The Road to Progress
This year marks the IBEWs 110th year of existence. It seems like only yesterday we had our centennial convention, but that was 1991. We have now completed the first decade of our second hundred years.
No matter what line you are in, 110 years is quite a track record. We live in a time when old and respected institutions crumblewhen corporations that were once blue chip companies close their doors. The warp speed of change has claimed many victims in recent years. But were still hereproud, vibrant, and arguably as strong as at any point in our history, despite the many challenges staring us in the face.
In late June, Secretary-Treasurer OConnor and I concluded this years round of progress meetingsthe annual gatherings of local leaders in each of our eleven Vice Presidential districts. They were held early this year because of the upcoming 36th International Convention. I want to deliver to all members of the Brotherhood through this column the core message that I gave at each of our progress meetings.
The diversity of industries the IBEW represents is a source of our strength. Yet no matter how different each industry may be, there are common themes that cut across industry lines. I dont think for a minute we can underestimate the impact that technology has had and will have on our jobs. And employers are using it to change the way our members workoften using it against us in the process. And with changing technology comes a new and greater emphasis on education and training to keep our skill levels current.
The pages of the IBEW Journal in 2001 and in recent years have documented the tremendous changes taking place in the utility, construction, railroad, manufacturing, telecommunications and broadcasting industries. Without a doubt, these pose many challengesnot the least of which is the fact that the traditional lines that once separated different branches of the Brotherhood are blurring to the point of nonexistence.
I dont have all the answersnor do I have a ready-made formula to make things go our way. But I can say that I am determined as your International President that the spirit of Brotherhood must be put into practice every day as we go about our jobs. In a world of constant change, we will be much farther down the road to progress if we start off with a measure of good will toward each other and a mutual desire for fair and workable solutions.
We have too many enemies out there who would love to feast on our bones. We have a President of the United States who has taken more anti-labor steps in his first months in office than even Ronald Reagan did. We have corporations who would love nothing better than for unions to disappear off the face of the earth. We have nonunion and union competition that would gladly raid our work.
Im focused on the bottom line. And I define the bottom line as more members, more jobs, and more opportunities. I want the IBEW to be the union of choice for every skilled worker in every facet of the electrical industry. I want us to grow where we can, adapt when we must, and make the 21st century a bright chapter in IBEW history.
There is no truth that is so obvious that it doesnt bear repeating. We work best when we work together. We have never suffered lasting defeats when we have stood, side by side, with each other in solidarity. We can beat any foe, win any work we seek, and overcome any obstacle if we have the will to do so. So let the journey on the road to progress continue. Lets write a new chapter in our history, one that will make our descendants proud.
Edwin D. Hill
We work best