The Electrical Worker online
January 2017

From the Officers
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How Everyone Can Organize

One of our most important organizing victories in recent memory, the Electrolux factory in Memphis, Tenn., got its start in an unexpected place: the parking lot of a liquor store.

Stanley Reese worked at Electrolux, and because of the low wages, he also worked a second job at a liquor store. He mentioned, one day, how fed up he and his co-workers were at Electrolux, about the broken promises and low wages, and that they were thinking of forming a union. A customer, whose name Reese never even got, suggested he call the IBEW.

At the Membership Development Conference in November, we heard more about one of the most successful organizing campaigns we've had in years. Thousands of line maintenance workers at Asplundh have been voting one crew at a time to join the IBEW. New brothers and sisters are reaching out to nonunion Asplundh workers, telling them about the IBEW.

A few years ago, the IBEW organized nearly all of the assistant attorneys general in New Jersey when a law professor suggested to an unhappy former law student that the IBEW could help.

A lot of people look in the mirror and don't see an organizer. They think there is some magic to it, some training they need in convincing nonunion workers about joining the IBEW.

That's why I bring up these stories. I hope everyone can see there's no magic to organizing. Our members are constantly letting us know about nonunion family members who maybe are thinking they'd be better off with a collective bargaining unit.

Every day, our brothers and sisters talk with people they used to work with. Maybe they hear the disappointment of working a job that doesn't treat you with dignity, changes your schedule without your control, doesn't reward good work or punishes people for insisting on safety on the job.

Then they bring that to their business manager or the local's organizers. And as you can see, thousands of new members join the IBEW and there are new possibilities for them and their families.

That is what we mean when we say "Organize, organize, organize."

That's the organizing we can all do.


Also: Stephenson: The Nuclear Option Read Stephenson's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer