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December 2016

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Our Future is Still in Our Hands

There are still a lot of questions about Trump's agenda and nobody knows exactly what the next four years will mean for organized labor. It will likely be hard.

But regardless of how strong the headwinds are from Washington, our future is still in our hands. Looking to someone else to ensure the IBEW's success has never been our way.

We don't wait for someone to save us. We organize and build our own future.

For now, let us celebrate — and learn — from the victory at the Memphis, Tenn., Electrolux plant. It is a model for how we can build a strong future no matter who sits in the Oval Office.

Lesson 1: Don't Give Up, Smarten Up Our organizing campaign — which won by more than 2 to 1 — came just over a year after a disappointing lost election riddled with unfair labor practices. We did an immediate postmortem and before the momentum died we got right back to work.

Lesson 2: We Organize Anywhere This victory came in the heart of the right-to-work South, in the same state where the United Auto Workers lost a major election at Volkswagen. When we get our message out, nowhere is off limits.

Lesson 3: Organizing is Personal Organizers made more than 400 home visits during the campaign, and members of the volunteer organizing committee were vocal and visible advocates for the IBEW. It made a difference for the Electrolux workers to see organizers from across the country and from their own community. More importantly, through social media, every IBEW member can now connect to organizing drives or reach out to nonunion members in their own bargaining unit.

So speak up. Any member of the IBEW is doing something every nonunion worker isn't: working under a collective bargaining agreement. It is up to all of us to speak up and speak out about the benefits we get by coming together in a union.

This is a victory every member of the IBEW can be proud of, most importantly the 700 new members who will be joining us.

More than just pride, it should fill every member with some optimism. No matter what happens, the power of working families to make their lives better is now, as it always has been, in our own hands.


Also: Stephenson: An America That Works for Everyone Read Stephenson's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer