The Electrical Worker online
March 2019

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
We Stood Up

This year started in the worst possible way for many of our brothers and sisters who work for the federal government.

Faced with no paycheck and no idea how long it would be until the next one, these women and men could have stayed quiet and waited for the very politicians who caused the mess to fix it.

But I'm proud to say they did no such thing.

Over the course of the record 35 days the federal government was partially shut down, members of this union and others stood up and demanded an end to the impasse. I was proud to join them marching outside the White House, but that wasn't the end of their activism.

Members of this Brotherhood called members of Congress, wrote letters to the editor, told their own stories of hardship and demanded an end to the practice of using government workers as pawns in political squabbles.

And most importantly, they reached out and helped one another. All across the U.S., from California to Texas to Pennsylvania, we heard stories of IBEW members and locals — even those with no federal workers — reaching out to their communities. Whether it was feeding workers and families impacted by the shutdown, opening their halls and wallets to donate food and supplies, or simply offering a supportive word to those being forced to work without pay, our members stepped up.

When the politicians wouldn't act, we did.

As I look back on those ridiculous 35 days, I'm filled with hope for the future of workers in America, because workers — not politicians — ended the shutdown.

That fact was pointed out by columnists in prominent newspapers and pundits on cable news, but those of us in the labor movement knew it was always going to be that way. We know firsthand that real change — whether it's inside a company or in the halls of Congress — comes when working people stand together and demand action.

By the time you read this column, the Feb. 15 deadline for another extension of government funding will have come and gone. I can't predict whether there will be another shutdown. But I can tell you that I have faith in the working men and women of the IBEW and that they will again stand up and be heard if the need arises.

I can also promise you that we'll work with other unions that represent federal employees to end the practice of holding working families hostage over petty political disputes. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work is a bedrock principle of our society and this union, and we'll never stand quietly by and watch our sisters and brothers be forced to work without paychecks again.

Thank you for all each of you did to stand up and send that message to Washington.


Also: Cooper: Better Benefits, Lower Costs Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President