(Least) Favorite Things
by Edwin D. Hill, International President
Common wisdom holds that the beginning of a new year is the time to make resolutions to try to do things better or to improve oneself as a person in the months to come.
Being committed to a union means living in a constant state of evaluation and striving to improve, so thats nothing new for hundreds of thousands of dedicated IBEW members.
That said, there are some things that I for one will be trying to improve in 2002. Call it my list of pet peeves or what you will. The world would be a better place if we could change the habits of some folks. For example:
People who drive cars made by Japanese or German companies and assembled in Mexico and then wonder why so many North American jobs in the steel and auto industries are being lost.
People who dont understand that job losses in these and other industries also affect construction members who lose work due to downsizing and plant closings
People who will drive 10 miles to save two bucks at Wal-Mart, not knowing or caring that the retail giant is one of the most anti-union corporations in the world and hypocritically makes a mockery of the Made in the USA label.
People who run major corporations into the ground, then, when the bills come due, bail out in their golden parachutes while workers and the community are left holding the bag.
People who preach about the virtues of the unfettered free market and self-reliance, and then run to Washington or Ottawa for a handout when the going gets tough.
People who dont vote their pocketbook, then wonder how all these anti-union politicians got into office.
People who care more about a pet issue than they care about their jobs or the jobs of their brothers and sisters when it comes time to vote.
People who dont lift a finger to help their local unionwhich has provided them with the opportunity to earn a good livelihood and support their familiesthen are the first ones up to complain about anything.
People who cant understand why unions are not growing then ignore calls to help organize.
People who undercut our vital organizing efforts by not welcoming or accepting newly organized members into their locals because the new person didnt have some of the advantages or connections that many of us did to get into the IBEW.
People who, when confronted with mountains of evidence on why unions help working families, still cling to their stubborn beliefs that their employers will take care of them. Employers usually do, but not in the way the non-union folks expect.
People who think that any need for improvement always refers to the other guy and couldnt possibly apply to their own perfect selves.
People who, in the 21st century, still cling to outdated, counterproductive prejudices that wont let them see the worth and the potential in other human beings.
I dont mean this to sound like a scold (well, maybe I do). The inescapable fact is that the world got a lot tougher in 2001. The problems of economic change and unfriendly political leadership have not gone away. Now we also understand that we have a war on our hands and a vastly different world scene. The recession, which was silently cresting like a big wave, came crashing down on our heads with shocking suddenness.
Working people have always been buffeted by external events. What else is new? What matters are changes we make from the inside out. If we recognize in ourselves any of the traits I mentioned above, lets clean up our act. For it is within ourselves that we will find the path to success.
We will do whatever it takes to keep that spirit going in the new year. Thats a resolution worth keeping.
January/February 2002 IBEW Journal
"What matters are changes we make from the inside out."