The Electrical Worker online
January 2016

From the Officers
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Giving It All We've Got

Some jobs come easily. An owner has a project, a signatory contractor bids it when it comes around and calls the local hall for workers when they win.

Our jobs at the International Office, as business managers and even as construction electricians would be a lot easier if every job came through the door on a silver platter, but that isn't how it works.

For nearly 125 years, we have been organizing workers. Nearly three years ago, we launched the Business Development Program, now the Business Development Department, to organize the work systematically — targeting the early stages of projects long before requests for bids are put out.

It was a new idea for us and for organized labor and, when we launched it, we weren't perfectly sure what it would look like or how it would work best.

I think we are getting an idea.

Last November, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved the Grain Belt Express, a 750-mile, high voltage transmission line that will carry 4,000 megawatts of wind-generated power to major load centers in the Midwest and the East Coast, enough to power 720,000 homes.

I believe the IBEW was crucial to the approval of the project. IBEW members and retirees were at every meeting in every community along the line's route arguing for approval. Our Business Development international representatives communicated with local politicians and the line's owner, Clean Lines Energy. The IBEW's Media Department even shot, produced and ran an ad in Missouri and Illinois in the weeks before the vote.

There is still a ways to go before poles start going up, most importantly overturning Missouri's rejection of the plan, but the approval in Illinois is good news for two reasons. First, we are a step closer to a job that will put our members to work. And second, we are beginning to exercise our full power as a brotherhood, using every tool we have to win the work that isn't waltzing in our door.


Also: Stephenson: Making History in 2016 Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer