The Electrical Worker online
October 2013

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
All in to Win?

Five years in from the start of the worst economic recession in recent history, things are finally looking up for the IBEW. Our members are going back to work and some big projects are coming down the pike that could potentially mean thousands of jobs.

And we're seeing an increasing number of organizing wins — both in construction and professional and industrial, including inspiring victories that were showcased at this year's Membership Development conference last month.

Good news, sure. But is it enough? Are we as a union doing everything we can to follow our mandate to organize every single electrical worker in North America under one roof?

As I told conference attendees: No.

I see the effort put in every day to organize — at the International Office, at the districts, at the locals and in the field. We're working. We're trying.

But the truth is, as an organization, we're still not all in. Too many leaders and members still don't get that it's our future on the line if we don't grow.

Don't believe me? Take a look around in your neighborhood. What jobs aren't being done by us? How many IBEW stickers do you see on the helmets or trucks by the newest construction site?

What about the folks who install your cable or satellite TV service? Or those who bring you the news or assemble electrical parts? Are they union?

It doesn't help to say 'But look at this big project we got.' Or 'We represent the boys down at the power plant.'

Let me be blunt. If most of electrical work in your area is being done nonunion, then we're in trouble. And the truth is that pretty much sums up the situation in every part of North America right now.

We developed some bad habits during the IBEW's heyday in the 50s and 60s, but the worst one is the idea that we're an exclusive club.

Reality check. We're not the Elks Lodge and if we're not doing everything we can, digging deep for every tool at our disposal, to organize and recruit every worker in our respective industries, then the IBEW's future is precarious at best.

And that means buy-in from everyone — from the rank-and-file on up to my office.

We've made some important strides forward. Let's all pull together to keep this Brotherhood alive and thriving for another 120 years and beyond.


Also: Chilia: Storm Responders in Your Neighborhood Read Chilia's Column

Edwin D. Hill

Edwin D. Hill
International President