The Electrical Worker online
May 2016

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Strengthening Our Foundation

Just four months from now, the IBEW will be coming together in St. Louis for our 39th Convention and marking our 125th anniversary in the place where we began.

Not only are we returning to our roots physically, over the last few years the IBEW has been returning to some of our founding ideas.

There was a time in this union, and organized labor generally, where all too often, existing members pulled up the ladder behind them. They began to think the purpose of a union was to look out for the people who were in it and build walls to keep everybody else out. I don't need to tell you what a disaster this was.

As a union and a community, we have made enormous strides in putting those misguided days behind us.

I think we are now making it clear that every working man and woman deserves the benefits that come from unity in the workplace. It is as true today as it was when the 10 founders of the IBEW made it the first goal of the Brotherhood:

"To organize all workers in the entire electrical industry in the United States and Canada, including all those in public utilities and electrical manufacturing, into local unions."

All workers.

Sometimes the efforts look huge, like our organizing campaign at Asplundh, which is bringing thousands of new people to the IBEW.

Sometimes the effort may look a bit humbler. In this issue of the Electrical Worker there is a story about the Tulsa, Okla., JATC seeking every opportunity to make the IBEW realistic for everyone. They applied for, and won, a federal grant to help first-year apprentices afford the hundreds of dollars of tools and books they need to earn their journeyman's ticket.

Over a lifetime, a union electrician will make tens of thousands of dollars more than nonunion workers. That kind of money changes not just a life but can create opportunity and security for multiple generations. What a tragedy it would be if the want of a few hundred dollars became a wall that stood in the way. For the apprentice who benefits, this is no small act.

Americans are hungry for opportunities that promise an honest wage for honest work.

So remember: in our grand mission to give everyone the opportunity for a decent wage, reliable insurance, and a dignified retirement, no opening is too small for our attention and every effort deserves our praise.


Also: Chilia: Moving Forward Together Read Chilia's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President