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March 2016

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Labor in the Balance

I read the troubling article, "The Right Asks the Court to Curb Unions" in the January issue about the U.S. Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, based on the First Amendment. I honestly can't imagine what freedom of speech has to do with paying your union dues.

I come away with the impression that this is yet another thinly veiled effort backed by the right to establish a national right-to-work law. Our union brothers and sisters have spent countless hours and resources to fight this legislation since I came into the IBEW in 1974. It continues to rear its ugly head here in Colorado, but it miraculously has not been passed here yet. The Friedrichs case is another attack against our brotherhood and it must be vigorously fought. The future of organized labor may hang in the balance based on the decision of those judges.

If you don't think your vote counts, remember Supreme Court judges are appointed by sitting presidents and once in, they are there for life. Whatever it takes, brothers and sisters, this case deserves our full attention. Petition your senators and members of Congress and let them know how you feel about this issue. The future of our unions may depend on it!!

Doug Szabo, Local 68 retiree

Recognizing IBEW's Women

As someone who remembers the sting of my steward's words in the early 1980s: "Just because we have to take you in doesn't mean anything has to change because you're here!" I thank you for the January issue. From (p. 1) Business Rep Eliot Hecht's phrasing, "the men and women who built Local 3" to Local 77's moving tribute to Heidi Durham (p. 11), and much in between, it was heartening to see women's importance and leadership recognized.

Susan Eisenberg, Local 103 retiree

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Giving Back

How grateful I am that our predecessors had the insight to establish a union that allowed myself and others to earn a decent wage and benefits during our lifetimes. This has been a privilege for which I am most appreciative.

I was able to put my wife and our four children through college while enjoying a lifestyle that was made possible for 36 years by the IBEW. I have now been retired for 10 years. My wife and I have had a wonderful retirement because of a pension made possible by being a member of the IBEW.

Please accept my donation to the Electrical Workers Historical Society for the renovation of the Henry Miller house into a museum. I hope that myself and every other member gets to visit this historical site when it is complete. Thank you for your effort toward this project.

Erhardt "Butch" Bruder, Local 692 retiree
Bay City, Mich.

Thanks. But No Thanks.

How many voters do you hear asking for right-to-work legislation? Zero. There is no positive impact in this legislation. It doesn't create jobs. It doesn't improve working conditions. It doesn't increase wages or benefits.

The only thing it does is lower wages and increase profits for business. Don't believe me? Ask Wisconsin workers. Ask Michigan workers. Every single politician who pushes for right-to-work legislation in any state should get their walking papers in the next election, regardless if they are successful.

Robert DeNoto, Local 86 member
Rochester, N.Y.