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October 2017

From the Officers
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The Toughest Job We Have

In late August, I had the honor to attend the biggest Membership Development conference in IBEW history.

As I told conference attendees, I attend a lot of meetings as your international president. And with all respect to our different branches and districts, the truth is this: Membership Development is the most important meeting we hold.

Organizing is the lifeblood of this union. Unless we are constantly growing and bringing in new members and new employers, then we are dying.

And a dying union is in no position to protect all the good things — decent wages, strong benefits, top-quality training — previous generations of IBEW members have won.

Just hearing the stories at this conference made it clear that we are not a dying union.

Across the United States and Canada, we are seeing more and more victories — from Baltimore Gas and Electric in Maryland to broadcasting freelancers in Massachusetts.

And due to innovative new business development and organizing programs, we are signing up more contractors and winning more jobs long before the ground is even broken on some projects.

We have not seen membership numbers like this since before the 2008 recession.

We are headed in the right direction. But this is not the time to let up on the gas. Because even as we are pulling in record numbers, we continue to lose members due to layoffs, shutdowns and membership drops, making our net gain pretty modest.

Real progress in rebuilding labor's power requires us to take our organizing to the next level.

Every single local in every single branch must have a plan to recruit and grow. There is no question that organizing is the toughest job we have, especially in this political climate.

But over and over again, we are showing that we can fight and win.

The International Office is always ready to help. We have a big toolbox to assist locals in developing their own organizing plan.

But true organizing is not something that can come from the top down. It must come from the bottom up. And that starts with you: our officers and activists on the local level.

We all must be organizers if we want the IBEW to be there for the next generation of working people.


Also: Cooper: Our Kind of Town Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President