The Electrical Worker online
May 2021

From the Officers
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A Lifetime of Work

By now you've heard about President Biden's American Jobs Plan, and you'll hear a lot more about the details from us over the upcoming weeks and months.

It's hard to pick out the highlights from a $2 trillion proposal that will transform the country and touch every branch of this union for the rest of our work lives, but it is worth taking a little time to understand the truth.

Included in the proposal is $600 billion for improvements to our roads, bridges, ports and highways, including $174 billion to accelerate the electrification of the transportation sector and $80 billion for our neglected rail sector.

There's at least $300 billion for grid modernization, including thousands of miles of new transmission lines, and $100 billion for broadband expansion specifically targeting underserved rural communities.

Another $300 billion is planned to modernize our manufacturing sector and to provide the parts and equipment needed for all the other infrastructure spending because of President Biden's "Buy American" requirements.

Every dollar in this plan is backed with the strongest labor protections of any federal legislation yet written. Not only is prevailing wage built into every line item, but the right to form a union on any federally funded project is central to the proposal.

Not only are we going to get it done, it's going to get done union.

It doesn't matter how you voted. This is the investment in the United States that has been put off since most of us were kids.

You will be asked to call your senators and representatives in the days ahead.

Please do it. If you have ever taken your kids to the doctor on a union medical plan in a vehicle bought with a union salary or looked forward to a union retirement, then you owe it to future working men and women to pick up the phone and fight for this plan like you'd fight for your own family.

This is enough work to last from apprenticeship to retirement not just for you, but for tens of thousands of new union members in our brotherhood alone.

This bill means hundreds of thousands of jobs for construction members, but also for our members in utility, telecom, railroad and broadcasting.

Maybe the biggest impact will be felt by our manufacturing members who have watched for decades as we stopped making things in North America.

This bill should have the support of every single member of Congress, regardless of party. It won't, of course, because the "game" of politics means too much to some of our elected leaders.

But failing to support an investment in America — in American workers — is not an option.

The president has put forward a bold plan to create good union jobs and to return the U.S. to global leadership, and the IBEW will be at the front of the crowd demanding Congress make it law.


Also: Cooper: On Brotherhood Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President