The Electrical Worker online
October 2014

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Hanging Together — or Separately?

During the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin understood that the colonists were walking a razor's edge between victory and demise. Staring down the threat of treason — and execution, should they fail — he said, "We must all hang together or we will surely hang separately," as he signed the Declaration of Independence.

Those of us fighting for the rights of working people should heed that warning because we too are engaged in a struggle for our very survival against powerful politicians and wealthy corporations who are hell-bent on making sure we don't hang together.

That's why we are doubling down on our efforts to grow the Brotherhood.

In September, officers and activists met in Las Vegas for our annual Membership Development conference. It was a time for us to talk, learn, regroup and strategize for the fights ahead.

We discussed how, in 2013, we registered a slight increase in membership. To be sure, the percentage was small, but it constituted a step in the right direction.

Now, we need to turn small steps into ground-gripping strides. In coming months, we will discuss construction organizing. Right now, I want to focus on getting back to the practice of internal organizing in the professional and industrial sector.

It's not a new idea. Internal organizing was a key ingredient of our program that got started in earnest in 2006. It yielded results then, and will again — if we get it right.

Internal organizing starts in the right-to-work states. Unfortunately, there are two more of them in recent years — Indiana and Michigan. Other states, like Wisconsin, have enacted what amounts to limited right-to-work for public sector employees.

Here's the task: a recommitment to the most fundamental goal of all — increasing our membership. This being said, we should not rest until we have turned every possible non-member in our units into members. Now, some of them are hard-core union haters. Others only want a free ride. But that leaves a significant number of persuadable folks who are already benefiting from the work of the IBEW. They understand at some level that they need us. Well, we need them too. These are the first — of many — people we need to bring onboard.

Or, to sum it all up in a couple of words, organizing and building our membership leads to growth, augmenting our collective voice and expanding and strengthening our influence in the industries we represent. This way, we stand a better chance of fighting back against those who want to take everything we have, who would love to see us hang separately.


Also: Chilia: At Risk in November Read Chilia's Column

Edwin D. Hill

Edwin D. Hill
International President