January 2011

Fighting for Our Future: Putting Jobs First
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From city councils to the U.S. Senate, newly elected officials across the country take office this month in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And while corporate America has restored its profit margins to pre-recession levels, working Americans continue to feel the pinch, battered by job losses, declining wages and rising health care costs.

Unemployment still hovers near 10 percent, with more than 15 million people out of work. And those are only the official numbers. The number of workers who have been unemployed for six months or more keeps rising, hitting 6.3 million in December—a new record.

For IBEW members in the construction branch, the numbers are even worse, running closer to 20 percent nationwide and more than double that in some particulary hard-hit regions.

America's No. 1 priority in the midterm elections was made clear in poll after poll: jobs, jobs, jobs.

That means every elected official has a mandate to cut through the partisanship to focus on jumpstarting the economy and getting America back to work.

There is a heated debate going on—from kitchen tables to state houses up to Capitol Hill—about what our country's priorities must be. Some lawmakers say that high levels of unemployment are here to stay. They say we need to focus on cutting programs like Social Security and Medicaid and hope that more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will do the trick. Some want to take away our right to a decent wage and freedom to join a union, driving down working standards even further.

Some want to kill major projects—like high speed rail—that would create thousands of new jobs—all in the name of austerity.

But for IBEW members and their families, more belt-tightening isn't an option. The road to financial prosperity is new jobs, not longer unemployment lines. Across the country there are literally thousands of projects—from new power plants and energy efficient building retrofits to new schools and manufacturing facilities—that are ready to be built.

What is missing is the political will to make them a reality. Regardless of how you voted, it is up to every member of the IBEW to let their lawmakers know—through one-on-one meetings, phone calls, letters and rallies—that we want them to fight for jobs.

In the coming year, we will be featuring stories from IBEW activists who are mobilizing members on the ground to push for good jobs and policies that help working people—laying the foundation for a fairer and more prosperous economy and a stronger union.

Read more: Now What? How Will 'Wave' Election Affect Workers?

Read more: Electoral Divide a Challenge to Working Families

Read more: Getting Involved Locally, 101

Read more: Jobs: A Good Investment

Read more: How NOT to Cut the Deficit

It is up to every IBEW member to let their lawmakers—from City Council to Capitol Hill—know that their priority must be jobs.