The Electrical Worker online
May 2016

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Moving Forward Together

A hallmark of the labor movement is the notion of solidarity. There is strength in numbers. At its best, it is a movement that fosters people coming together for the greater good. And we have a history of putting this into action. We did it when we marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement and we do it in smaller ways when we donate to the United Way or volunteer our skills to build a home with Habitat for Humanity. When you believe we are stronger together, there is no shortage of ways to make that happen.

Our brother in Congress, Rep. Donald Norcross, a Democrat and member of Folsom, N.J., Local 351, reached across the aisle to work with Republican Rep. David McKinley to create a building trades caucus. Instead of falling prey to the seemingly endless partisan rancor that has infected our government at all levels, these two are coming together to educate their peers about the value of the trades. It's an excellent example of a better way forward.

The work we do every day is often dangerous and requires a commitment to safety and teamwork. There is no room on a worksite for undermining your co-worker or creating divisions. When our members who work on Washington, D.C.'s Metro transit system were called in for an emergency inspection and repair of an aging structure that supports hundreds of thousands of working men and women in the nation's capital, they showed up and performed like the experts they are. They came together and they got the job done. It's a lesson our politicians could stand to learn.

As the election rhetoric heats up to a near boiling point, we need to remember what we stand for, and it isn't getting ahead at the expense of others. It isn't exploiting those less fortunate for personal gain. It's about shared prosperity. It's about a fair day's pay and investing in people.

When we support our Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, our Women's Caucus and RENEW, we practice the solidarity that will fuel our work for future generations. To truly realize the dream of our founding fathers, to organize all working people in the electrical industry, we need to organize with our arms open. We need to respect our future brothers and sisters, all of them. We're going to have some big battles in the coming days and years, facing immense corporate greed. Our ability to fight back will depend on the power we build today.

The house of labor should be a beacon of hope and solidarity for anyone willing to work hard and contribute to the greater good. That's how we went from 10 men in a boardinghouse to more than 725,000 men and women today. And that is how we will continue to grow and prosper, by fostering our better angels and reminding our brothers and sisters everywhere that a house divided cannot stand, but a house united has unlimited capacity for greatness.


Also: Stephenson: Strengthening Our Foundation Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer