The Electrical Worker online
August 2021

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Celebrating Our Freedom

Last month, we celebrated Independence Day here in the U.S. and our Canadian sisters and brothers celebrated Canada Day just a few days prior.

Both days mark the births of our two nations, different as they were. But they also celebrate something deeper: our freedom of self-governance, of making our own choices about our futures.

Our nations' constitutions later laid out the rules by which we'd govern ourselves, and both of our countries continue to set a standard for freedom and democracy that the world's oppressed look to for inspiration and guidance.

If you think about it, a constitution is similar to a union contract. It sets the rules of the road, protects both the employer and the employees – or government and citizens – and sets out processes for making new rules or changing old ones and for settling disputes. A union contract is also the envy of those who aren't fortunate enough to work under one.

Just as the U.S. and Canada serve as inspiration to people living under autocratic governments, our union contracts are inspiring workers and influencing not just union employers, but nonunion ones as well.

We all know that child labor laws, weekends, the 40-hour work week and more exist because unions were powerful enough to insist on them. Health and safety standards protect us at work because unions stood up and demanded an end to hazardous conditions and productivity-at-any-cost decision-making.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, unions insisted on amped-up protocols to keep workers safe, and – even though it took an administration change in Washington – we've been largely successful.

Protecting the sanctity of a union contract and workers' ability to join together and demand representation is at the heart of everything we do at the IBEW, especially our political views. We work with politicians committed to protecting working people and to working with us, not ones who kowtow to big businesses and billionaires who can write the biggest checks.

Protecting those contracts and our ability to negotiate for them is our version of freedom. A union contract is freedom from arbitrary decision-making by employers. It's freedom from wage theft and bait-and-switch policies; freedom from having your health care or retirement changed without notice. It's the freedom to speak up when you're asked to do something unsafe without worrying about getting fired.

So, let's celebrate our nations' freedom, but let's also remember the freedom the IBEW gives us and work to extend that to even more Americans and Canadians.

Thank you to our veterans for all they've done to preserve our nations' freedoms, including the right to stand up for ourselves on the job. God bless our two countries.


Also: Stephenson: A Stronger IBEW Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer