The Electrical Worker online
June 2020

From the Officers
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Responding to Crisis

So many IBEW members have risen to meet the challenges of this historic pandemic both on and off the job over the last several months. The stories in these pages, and the many more I've heard from members and local leaders, fill me with pride for this brotherhood of ours.

As so many of our two nations' people stay home to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19, we know that so many of you are continuing to work, keeping the machinery of the electric and communications grids and other critical infrastructure running.

Many construction sites are operating close to normal, and with such a large and diverse membership, we know feelings about that are divided. It's why we've taken steps to help members and local unions work with contractors to provide options both to those who want to work and to those who have family obligations and legitimate fears about potential exposure to the virus.

The absolute most important thing to me — and to everyone at the IBEW — is that you go home safe at the end of the day.

That's not new or unique to life during this pandemic. It's always been at the heart of the IBEW, from the time when 10 delegates gathered in St. Louis in 1891 to form this union.

It's why we work with state and federal safety regulators and press lawmakers to strengthen protections for workers on the job. It's why we collectively bargain for better working conditions and quality health care with our employers and contractors.

But we know that looks a little different right now. The usual worries are still there, but now every person we come into contact with is a potential risk to us and to our families.

That's why it's incumbent on every one of us to take the proper precautions to protect ourselves and one another. Personal protective equipment has always been important, but it's even more important now. You're not just wearing a mask or gloves for you. You're doing it for your own families and for the families of everyone you come into contact with, including your IBEW sisters and brothers.

Many people spread this virus before they ever know they're sick, if they even show symptoms at all, so wearing a mask at all times is a small price to pay to save lives.

Rest assured, we're still working with officials and employers to make sure you have all the PPE you need, but it's on you to wear it, and to wear it properly. Taking care of one another is what union solidarity is all about.

Stay strong and stay safe, brothers and sisters, and thank you for proving every day that IBEW members are the backbone of the communities we serve.


Also: Stephenson: Leading the Way Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer