A Full Plate
January/February 2005 IBEW Journal
The new year has gotten off to a fast start. As this issue of the Journal shows, we have a full plate of issues.
January 21, 2005, will go down in IBEW history. On that day, we shut down operations in our old building and moved to new quarters at 900 Seventh Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. There was no "buyers remorse" as I watched workers struggle to remove our old marble cornerstone, preparing for our move to a new International Office. This is the right move at the right time.
We could have poured money into fixing up our old buildingand left the big decisions to the next generation. That would have been irresponsible. The only move that made long-term sense for our Brotherhood was to move to a new building, and in so doing increase the efficiency of our operations and maximize the return on our investment through greater leasing revenue. Our commitment to secure the financial future of this organization needs to be just as hard as the marble cornerstone that the workers struggled to cut.
With the immense challenges facing our labor movement, especially in light of the 2004 election, our departments, like our members, need to be linked in an ever-tighter chain. Our new building strengthens those links, placing staff of different departments side-by-side, forming a better, stronger team. We hope that all our members who travel to Washington, D.C., will come see it in person. It is a home that belongs to all who are part of our great Brotherhood.
Teamwork was our unions approach to Mobilization 2004. I want to thank our members, again, for your hard work. Now, before our mobilization machinery gets cold, its time to fire it up again in the first pivotal battle of George Walker Bushs second termthe one to save Social Security.
This wont be easy, but lets never forget that 2004, while a devastating loss, was not a mandate for those who would gut every social program designed to benefit working families in the name of reform. This battle will strengthen the IBEW as we take the lead, reaching out to our neighbors and our surrounding communities.
Taking the lead in 2005 was also on Secretary-Treasurer OConnors and my mind when we were the first in line for drug and alcohol screening as part of the IBEWs Drug-Free Workplace Plan on January 11. As we told our Vice Presidents and International Representatives, "We will not ask our members to do anything that we will not do ourselves."
As announced last year, we negotiated a national agreement with the National Electrical Contractors Association to create a drug-free work force within the electrical construction industry. The agreement is in the process of being implemented by IBEW locals and their NECA chapter counterparts across the United States. No members will be required to undergo testing, but those who do so voluntarily will become part of a certified drug-free pool. We live in a time when the construction industry is hyper-competitive and safety is a prime concern of our members, our employers and our customers alike. Does anyone doubt which part of our work force will be preferred by those who provide our construction members with employment? This issue has everything to do with our long-term economic survival and our commitment to excellence in the electrical construction industry.
We would be dishonoring the blood, sweat and tears that have advanced our trade and our union if we were to take a hands-off, "leave it to the contractors" approach to the tragic consequences that can result from drug and alcohol abuse, whether on the job or on the streets of our communities.
Our new IBEW headquarters, our fight to save Social Security and our Drug-Free Workplace Plan are not separate efforts. Together, they are part of our commitment to build a strong cornerstone for the next generation of IBEW members. We are fighting for the future.
Edwin D. Hill