The Electrical Worker online
November 2022

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Giving Thanks

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, and our Canadian siblings wrapped up their celebration just last month. But whatever day we celebrate, as union members we all have a lot to be thankful for.

Our union membership means a lot of things: better wages, superior benefits, more job security, and maybe most importantly, a voice at work.

You know too well that our nonunion counterparts work at the whims of their employers, where they're often pitted against one another, underpaid, overworked and either too afraid to speak up to address issues on the job or ignored or retaliated against if they do.

In the U.S., nonunion workers earn just 83 cents for every dollar union workers make, and the difference is even more stark for women and people of color.

When it comes to retirement security and health care, the difference couldn't be clearer. Sixty-four percent of U.S. private-sector union members have defined-benefit pension plans versus just 11% of nonunion workers. More than 90% of union members have access to employer-sponsored health care versus 68% of nonunion workers.

Not surprisingly, union households are able to hold more wealth than nonunion households, and the advantage is staggering among families of color. While white union members average 39% more household wealth than their nonunion counterparts, for nonwhite union members there's a 385% difference. And unions do more to close gender and racial wealth gaps than almost any other factor.

If those were the only advantages, we'd still have a lot to be thankful for as union members, but we all know there's more.

The intangible benefits of union membership — things we call "solidarity" and "brotherhood," among others — can't be valued with dollars and cents.

That feeling of knowing someone has your back and will stand with you in good times and bad, the value of that is immeasurable. We don't use the words "brother," "sister" and "sibling" because they sound nice; we use them because from the earliest days of the labor movement and still today, we consider our fellow union members family.

Families celebrate together and fight side-by-side. They share in one another's successes and lift one another up in times of failure.

In my 47 years in the IBEW, I can't begin to count the number of times I've seen members come together to support a member in need or lift up a union family dealing with tragedy.

This Thanksgiving, so many of you will volunteer in your communities and feed hungry families because that's what we do as union members. We help one another.

I'm proud to call each of you my union family, and this year I hope you're grateful as well for what being a part of the IBEW has meant in your life.

Then, when the holiday is over, I encourage you to go out and invite others into our IBEW family and extend the union advantage to even more people in your communities. This family has room to grow.


Also: Cooper: Honoring our Vets With Action Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President