The Electrical Worker online
February 2018

From the Officers
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Don't Get Mad. Vote

The late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

This issue of the Electrical Worker is packed with some hard-hitting facts about how working people and the labor movement have fared under this administration and Congress in the last year, and regardless of your political affiliation or who you voted for, it is hard to argue that the record is anything but disastrous.

Our report speaks for itself, but here are just a few of the worst attacks on our rights at work since January 2017:

  • The Trump administration reversed two labor law reforms, making it easier for employers to use union-busting firms to intimidate employees and harder for workers at some of the nation's biggest employers to hold those companies responsible for labor law violations. 1

  • It put on hold a Department of Labor protection that forced financial advisors to put their clients' needs first, not kickbacks to their industry friends. 2

  • It killed a rule that required federal contractors to comply with labor and wage laws 3

  • And it reversed a decision that allowed union safety experts to join OSHA inspectors in workplace safety visits 4

Then late last year, right before the holidays, Congress passed a tax bill that did nothing for middle class families. It was a massive giveaway to big multinational corporations and the top 1 percent — who would receive 83 percent of all tax cuts — while providing minimal or nonexistent tax cuts for most everyone else. In fact, more than 70 million households making less than $100,000 a year will see their taxes rise over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Making matters worse, Speaker Paul Ryan announced he intends to come after your Social Security and Medicare next, vowing to slash spending on both programs later this year. What he doesn't tell you is that he's attacking your retirement security because he and his fellow Republicans blew a $1.5 trillion hole in the federal deficit with the tax bill's giveaways to the very richest Americans.

While it gets less attention than the goings on in the White House and on Capitol Hill, it's in the states where the labor movement has absorbed some of the worst damage. Since 2010, three states have repealed prevailing wage laws and five have passed right-to-work legislation.

We want to make perfectly clear that the IBEW is not a partisan organization. We are not out to bash Republicans — certainly not our brothers and sisters who happen to support them. But if you care about this union and cherish the good things it has brought you, then the question you must ask is this: how do any of the policies we describe — whether coming from Donald Trump, Paul Ryan or Scott Walker — help you? Do they strengthen our rights and ability to collectively bargain for good wages and benefits? Do they make our workplaces safer and guarantee unions have a place at the table when it comes to safety? Do they help create an economy that rewards hard work and encourages economic opportunity regardless of one's financial background? Or do they weaken everything we fight for?

We know all too well that the Democratic Party has let us down in the past, that the party has sometimes ignored the needs of working people or that some of its representatives have fallen short when it comes to issues like energy and trade.

But this is not about party. It is about stopping those who want to use their legislative power to hurt the labor movement and working families. And it is about making sure that we are using our power and knowledge as IBEW members to help make positive change happen — from the bottom up.

We can only do that if every single IBEW member is registered to vote. That's the first step. The second step is making sure you are part of your local's grassroots political program.

Believe us; these programs are not about pushing a party line. They are about asking the hard questions of candidates from each party, clarifying who will stand with the IBEW on the issues that matter to our families and us and holding every elected representative accountable to their promises. And they're about talking about those issues with your co-workers and families.

This November, we have the chance to choose all 435 members of the House of Representatives 33 of our senators, 39 governors and thousands of members of state legislatures from New England to Alaska.

So, if you don't like what is happening to your future, to your family's future — whether in Washington or in your state's legislature — and if you're concerned about the direction our nation is headed, then don't get mad. Get mobilized.


Edwin D. Hill

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer