The Electrical Worker online
November 2015

From the Officers
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Making the Hard Work Count

After a decade-long effort to bring the IBEW back to its root commitment of organizing, we are seeing the results. We are welcoming tens of thousands of new members into the IBEW each year. We owe a great debt of gratitude to generations of members, organizers and international and local officers for accepting that the future of organized labor was in our hands.

Today, we have more 'A' members than at any time in our history. That can seem like inside baseball. Overall membership is still far below where we were in the 1970s.

But 'A' members' higher dues support the IBEW-run Pension Benefit Fund, and 'A' members can hold certain offices in the brotherhood and vote on any issue at our convention. While 'A' membership has historically been a measure of outside linemen and inside wiremen, any IBEW member is eligible to upgrade. Record 'A' membership is a good sign we should all be proud of.

Now we have to keep them.

While we bring in tens of thousands of new members every year, we watch thousands of them leave. An important part of retaining new members is, of course, the next job, and the construction industry is, by its nature by-the-job. The No. 1 reason people leave the IBEW is lack of a union job.

I understand that it isn't our job to find a project for a contractor, an order for a factory or a permit to build a new power plant for a utility. We do the work, we don't run the business.

But if you go back to our founding 124 years ago, the original members of the IBEW didn't need a union job to stay a union member. The difference between a scab and a brother is not about who is signing the paycheck. It is about whose signature is on the union card, who goes to meetings, who pays their dues and sees every moment as a chance to spread the word: the only path to a decent wage and a dignified retirement is for working people to stick together.

That is a job for every member of the IBEW. It is the new challenge for the IBEW.


Also: Stephenson: Recruiting the Next Generation Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer