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February 2020

From the Officers
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Using Our Power

Right before Christmas, Congress delivered a long-overdue present to working families by approving a bipartisan spending bill that included a repeal of the so-called Cadillac Tax.

The bill killed a 40% excise tax on employer-sponsored health care plans that offer comprehensive and competitive benefits like the IBEW's.

As anyone who has ever sat at the bargaining table knows, we've fought long and hard for our health-care benefits. And we're proud that the IBEW offers our members some of the best health benefits in the entire private sector.

The Cadillac Tax threatened all of that, punishing employers and unions that did the right thing by providing good benefits to employees and making health care more, not less, expensive.

Ever since it was first introduced, its repeal has been one of the IBEW's top legislative priorities.

Year after year, IBEW members made phone calls and met with their members of Congress in person to tell them that the Cadillac Tax was a direct attack on our health care.

We succeeded in forcing its delay, and last year we helped build a strong bipartisan coalition in the House and Senate committed to eliminating it altogether.

As important as our political/legislative team here in D.C. is, it's you, our members, who made the difference.

The greatest strength of the IBEW is that we've got members in nearly every community across North America. And when our we work together as one to change things for the better, it's a power few can match.

That's how we killed the Cadillac Tax. Union members also pushed Congress to pass the American Miners Act, which will save the pensions of tens of thousands of our United Mine Workers brothers and sisters.

Last summer, IBEW members flooded the Labor Department with more than 65,000 comments in defense of our apprenticeship programs.

And it is our members who are going to help Congress pass the Butch-Lewis Act into law and stop Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lamar Alexander's disastrous plan that would destroy healthy pension plans like the IBEW's.

Too often in politics, positive change happens slowly. It's so easy for good ideas that benefit working families and the middle class to get clogged up in partisan fights and legislative gridlock.

But as we saw in just the last few years, deadlock isn't inevitable. Even with today's divided government, the labor movement can still score some critical political victories.

That's why I need every one of you reading these words to take action starting today.

A good place to start is There you will find information on how to contact your senators and encourage them to reject the disastrous Grassley-Alexander plan and protect our pensions.

There is power in our voice and our numbers. Let's use it. Thank you for your activism.


Also: Stephenson: A More Inclusive Union Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer