The Electrical Worker online
March 2018

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Voting Matters

If you have ever doubted the power of one person's vote, pay close attention to the story on the page opposite this column. You'll read about last November's election in Virginia, where control of the entire state House of Delegates — and the future of pro-worker legislation — came down to just one vote.

A delegates' race ended in a tie, with the final decision of who would take the seat left to a random drawing of names from a bowl. The Republican candidate won, leaving the GOP with control of Virginia's legislature by a single seat.

Just one vote would have made all the difference in the world when it came time to pass pro-worker legislation.

It is just another reminder of the importance of every single member of the IBEW getting out to vote in every election.

Because when it comes to issues that matter to working families — whether it's health and safety regulations, protecting the right of employees to collectively bargain, or prevailing wage laws — elections have consequences.

It is important that not only do we vote, but we make sure our families vote as well. There are too many politicians out there coming after the good wages and our strong health care and retirement benefits for your family to stay home.

But the Virginia election is also a reminder of the political maxim made famous by former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill: "All politics is local."

It is at the state and local level where some of the most important decisions are made regarding the issues that matter to the IBEW. Issues like right-to-work, prevailing wage and public workers' rights are being fought in statehouses across the country. And we need to be part of that struggle.

It is also on the state level where congressional and state legislative districts will be redrawn in just two years. Some politicians have abused the redistricting process to draw district boundaries which serve only to maximize their party's votes at the expense of the public will. The process has driven out moderates and left us with no space for compromise and working together, two of America's founding principles.

Gerrymandering has also minimized the voices of union members and encouraged the election of politicians more interested in appeasing ultra-right wing special interests than building a bipartisan commitment to help our middle-class.

Even on the county or city level, issues like project labor agreements, infrastructure spending and workplace protections are increasingly on the top of many lawmakers' agendas. And the IBEW must be part of the discussion.

But we can only do that if IBEW members and their families vote.

Many men and women gave their lives so we could enjoy the right to vote. And as easy as it is to be cynical about politics, it can only change if each and every one of us exercises that right and makes sure the IBEW is heard at the ballot box.


Also: Stephenson: Safety: Job No. 1 Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer