August 2011

Working Families Unite to Hold Lawmakers Accountable
index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to

Accountability. It is something members of the IBEW know a lot about. From wiring buildings to stringing line, quality, safety and a hard day's work are the norm—each day, every day.

And this summer IBEW members are joining with other activists to bring that same kind of accountability to Capitol Hill and state legislatures across the country.

"We have no choice but to keep their feet to the fire," says Portland, Maine Local 567 Training Director Don Berry, who also serves as the president of the Maine AFL-CIO. "Voters expected our representatives to focus on fixing the economy, but instead we've seen nothing but wave after wave of anti-worker legislation."

Jobs and the economy are the voters' No. 1 priority, but too many elected officials have put the needs of their big corporate and Wall Street bankrollers first. Legislators have pushed bills to slash good jobs, reduce wages, make workplaces less safe, hobble Medicare and erode retirement savings.

And freshmen governors like Scott Walker (Wis.), John Kasich (Ohio), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Paul LePage (Maine) have launched all-out assaults on the rights of workers to collectively bargain.

At the federal level, nearly every congressional Republican backed House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's austerity plan, which calls for slashing $4.5 trillion in government spending, with the cuts falling hardest on the middle class and poor. Most controversially, his plan effectively eliminates Medicare as we know it.

"Too many politicians are trying to make the rich richer and poor poorer," says Denver Local 111 Assistant Business Manager Timio Archuleta. "What they should be doing is helping the middle class."

The August congressional break means many members of Congress will be in their home districts, holding town halls. Pro-worker activists are using the summer recess to alert anti-worker politicians—from the statehouse on up—that it is time to end the war on working people.

The We Are One Web site——is an online hub for those looking to connect with actions in their area, from workplace leafleting to knocking on doors.

Meanwhile, the fight to protect workers' rights on the state level continues. In Ohio, activists gathered an unprecedented 1.3 million signatures in support of a public referendum repealing the anti-worker Senate Bill 5 in June.

The bill bans public employees from striking and restricts collective bargaining for more than 35,000 Ohio workers, police officers, teachers and others.

"This isn't just about public sector workers," says Hamilton Local 648 Business Manager Frank Cloud. "The bill would drive wages down and there would be less money for local governments to spend. It's a race to the bottom."

Activists are organizing training sessions throughout the state to mobilize voters against SB 5.

In Wisconsin, working families are knocking on doors and making phone calls in their efforts to recall six state senators who supported Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining for public workers. The election is scheduled for August 9.

Anti-union special interest groups tried to disrupt the process by putting up fake candidates in the Democratic primaries in July, hiking the cost to Wisconsin voters by forcing two elections. But voters weren't fooled; they supported the real Democrats in all six races.

"The shameful and despicable GOP tactic to delay judgment day for the 'Walker 6' by running fake Democrats needlessly cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars," says Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale. "This GOP trickery fell flat. The people of Wisconsin are serious."

"We have to take our government back from the corporate special interests," Berry says. "And it starts at the grassroots. We need members and their families to make their voices heard."

IBEW members joined the tens of thousands of Ohioans who protested anti-worker Senate Bill 5.

What You Can Do
  • Talk to your representative: Find out when your senator or member of Congress is scheduled to host a public town hall meeting. Ask them about their record and where they stand on working family issues. Go to www.
    to contact your local representative.

  • Write a letter to the editor. Tell the truth about the attacks on working people and let readers know why protecting workers' rights are more important than ever.

  • Go to to find actions in your area and connect with other
    pro-worker activists.

  • Register to vote.