The Electrical Worker online
April 2018

From the Officers
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It's Time to Stand Up

By now, you've all heard about the Supreme Court's looming decision that could seriously damage our public-sector brothers and sisters in the IBEW and across the labor community.

The Washington Post called Janus v. AFSCME "the most important union rights case of the century," and they're not far off.

If you ask the anti-union right, the people like the National Right to Work Foundation who are bankrolling this case, they'll tell you it's about freedom of speech or about union dues and whether people have a right not to pay them.

But let me tell you what the case is really about: power — taking away the rights and resources of working men and women.

It's about the ability of the little guy — working families like yours and mine — to join together so we're able to stand up to giant corporations and special interests.

Unions have always been a way to pool our resources so we can compete with the millionaires and billionaires who want to shut us up, to pay us less than we're worth and to squeeze us out of the political process.

By weakening your union, they're trying to silence you, trying to take away your power.

The Supreme Court is tilted against us. During oral arguments before the Court in February, it didn't sound like this was a fight we were going to win. If all goes as expected, public-sector workers — union members who work for state and local governments or public utilities, law enforcement, teachers and more — will essentially be living under a nationwide right-to-work law by the end of the year.

Trust me, brothers and sisters, they will not stop there. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

When the Republicans blocked Barack Obama's Supreme Court appointment for more than a year, this was the kind of case they were planning to win — and they took that unprecedented step because of pressure from the same donors behind Janus.

They want to make sure our resources are cut to make it more difficult for us to stand together. So, we have to work harder. We must educate the nonmembers that they're better off with the union and the true strength that comes from every worker standing together.

We also have to get active. We have to get active in our locals, active in our communities and, yes, active in the political process.

Come November, we have to elect representatives at every level of government who are going to reject the politics of weakening working families for the benefit of the wealthy. We have to stop the spread of right-to-work and start rolling it back in places like Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin and more.

If every one of us vows to step up and fight back, we won't find ourselves on the losing side of battles like Janus in the future. We'll be riding the wave of a resurgent middle class to a better tomorrow. This is the battle of our time; how future generations of electrical workers will remember us. Together, we're going to make it happen.


Also: Stephenson: Making Green Jobs Good Jobs Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer