The Electrical Worker online
May 2021

From the Officers
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On Brotherhood

If the last year has taught us anything, it's that none of us can make it on our own. That's the entire point of the labor movement; that we're stronger when we work together, whether that's at the bargaining table, on the job or going about our daily lives.

It's why I've been so proud over the past year to see members and local unions pitching in to help your communities and fellow working families, many of whom have really struggled during this pandemic. From food drives to feed hungry families to putting our expertise to good use upgrading community buildings and so much more, so many of you have volunteered to help out those in need.

And even more of you have been doing it since long before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and made everything more difficult. Thank you to each and every one of you for all you have done and will continue to do in the name of the IBEW.

But I'm not just talking about the good work in our communities. So many of you do good work right at home in your local unions, volunteering your time for organizing campaigns, serving on committees, offering good ideas and constructive feedback and pitching in whenever asked.

You know, we talk a lot about the word "brotherhood" — it's right there in our name — but how many of us really know what it means? How many of us show up to work each day and live out everything that it implies?

When I call someone my brother or my sister, that carries weight. It means I've got your back and you've got mine. It means we can count on one another in times of need.

For most people, a job is a job. It's a paycheck, a way to put food on the table and pay the bills. And that's important, of course. But belonging to a union, to a brotherhood, a sisterhood, adds something else that's impossible to quantify in a paycheck or a retirement account.

We share a bond with one another that holds us to a higher standard. We swear an oath when we become members of the IBEW; you don't do that in just any job.

The point I'm making is that it's easy to show up and complain, and it's simple to focus on getting what's yours at the expense of those around you. But that's not what we signed up for when we became members of the greatest union in the world.

We're here because we know the power of brotherhood, of a collective fight for what we deserve as working people. I am my brother's and my sister's keeper.

We are so much stronger when we're all working together. Thank you for showing up and living out the meaning of "brotherhood" every day.


Also: Stephenson: A Lifetime of Work Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer