The Electrical Worker online
June 2018

From the Officers
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All Politics is Local

Over the last few months, I've been pleased to see elected officials and aspiring politicians posting online about their trips to union halls and training centers.

Whether it was Illinois Democratic nominee for governor J.B. Pritzker visiting Local 364's training center in Rockford to learn about apprenticeships or Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick speaking to our Political and Legislative Conference, we welcome politicians of all stripes to learn about what makes the IBEW — and the labor movement — special.

In March, one of our own, Rep. Donald Norcross, an inside wireman from Folsom, N.J., Local 351, led a bipartisan delegation from the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on a tour of Washington, D.C., Local 26's training center. The members learned the value of union apprenticeships, which come at no cost to taxpayers, and allow future tradesmen and women to earn while they learn and help meet the growing skilled labor shortage in North America.

In April, Long Island, N.Y., Local 1049 sent Rep. Tom Suozzi 40 feet up a utility pole — literally — to learn about what sets the IBEW apart from our competition.

I tell you this because it's an election season, and that doesn't just mean us pitching in to help politicians who promise to do right by working people and unions. It also means educating those politicians on the issues that are important to us.

Whether you're represented by Republicans or Democrats, reach out and invite your elected officials to an event or to tour your training center. Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, city councilors — there's not a politician around who couldn't benefit from learning a little more about what the IBEW has to offer our communities.

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio said it best at our Political and Legislative Conference this year: "I want to talk about the issues that matter to the men and women who take a shower after work." Find those politicians, and then bend their ears.

You and I know there's a lot of rhetoric out there about unions, especially on the right, but we know the truth. If you want a job done right the first time, if you want a safe, educated workforce who shows up on time and works eight for eight, you hire union.

President Stephenson and I shout it from the rooftops to every group we talk to, but all of our talk doesn't match the power of you reaching out to your local representatives. They want your support in November, so trust me, they're listening.

Between now and November, you'll be hearing from a lot of candidates and elected officials who want your vote. Seize that opportunity and establish a dialogue. Let those folks know about the issues that are important to your local and its members, and make sure they know about the good work you're doing in your communities.

The alternative is more attacks on prevailing wage, more states pushing destructive right-to-work laws and more attacks on working families. We can fight back, but only if we start today.


Also: Stephenson: Planning for Victory Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer