February 2010

Letters to the Editor
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The Road to Socialism, Continued

[Editor's note: The December letter from Richmond Local 50 member Fenton Wyatt Jr., who spoke of ending his membership due to the IBEW's support for "socialist" health care reform, generated more mail from readers than we have seen in a long time. Please read on for a sampling.]

I believe as union members, we must stop the backstabbing and remember we represent the union first. We have groups trying to kill the movement, lobbying for right-to-work laws, spreading lies on how we organize and rumors about how the secret ballot will end if the Employee Free Choice Act is passed. We must stand together as one. Remember, the first step to a strong union is its members.

Now is the time to put the BS behind us and stand for a common cause. It starts with members and elected officials to begin a new era. Time to show who, when, what and how the IBEW is making a difference with the skill level we have.

I am proud to be a member of the IBEW since 1998. The best move I have ever made. But some members don't do nearly enough to promote us. Let's stand together as one, not as two or three, but one. Let's have our voices heard and show we are the future.

William R. Shilling Jr.
Local 375 member, Allentown, Pa.


As a father and lineman who has raised three children in Canada, I must question the validity of Fenton Wyatt Jr.'s assertions regarding our Canadian health care system. My personal experience of our public system has been positive. We may not have all the bells and whistles available to our U.S. neighbors who are fortunate enough to be members of a good health provider. We do, however, have coverage for all our citizens and we won't end up in the poor house when we need it! I and all those I know have always received proper care from dedicated professionals. Are there problems? Of course, but I would not trade what we have for your profit-driven system. American health care costs are the highest per capita in the world. Incidentally, there are 25-30 million Americans who have no health coverage. That's the population of our country! Perhaps Mr. Wyatt ought to do a little unbiased research before he condemns an entire country's choices.

Greg Slobodin
Local 258 member, Vancouver Island, British Columbia


I was an IBEW member for 39 years and have been retired for three years. I am so sick and tired of the people that cry socialism every time the Obama administration tries to correct a fundamental problem with this nation. President Obama inherited one of the biggest messes that any president could imagine. The economy was unregulated and unsupervised throughout. The mortgage industry was totally wrapped up in greed to the point of near financial collapse. The total quagmire of two wars that is draining financial assists and lives of the soldiers is a burden on our nation. It has been a decade of one disaster after another. Any organization that stood in the way of maximum profits was simply under-budgeted to make the organization ineffective.

If President Obama accepted the status quo and the problems had continued, the nation would have dived into a much deeper depression. The unemployment rate at this point is a product of the financial disaster inherited from the Republican Party.

The Republican Party would like nothing better than rid the country of organized labor. Strong unions have led the way for a stronger financial middle class in the United States. A vote for a Republican politician and what that party stands for is a vote against organized labor and against a union member's job.

Larry T. Grigsby
Local 613 retiree, Atlanta, Ga.


I have also been a long-time member of the IBEW (like 58 years) and it is so frustrating to hear from people who are so ungrateful to an organization that has done so much for so many for so long.

To all of the members, let me say we are so damned lucky to have the opportunity to be members of the IBEW. There are thousands out there that would kill for a chance to get into an organization such as this one. So let me thank all of the members that feel as I do and respond to these kinds of ingrates that are willing to take all of the benefits in full and still badmouth us.

Thank you for being a part of the IBEW and the great people I had the privilege of working with for 35+ years. I owe everything I have to the IBEW, and so does Wyatt, even if he doesn't realize it.

Bill Butler
Local 477 retiree, San Bernardino, Calif.