us.

Our job -- right here in Vancouver -- is to make sure that the union we love does not become a victim of fear.  Our job is to make sure we are not lost in that dark cloud.

There is one big difference between us and the generation that founded the IBEW 120 years ago.  They had nothing to lose.  The companies had all the power.  There was an endless supply of labor -- many of them new to North America -- willing to take any job -- no matter how dangerous – and electrical work was one of the most dangerous jobs of all.  We saw a picture of Henry Miller come to life on the screen this morning and talk about brotherhood beyond borders. The story of what the ten founders of the IBEW did in St. Louis in 1891 is part of our heritage -- our shared values.  And we have what we have today because of what those ten leaders did -- and generations of leaders who came after them did.

We – on the other hand -- have a lot to lose -- our jobs -- our pensions -- our health care and the middle-class lifestyle that we enjoy.  And people who have that much to lose can get paralyzed with fear and curl up into a ball and hope the storm blows over -- hope that they don’t become one of the victims.
And nine times out of ten, they wind up losing it anyway.

No -- we have to fear losing only one thing, brothers and sisters.  We -- must fear losing the future.
Some of you have met our group of young members who are here as guests at this convention.  They are doing more than enjoying the parties and watching the action.  They are shadowing you, brothers and sisters.  They are watching -- they are learning and they will be conducting mock votes by paper along with you in an exercise to see how they would make the decision that you will be making here this week.  They are from every corner of Canada and the United States.  All districts are represented -- and we tried to get at least one from every province and state.  They’re sitting in a special section in the back.

And they are not here as a treat or a feel-good PR program.  They are here because they represent the first wave of the future.  They are part of us -- and it will be their turn in the box before too long.  Take a good look at them.  Shake their hands and talk to them -- because when you look at them -- you will be reminded what we have to lose.  Go home and look at the apprentices or the newly hired members in your units.  Look at your own children around the dinner table.  That’s what we have to lose, brothers and sisters -- the future.

Their future.

 I can say with confidence that everyone in this hall -- that I have the honor of knowing personally -- and those of you with whom I am acquainted -- because we carry cards in the same great union -- everyone I know would answer that we will stand up and fight for their future and our way of life.   There are no cowards here.  We bring different skills to the table and fight in our own way -- but all of us are here because we don’t accept having someone else tell us how we are going to live our life -- and what we are permitted to earn.

The fighting spirit is there.  What do we do with it?  How do we channel it?  What’s the plan?
The way forward has many roads -- all leading us to the same place.  We don’t have the luxury of picking a battle and concentrating our focus -- our energy -- and our resources in one area over another.  We must defend ourselves everywhere -- and go on the offensive everywhere.

Let’s start with a subject that never goes away -- politics.

I think it’s fair to say that we can’t do political action any better than we did in 2006 and 2008 in the United States.  I’ve been active in electoral politics since almost my first day in the IBEW -- and I have never seen us fire on all cylinders as well as we did in those elections.  Our program to develop and train a registrar in every local was a rousing success -- resulting in unprecedented number of members and their families getting registered and then getting out the vote.  Our educational effort was second to none.  Our communications focused on issues -- not on personalities -- and our members responded in overwhelming numbers to elect candidates we thought were pro-labor.

As we approach the big political year of 2012, however -- we find ourselves hard pressed to repeat that success.  We learned our lesson that political -- and by extension legislative -- mobilization is an engine that needs to be running all the time.  You can’t put it in the garage in an off year and expect it to start right up and begin to hum again right away.  Political education and mobilization is an ongoing process.
Part of the education is to make sure our members know that electing the candidates we support isn’t the end in itself.  We try to be realistic about what can be achieved because politics is an endless give-and-take.  Politics isn’t a retail transaction where you invest your money and time and expect a defined result – at least it never seems to be that way on our side.

But you know -- it’s still hard to explain why working people haven’t gotten more from those we helped elect.

It’s been three years since we went to the mat for Barack Obama and the Democratic candidates -- along with a few loyal Republicans -- for Congress and for state and local offices.  And yet we continue to see lingering unemployment -- a steady flow of proposed trade deals that just keep up the insanity of giving away our industrial base -- the tacit acknowledgement of the Republican argument that government spending and debt are bigger priorities than job creation -- an Employee Free Choice Act that died without even a vote -- or worse yet -- not even a substitute bill that would give us some relief and get some improvements to labor law.   Fairly or not -- the President is perceived as being weak in negotiations -- by conceding too much ground before the first dealing even takes place.  And then -- the Democratic Party announces that it’s going to hold its convention in Charlotte, North Carolina -- a right-to-work paradise that is a stronghold of nonunion labor -- including the nonunion construction industry that is a mainstay of the Republican Party -- and they think they can satisfy us by throwing some installation work our way.

Are we perceived as being that stupid to them?  They might rethink that perception since we have advised them that the IBEW will not be participating in the convention as we -- or the rest of the Trade Union movement has -- in years past.    We are hopeful that this action will get their attention.
I sound like I’m being hard on the President and the Democrats.  I really do think he is doing his best in the face of a backlash of epic proportion.  As one political observer noted -- the Republicans and the right-wing establishment that backs them are not prepared to acknowledge the legitimacy of a Democratic presidency – they hounded Bill Clinton and they are throwing every trick in the book at Barack Obama.

The President did push through the biggest change to health care in a generation -- improvements which are only now being felt -- and which will make life better for millions of people.  The president stood fast to save the auto industry and did so in a way where the Big Three have actually paid back their loans and are doing the best they have in decades -- and he did in the face of loud whining and crying on the part of the free market purists.  The President’s actions saved countless jobs -- not only in the auto industry but related jobs -- including those of many of our people.

And there is the inescapable fact that if the Republicans recapture the White House and control of one or both houses of Congress -- we are in even deeper -- stuff.  Just watching the current crop of Republican presidential candidates’ debate is enough to cause a strong man to tremble -- a grown woman to cry -- a child to be scared -- and the damn dog will even beg for a Thunder Shirt.    I am tempted to say: where do they get these people?   But -- we know that answer.  These candidates are developed – groomed -- bought -- and paid for and they one have job and one job only -- to convince the average American that giving more of their money in the form of higher prices -- less wages and declining value of their property is better than giving one penny to the government where it might do all of society some good.  They are there to convince you and me -- that our rights as working people aren’t as important as their right to make as much money as they can -- any way they can -- free from any interference.  And they’ve done a damn good job of it.

So heading into the next election -- it will be hard to look our members in the eye and tell them to vote for this guy or that gal and everything will be all right.    It won’t be all right.

And rallying around the slogan of “They’re not as bad as the other guys,” doesn’t exactly stir the blood or create any excitement.

And yet -- we can’t quit.

I’ve said it so many times before -- a modern trade union has to be involved in politics.  There is too much to lose if we leave the field to our opponents. We have to keep fighting -- we have to keep talking about the issues -- and we must keep our members involved.  And the good news is we do have some help -- that help comes in the form of the Republicans who were elected in 2010.

Do the words Wisconsin and Ohio ring a bell?

Those states are exhibit A of how candidates can ride a wave of unrest and fear -- then think they have a mandate to enact a radical right-wing agenda.  They messed with our core rights -- including the right to bargain collectively.  They thought that they had made public employees the enemy but didn’t realize they had struck a chord in the vast majority of working people -- both union and those still waiting to be organized.  In seeking to silence us -- they helped us regain our voice -- our passion and our grassroots power.

Scott Walker and John Kasich -- the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio respectively -- and all those who attack us viciously seeking to deprive us of our rights -- must know that there is and there will be a fast and furious response to their actions.  We must make them pay a price if they are going to go after us.
Case in point -- the working families of Ohio mobilized and got an overwhelming number of signatures to put S.B. 5 -- the state bill gutting collective bargaining for public employees on the ballot this November.   Governor Kasich took a look at the polls -- saw that he was about to have his ass handed to him.  So he offered to negotiate if labor would pull the referendum issue.  The answer was: We’ll see you at the polls and talk after your bill is history.

Memo to the White House:  Mr. President, that’s how you negotiate.

What the battles in Wisconsin -- Ohio -- Indiana -- Michigan and other states have shown is that the issues haven’t gone away.  The concerns of working families are still on the front burner.  Yes -- many of our people voted out of frustration in 2010 -- but they are even more frustrated today -- and now Republicans own at least a piece of the jobs crisis.  We have living proof that our warnings about the consequences of electing nut jobs are real and have a devastating impact on people’s lives.  We are showing that the Tea Party doesn’t have a monopoly on anger -- and we are showing the upper-middle class what real populism looks like. 

And that’s what we need to build on as we approach 2012 in the United States.

We have also talked for a couple of years now about increasing our political efforts in Canada.  Voters in Canada have a wider range of parties to choose from -- and those parties can vary dramatically from province to province.  But the bigger problem seems to be that many of our Canadian brothers and sisters base their vote on factors other than their membership in the IBEW.

The challenge is the same no matter which side of the 49th parallel you live on.  It boils down to education on issues -- linking the way a member votes to the impact on his or her job.  It takes time and patience to build that consciousness.  We took heart at the results of the last national election where even though the Conservatives won a clear majority -- the New Democratic Party became the official opposition with strong showings in several parts of the nation.  With Stephen Harper as prime minister -- the need for an opposition that articulates the needs and wants for working men and women is sorely needed to counter the corporate tilt of this government.

Unfortunately, -- the capable leader of the New Democrats -- Jack Layton -- lost his battle with cancer last month at only 61 years of age.  Jack was a strong voice for social justice and we had hoped to have him address the delegates at this convention.  It is a tragic loss for all of us in the IBEW.  But as always -- the cause survives.  The fight transcends one individual and goes on.  The best way to honor Jack’s memory is to build a strong, grassroots labor political effort in Canada, and that is what we will do.

Important as it is to have political allies -- we have learned from experience that we can’t wait for anyone to rescue us -- or come up with the magic bullet.  Even in the worst of times -- there are circumstances we can control -- if we are willing to think differently and try new programs and new solutions.

I spoke earlier about our membership development program which was put in place after our last convention.  The bitter economy of the past two years has reduced our numbers in all branches, but before that -- we were heading in exactly the right direction.  And -- in a vindication of the vision of the delegates to our last convention -- the program was producing -- for the first time in some 30 years -- gains in our professional and industrial branches.  Unlike in days gone by -- we were not able to walk in and organize units of several thousand in one swoop because those types of units have either long been organized or don’t exist on this continent anymore.  But our strategy of careful targeting primarily within our existing industries was paying dividends. 

Later this week -- you’ll see some of the hard numbers.  You will see that since 2006 we have had a net loss of 30,000 BA members.  That sounds bad -- but a little perspective is in order.  In that time -- we brought in 130,000 new BA members -- largely through organizing both internal and external.  Had it not been for the sour economy -- we very well could have made a net gain.  And had it not been for our program -- we would be in a hole that is even deeper and more difficult to climb out of.
There will be no retreat from our mission.  We have the structure and systems in place -- and are constantly fine tuning and reevaluating our plans.  We need only the will and the courage to keep moving forward in the face of all obstacles.

In construction we have taken a comprehensive approach -- building our program step by step not only to organize new members into the Brotherhood but to organize new work.  The depression in construction made the task more urgent -- but no one who was paying close attention could deny that even in good times -- our market share was slipping -- year after year after year.  Empty benches have a way of hiding problems -- just as full benches have a way of magnifying them.

We started before the last convention by getting our act together in what is now called the Code of Excellence.  We moved on by trying new things in Florida in a statewide effort to build market share where it had been abysmal.  And in case you’re wondering, we are still doing better in the Sunshine State than we would have if we had done nothing at all.  We moved onto other Southern states with industry nights -- job leafleting and other tactics -- including the introduction of alternative classifications of construction wireman/construction electrician.

Let me say something about that at this point.  I can’t remember any single policy move I have made that ignited the blowback that these alternative classifications have created.  I have said many times that I didn’t like doing it.  I come out of the same tradition that all of our construction journeymen do, and I had all the same complaints and doubts.

But I also had something else -- the obligation to uphold the constitution of this Brotherhood and the sacred trust to lead this union on the right path -- out of the current storm and past the cycles of boom and bust to something more stable -- more solid -- more worthy of our great Brotherhood.

I’ve communicated the reasoning behind using these classifications and our recovery agreement program to go after the work we are not doing and without which we won’t survive.  I made a video and sent it to every construction member in the U.S., then made a Canadian version which has now been sent to all members in Canada.

We even made a follow-up video which was placed on ibew.org last week documenting the indisputable success that locals all across the U.S. have experienced by using recovery agreements, including putting more journeymen back to work. 

I hope everyone heard that -- putting more journeymen back to work.

That was always the goal -- brothers and sisters.  And it’s working.  And we have no intention of changing what’s working.

And there’s more we will do.  At this year’s construction conference -- we announced our plans for business development -- including programs that will track projects in the pipeline and require you to help us gain the intelligence we need by inputting information online.  If you think we’re asking a lot of you -- you’re right.  But without this input -- we would be flying blind.

The data tracking was only the first step.  Our goal now is tie all we are doing together in a comprehensive plan to go after the work before it’s started.   Government spending to stimulate construction will help.  The market will eventually improve.  But we can’t wait.  We are going to take responsibility for our own future.

You’ve all heard the expression about getting in on the ground floor of a good thing.  By the time there is a ground floor -- it’s way too late -- hell, the first shovelful of dirt is too late.  Our construction locals must get in the game while the structure is on the architect’s drawing board.  We are going to get there and compete for everything, and we are asking our NECA partners to get in the game with us.  There will be a resolution on business development brought to the floor later this week, and you will hear more and have the chance to make your views known.

Brothers and sisters -- when I look at all the challenges facing us -- I see a common thread running through them.  I’m not afraid of any politician or any business leader or any right-wing talk show blowhard.  They haven’t caused our problems.  Our problems stem for another cause -- we have slowly lost the hearts and minds of the community.

