The Electrical Worker online
February 2014

From the Officers
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Diverse Pathways to Community Engagement

In Los Angeles, men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but arrived home to find jobs scarce come together at Local 11's hall to hear IBEW members testify about the opportunities that come with a union card. Three thousand miles away, apprentice electricians from Long Island, N.Y., Local 25 accompany a caravan of citizens in wheelchairs through the streets of New York City to raise funds to fight the dreadful disease named after baseball hero Lou Gehrig. And up north, members of Syracuse Local 97 and Jamestown Local 106 mobilize thousands of members and citizens to win the retrofitting of a historic coal-fired power plant that was scheduled to close, saving the jobs of IBEW utility members and helping prevent the devastation of their communities.

The dramatic stories in this issue of the Electrical Worker validate many pathways to community engagement, multiple routes to an identical goal — building the IBEW's respect and influence — a major theme of the 38th International Convention in Vancouver.

President Hill and I are always excited to hear about so many other examples of local unions that tap the initiative and pride of members and retirees to reach out to their neighbors.

Brothers and sisters, whatever our individual politics, cultural tastes or geography, there is no better time than now to call upon our creativity to defeat a poisonous narrative that brands all union members as selfish and concerned only about our own wages, our own benefits and our own jobs.

When you hear about some exemplary community engagement effort by a sister local — one just down the road or a thousand miles away — pick up the phone or send an e-mail, give them some praise and get some new ideas. And when you replicate their success in your own backyard, pass the lessons on.

We've received many favorable responses to the IBEW's efforts to tell our union's story through a national advertising campaign. Great images on TV are even more powerful when they are reinforced by our solid acts in our own cities and towns.


Also: Hill: The Debate We Need to Have Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer