The Electrical Worker online
March 2021

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One of Our Own

Sisters and brothers, as I write this column on Feb. 4, I'm watching Brother Marty Walsh sit for his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing to become United States Secretary of Labor. I'll tell you, this is a banner day for the labor movement, and one that so many of you worked hard to make happen.

You see, Marty is from labor. He's a member and former officer of the Laborers Local 223 in Boston and former head of the Boston Building Trades. When he's confirmed, he'll be the first labor secretary who is a union member in nearly 45 years.

I don't need to tell you what that means. Now, we've had some friends in the secretary's office in that time; some of them were very good to union members and working people. But they weren't one of us. Marty is, and he'll never forget what it means to be a part of a union or what that collective bargaining agreement can mean in the lives of working families.

Appointing a union member as labor secretary is a significant first step in Joe Biden's promise to be the most union-friendly president in history.

On day one of his administration — before he even left the inauguration platform — Biden took another giant leap toward fulfilling that promise, firing the union-busting general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.

Peter Robb was a thorn in our side from the day Trump appointed him in 2017. During his tenure at the NLRB, he presided over a targeted campaign to eliminate workers' rights on the job, stifle union organizing and make it easier for companies to retaliate against working people seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

We knew it was coming when he got the job. Peter Robb made a career of sticking it to working families and their unions. He was instrumental in Ronald Reagan's destruction of the Air Traffic Controllers during their strike in 1981, and he made millions representing companies looking to do the same thing ever since.

In this issue, you'll read about a few more of President Biden's early appointees, including one of our own, Jennifer Kropke of Los Angeles Local 11, who will serve as Director of Energy Jobs at the Department of Energy, working to make sure that the transition to a clean energy future creates opportunities for working people and not just corporations.

As I've said many times before, Joe Biden's energy plan is a 21st century jobs plan, and we will hold him to that commitment. It won't always be an easy switch to make, but IBEW members will be the beneficiaries of a massive investment in energy infrastructure that will transform the way we generate, transmit and consume power.

Most importantly, we'll have a seat at the table as those important decisions are made. These first few weeks of the new administration have proven that.


Also: Cooper: A Year of Adversity Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President