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March 2022

From the Officers
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Investing in Organizing

When everything shut down two years ago this month, we never anticipated COVID-19 would drag on as long as it has. And while the lost lives and livelihoods are by far the most important casualties of the last two years, many other parts of our lives and our union have also suffered.

One of those things we lost early on was the face-to-face contact that drives the labor movement forward. Brotherhood and sisterhood are the building blocks of everything we stand for, and the in-person elements of that have been sorely missed.

In recruiting new members, face-to-face interactions are an organizer's most effective tool. Trust can be built, assurances given, but it's never easy for a nonunion worker to take a risk, let alone with someone they've never met in person.

Still, our Membership Development team is making it work. 'A' membership is at its highest level ever and showing no sign of slowing down. And 'BA' membership is continuing to recover from the depths of the early pandemic.

A big part of our success has been the way our organizing strategy adjusted and evolved with the realities of a COVID-19 world. When we couldn't rely on the things we'd relied on before like jobsite visits, industry nights and house calls, our organizers changed tactics to keep themselves and potential new members safe and healthy.

That included an embrace of technology, and we've learned so much that we'll take forward into our post-pandemic strategies.

One thing I'm very excited about — and you can read more about it in this month's issue — is the Workforce Recruitment Task Force model that I and my counterpart at NECA authorized last year and recently expanded to 25 new markets.

With this new model, we're using technology to connect nonunion electricians to our NECA contractor partners and organizers in new ways, and we're seeing impressive results. Our local unions are filling calls at remarkable rates in high-demand markets, and our contractors are bidding even more work.

We've also evolved the way we organize on the Professional and Industrial side, rolling out the digital membership application, which has streamlined the process of signing authorization cards and taken so much opportunity for error out of the equation. When you use the DMA, your membership is recorded right then. It's worlds away from the old way.

COVID-19 forced us to think differently, and our organizers have risen to that challenge. I'm proud of what they're accomplishing with new tools at their disposal.

Now let's get out there and fulfill the IBEW's most important objective: to organize all workers in the entire electrical industry.


Also: Cooper: A Career for Everyone Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President