The Electrical Worker online
September 2019

From the Officers
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Speaking Up for Workers

This was a busy summer for those of us committed to bettering the lives of working families.

Here in Washington, we were able to push several of our highest priorities to passage in the House of Representatives, and we just wrapped up a major effort to preserve the quality of IBEW apprenticeships at the Department of Labor.

We asked each of you to help through stories here in the Electrical Worker, on or in messages from your local union, and you delivered.

To those of you who made calls or wrote letters, thank you.

In the late days of July, the U.S. House passed the Butch Lewis Act, something you've read about many times in these pages. It's a loan program to help preserve retirement security for millions of Americans who have multiemployer pensions like many of those run by the IBEW.

International Secretary-Treasurer Cooper's column below will go into more detail, but I'll just say that we were only able to get that bill passed because IBEW leaders showed up when we asked and members made calls and sent emails to their representatives of Congress.

Days before that, the House overwhelmingly passed a repeal of the "Cadillac Tax," a well-meaning but misguided tax on high-quality health care plans like many of those negotiated by IBEW locals. The tax was meant to curb excessive health care giveaways to CEOs and corporate executives, but it eventually swallowed up union members who'd given up raises or other compensation to negotiate for better benefits. Republicans and Democrats in the House were able to agree that punishing working people was a mistake, and IBEW members were a key part of the coalition that made that happen.

But now, as Labor Day is here and lawmakers are back in Washington, we need your help again. Both of these bills could end up like mountains of other legislation — stuck in the Senate without a vote on the floor.

No matter which party your senators represent, I need you to pick up the phone or fire up your email and let them know that Butch Lewis (Senate Bill 2254) and the Cadillac Tax repeal (House Resolution 748) deserve a vote and that working families will be watching closely.

You'll be hearing more from us on issues like these, because Kenny and I and your district vice presidents and business managers can only do what we do if we're backed up by all of you. An engaged, collective voice speaking out for working people is what union brotherhood is all about.

I know some of you get sick of politics. Believe me, it gets overwhelming for all of us. But if we're not out there sticking up for important issues, then no one is looking out for working families. We don't have armies of highly-paid corporate lobbyists. We have you, and when you're speaking out with a single voice, there's nothing more powerful.

Thank you for sticking with us and speaking out for working people.

Find your senators at

Also: Cooper: A Win for Pension Promises Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President