The Electrical Worker online
February 2016

From the Officers
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Your Paycheck, Docked

The future of organized labor is balanced on a knife's edge as we head into 2016. Half of the states protect the right of workers and employers to negotiate whatever contract they can reach, and half of the states intrude on those negotiations, putting their thumb on the scale for the employer.

They call it right-to-work, but in reality we know it is a misguided economic philosophy that somehow believes that America does better when working families do worse.

About the best argument that right-to-work supporters can muster is that job growth is slightly better in states that limit a worker's freedom to associate. Not decent jobs, not jobs with a salary you can live on, not jobs with benefits or a future, just more jobs.

Advocates for working Americans can claim some victories in the past few years in Missouri, West Virginia and New Mexico. But since Arkansas first imposed right-to-work laws in 1946 after a noxious campaign notable for its racist and anti-Semitic fear mongering, every year has been a battle. In 2016, six states are in the balance: Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, New Mexico and West Virginia.

Unlike years past however, it isn't just states that are in play. As outlined in this month's story, the effort to strip workers' rights in 2016 will happen at every level of government, from the Supreme Court down to counties, even cities.

It won't be enough to wait for Election Day to cast your ballot for a candidate who respects your right to organize. It isn't too late to protect your wallet from the ideologues who want to get in it.

We must make sure the men and women who represent us today know where we stand. And if you are not sure who that is, there is a simple way to find out. Go to, enter your address and then write a letter to every person on that list.

There are IBEW members in nearly every county in every state in the nation. If we all get active, get our families and friends involved as well, we can do more than stop the erosion of our rights. We can go on the offensive, and make 2016 the start of a new era for American workers.


Also: Chilia: Excellence in Broadcasting Read Chilia's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President