The Electrical Worker online
May 2018

From the Officers
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A Rigged System

Back when I was a business manager, I put a lot of time into thinking about how negotiations were set up. Where was the meeting held? Did we get the easy issues out of the way before moving to the sticking points? If there was an arbitrator, did we have a say in picking them? How many people would each side have in the room?

These aren't minor details, especially when the stakes are high. Because if only one side sets the rules of the negotiation, the other sides have lost before the first meeting.

That's what went through my head as I read this month's cover story about how elected officials across the U.S. are rigging the rules of elections to benefit themselves and not the voters they're supposed to represent. Working people have been hammered because the rules weren't written for us. That has to change.

Over the years, no matter how right organized labor has been about economic, social and industrial policy, the political process has been tilted against working people and we have paid a significant price.

It is a devastating thing to realize, but there is no other conclusion we can draw: the democracy we have right now is not the one we inherited from our parents and grandparents.

When politicians choose their voters instead of the other way around — as they do in most states — there is something at stake greater than which party is putting it over on the other. There is more at stake than our trade, our paychecks and even our safety on the job.

I'm talking about our freedom, our ability to have a say in the country we live in. The system, as it exists today, cuts us out of the conversation. Politicians who set themselves up in non-competitive districts don't have to listen to anyone whose opinion might be different from their own. And that's bad for every citizen, not just union members.

The part that pains me the most is that we have no one to blame but ourselves. In too many places, we failed to show up and make our voices heard, so now our voices are harder to hear.

This November, there can be no excuses. We know what is at stake. Read through that article again if you aren't 100 percent clear, and then every one of us needs to get to the polls and elect only candidates who commit to fair redistricting reform that puts power back where it belongs — with the people.


Also: Stephenson: Remembering Dr. King's Labor Legacy Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer