The Electrical Worker online
August 2020

From the Officers
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Responding to Crisis

As I've heard stories of members and locals responding to the COVID-19 crisis both on and off the job these last five months, I've been filled with pride for this brotherhood of ours.

As secretary-treasurer, there's no job I take more seriously than my responsibility for your pension and health plans. Your health and your retirement security are always at the top of my mind, especially in times of crisis.

Over the last 14 years, we've grown the IBEW/NECA Family Medical Care Plan into a thriving health care option for locals and employers who choose to participate. The numbers tell an impressive story: We now have more than 100,000 people covered by the plan in all 50 states.

Because we've chosen to manage our own health care, we're able to respond more quickly to events like COVID-19. With our NECA partners, the FMCP has the ability to be more agile than large corporate plans to meet the immediate needs of IBEW participants and their dependents.

It's that flexibility that has allowed us to cover the costs associated with testing for and treatment of COVID-19 with no deductibles or side charges and to flex to cover telemedicine visits for participants who aren't able to have an in-person visit with a doctor. The plan's Live Health Online app has been invaluable in getting participants access to a real doctor from the safety of home.

But times like these aren't just for responding to crisis. They're about planning for the future. And that's another place FMCP can be a real tool for our local unions. Its benefits are usually equal to or better than company-offered plans, and as employers look to save costs, we can often provide the same health benefits at better rates because we don't spend a dime on advertising or shareholder profits.

The FMCP has proven to be a terrific tool for retaining members and for bringing in new ones, too. This year, six new individual bargaining units have signed on, bringing us to a total of 243, including at seven Fortune 500 companies.

For any local union leader who hears talk of cutting health benefits in response to this crisis, your first call should be to FMCP to see if there's a better way. Or start online at

Our goal, as always, is to give our local unions and our members the tools to take care of our families. That's even more important in turbulent times like these, and I promise we're on the job, working harder than ever.

Stay strong and stay safe, brothers and sisters, and thank you for the work you do every day.


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

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer