The Electrical Worker online
June 2018

From the Officers
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Planning for Victory

I've always said there is no part of the U.S. where workers can't win. And when nearly 700 Atlanta Gas Light employees joined our ranks in April — deep in the right-to-work South — we proved it.

You will read more about their victory in next month's Electrical Worker, but I want to talk about what it means now, while the ink on Atlanta Local 1997's new charter is still drying.

Three years ago, when I had just become International President, I asked our Membership Development Department to come up with a new vision for organizing professional and industrial workers.

We were a changed union since the last strategic vision had been written nearly a decade before. My predecessors — Ed Hill, J.J. Barry and their staffs — transformed the IBEW into something it had not been for decades: an organizing union.

They understood a truth about labor in the 21st century: we would grow, or we would die, and they refused to lead this proud organization into the grave.

The plan we developed was bold and simple: pick better targets.

We would start with large companies we know, where corporate leaders know our members are the most productive workers in the business, places we believed we could win, of course, but also where we could get a contract and turn those election wins into what truly matters: changed lives and new members.

That is, in part, how we won at AGL. Its parent company, Southern Company, employs thousands of our members at utilities across the South. We've worked with them to bring fair contracts and a voice at work to those brothers and sisters, and we're confident we'll be able to do it again in Atlanta once negotiations get going.

But we can't just stop there. Every worker in our industry needs to know about everything the IBEW has to offer. And we need to sign them up. Whether it's a three-person shop or a big utility. Because with the unemployment rate low and union popularity high, this is a unique opportunity to really grow the IBEW.

Our membership development efforts have made so many strides in the last decade.

We know how to train unstoppable volunteer organizers, when to send our own professional organizers and how best to deploy them when they arrive. We have honed our message for years and deliver it through veterans of dozens of victories.

We won't win every campaign, but we will never give up and never leave any part of our industry behind. This is the next step in our growth, and, with your help, I believe you'll be reading a lot more stories like the one at AGL in the near future.


Also: Cooper: All Politics is Local Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President