The Electrical Worker online
June 2017

From the Officers
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A Better Way to Work

A union's job is to look out for its members. Sometimes — especially in the early days of organized labor — that meant speaking uncomfortable truths to employers. Sometimes it requires more than words. It can take actions all the way up to a strike to make sure those words are respected.

But while it might happen, conflict is never this union's goal.

Employers and union workers can look out for their own best interests and, at the same time, look out for one another. The position of the IBEW is that the best long-term strategy for companies and unions is partnership built on common interests.

This is how it should work. And it isn't a dream.

For hundreds of thousands of our members, this is their reality. We have many hundreds of partnerships with employers in all of our branches.

Some examples are highlighted in this issue.

A solar contractor in Massachusetts that went from an open shop to an IBEW signatory has watched its profits grow, customer satisfaction improve and market share with it.

AT&T and the IBEW signed a nationwide five-year contract that positions the company to succeed in a rapidly changing and highly competitive industry while giving workers the pay and security they need to help.

There are many, many more examples. A Chinese company partnered with the IBEW to bring railcar manufacturing back to Chicago for the first time in decades. And the IBEW/NECA Family Medical Care Plan is bringing better and less expensive health insurance to companies in Texas and around the U.S.

In December, a bipartisan coalition, including the IBEW and Exelon, successfully lobbied for a law that saves Illinois' two nuclear power plants, and creates hundreds of new jobs. The close relationship we've built with Exelon was crucial to the success of that bill.

None of this is new of course. It has been the heart of the Code of Excellence program we founded nearly a decade ago. We say our members are the best trained, most productive in the world and we prove it every day. Employers should want to work with us.

I am proud when I see an employer lauding the benefits of signing up with the IBEW, but I'm not surprised. Union means many things: brotherhood, security and pride as well as professionalism, quality workmanship, training, and — for companies wise enough to reach for it — partnership.


Also: Cooper: My Commitment to You Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President