The Electrical Worker online
December 2013

From the Officers
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In 2013, Much Progress, Miles to Go

As we enter the holiday season and make plans for the New Year, I am humbled by the commitment of so many of our union's members. Whether you hail from big cities or small towns, from the Arctic tundra or the shores of Guam, our brothers and sisters in every branch of our organization work tirelessly to earn the respect of our neighbors and those who benefit from our labor.

We have a message for those powerful corporations or policy makers in Washington and Ottawa who disrespect and dishonor the hard work of our members and our union's mission: Our legacy is indelible. We will not go into a defensive crouch. We will never be satisfied as long as any of our members are out of work. And we will keep our ears, our hearts and the doors of the IBEW open to workers inside and outside our ranks who need a voice on the job.

Our mission is not bluster or rhetoric. In 2013, in the midst of a slow recovery, local unions across our jurisdictions adopted innovations to help our signatory contractors staff projects small and large — from data centers in the Utah desert to the world's largest yogurt plant in Idaho to wind farms from Alaska to Maine.

Our union's new business development team is building solid relationships with end users that can only help put more inside and outside electricians to work. Our Code of Excellence has now been tailored for six of our key industries and continues to win respect for our Brotherhood. And we have taken giant steps in modernizing our NJATC training programs to upgrade members' skills and turn out a new generation of journeymen.

Members and non-members are complimenting the IBEW's national TV advertising campaign, which has helped reconnect us in the public's mind with quality work and commitment to community. We have seen an exciting spike in unorganized workers contacting our union asking for help. And our union is winning more representation elections than any other international union, even in hard-pressed sectors like manufacturing.

On the political front, our local unions have helped win major, but often unsung, victories that save jobs and protect our members' standard of living — from passing legislation in Austin, Texas, to stopping anti-union contractors who misclassify their workers as independent contractors to mobilizing in Nebraska and California and other states to block municipalities from privatizing public services.

We have staked out positions on everything from EPA's policies on coal-fired power plants to problems with the Affordable Care Act, putting the needs of our members first, not winning favor with politicians.

Our union's future will depend upon young workers who will not only fill the shoes of leaders who retire, but who will take our collective bargaining, organizing, political and community engagement work to new heights. In 2013, we hosted our union's first young member RENEW Conference to provide an ongoing forum and training for these emerging activists and leaders.

Paraphrasing the words of the great poet Robert Frost, "We have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep." I wish all of our members a healthy and prosperous holiday season and New Year. Let us continue to carry the proud legacy of the IBEW into the year ahead.


Also: Chilia: The Hidden Anti-Worker Network Read Chilia's Column

Edwin D. Hill

Edwin D. Hill
International President