By the community -- I’m not talking about people who have a professional interest in either the success or demise of the labor movement.  I’m not talking about the true believers in our cause or the hardcore union haters.  I’m talking about the people we rub shoulders with every day.  The people, who live on our block -- attend our places of worship.  See us at the local eatery or watering hole.  Play with our kids in organized sports -- go to school with our kids -- run a small business in town -- and most important -- who work in a place that doesn’t have union representation.

Those are the people we’ve been slowly losing over the years.  They may have bought into the stereotypes that constantly assault them in the media -- cleverly placed there by our opponents.  But that’s not the whole story.  We’re losing them in too many towns and cities across the U.S. and Canada because -- we’ve stopped telling them who we are.  They might know Bill who helped fix up a house for person in need on a Habitat for Humanity project.  They might know Jane who’s active in the PTA.  But do they know that these folks are not only members of the community but – are IBEW members?  Do they know that the IBEW locals and members -- in their community -- are out there doing good things?  I know you are.  We hear story after story of the goodness and generosity of our locals and our members.  Do others know?  Have you tried to tell them?

You see -- we have a hell of a time making the case to use local workers on construction projects or convincing a unit of workers to join us when they don’t know enough about us.  They don’t make the connection that if local jobs are substandard or are lost altogether due to a runaway plant or a project going to an out-of-province contractor -- then it tears at the fabric of the community -- the places we live.

This isn’t nostalgia for the good old days, brothers and sisters.  This isn’t a longing for an America or a Canada that doesn’t exist anymore or can’t be achieved again.  Our neighbors are out there.  Our communities are alive.  Yes -- society isn’t as tight knit as it once was and I for one -- am sorry about that.  Prosperity – technology -- and fear -- there’s that word again -- have isolated us from one another.  But people still seek community -- and they find it -- just in different forms.

We are in a good position to help restore labor’s standing in the community.  Our record of giving back is impressive.  The number of our members who hold leadership roles in state and local labor councils or building trades’ councils -- is unmatched.  We have something to tell the community and we need to step out from the pack of the labor movement and use some of that credibility and good will we have earned to make our voices heard.

This will not be an overnight process.  This will not come without cost.  Our adversaries spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars to back us into a corner.  We don’t have that kind of time -- and we certainly don’t have that kind of money.  Our treasury is not deep enough to support a comprehensive effort using modern methods of advertising and communication -- because in our media-driven society -- nothing less will get the job done.

There will resolutions put to this body to endorse community outreach in principle.  If adopted, they will put this convention on record as supporting the concept -- while not addressing how we proceed or how we pay for it. 

The answers will have to wait for now, but the imperative is real and it is immediate.  I believe that this will be one of the key issues that our Brotherhood will grapple with over the next five years, affecting our ability to succeed in membership and business development.  The conversation is just beginning.

Brothers and sisters -- on the eve of the Great Depression in 1929 -- the IBEW met in convention.  It would be the last convention held by the IBEW until 1941 because it wasn’t until the wartime boom in industry that the International and the locals had the funds to stage a convention and travel to it.  It can happen.  It did happen.

But even as the clouds were gathering -- the IBEW’s publication of the time sounded the theme that resonated among the delegates: --- A union is more than an economic instrument.  It is a fellowship.
And that is what we remain today.  Our mission -- spelled out in the Objects of our Constitution is timeless -- to elevate the moral -- intellectual and social conditions of our members -- and by extension their families and the communities in which they live.  Our adversaries can mock our idealism.  They can scorn our tradition and our beliefs.  But they will never -- ever -- douse the flame of solidarity that beats in the hearts of every one of us.

Those who think our day is over are in for a surprise.   Brothers and Sisters --- Our day is being reborn, renewed and redefined every day, just as it has been throughout our 120-year history. 

Brothers and Sisters --- if you want a better IBEW --- demand it ---- if you want a better IBEW work for it --- if you want a better IBEW – then join me to regain our place in History --- regain our place at the table.

It’s all still there, brothers and sisters.  The spirit -- the flame the passion -- the undying commitment to the cause of labor.  It lives in us just the way it lived in our fathers and mothers and just the way it is growing in our children.

This is not the time to leave it buried within us.

This is not the time to let fear extinguish the fire.

This is the time for action.

This is the time for courage.

This is the time to stand up against all odds and reclaim our birthright – a society where those who labor for a living have dignity and opportunity and justice – because those things are not guaranteed – they have never been given freely and they have never been won cheaply.  They are the things we hold most dear and we will hold on to them – and fight for them -- and pass them along to those who follow us.

We will take back our work.

We will take back our communities.

And we will take back our countries -- because we are the IB of EW.  We are the champions of the working man and woman. We are a Brotherhood Beyond Borders.

Thank you and God bless you all.

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