August 2019
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Also In This Issue Building the Gas Boom
Mammoth Construction Project in Western Pa. to Peak at 1,000‑Plus Electricians read_more

Welcome to the IBEW
Baltimore Gas and Electric Workers Ratify First Contract read_more

Triumph in the Desert
Nevada Election Wins
Pay Off for Workers read_more

North of 49°
With Election Approaching, New Contract Secures Gains for Federal Workers read_more

Au nord du 49° parallèle
À l'approche de l'élection,
le nouveau contrat assure des gains pour le personnel de compétence fédérale read_more






Change of Address



Cover Photo

Opioid deaths in the U.S. and Canada are at epidemic levels, ravaging communities across regional, ethnic and socioeconomic divides. But no industry suffers higher rates of addiction and death than one of our own: construction.

"This is something that has hit our industry especially hard," said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. "I want every one of our members to know that the IBEW is committed to doing everything we can to help any of our brothers and sisters who are suffering. No one is alone in this fight."

Every day across the U.S. more than 130 people die from opioid overdoses, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The numbers are proportionally similar in Canada, where, like the U.S., the crisis is fueled by a combination of factors, including reckless doctors, profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies and more.

"There's an individualistic culture in Canada and the U.S. that says, 'I'll do my thing and you do yours.' We deal with things in private," said Jim Watson, an international representative in the Education Department who runs trainings on mental health and addiction. "For something like this, though, we need to start talking."

Since 1999, sales of prescription painkillers have skyrocketed 300%, according to the Midwest Economic Policy Institute. And since 2012, more than 259 million opioid prescriptions have been written — enough for every American adult to have their own bottle.

Of course, opioids can be safely taken and help a lot of people in pain. But too often, they're misused. And for anyone in construction, it's a near perfect recipe for addiction.

Few occupations are more physically demanding. The injury rate is 77% higher than the national average, according to MEPI, so it should come as no surprise that substance abuse is nearly twice as high as the national average.

On top of that, construction workers only get paid if they show up, so pain medication is as common on the job as hard hats and tape measures. Home rest or physical therapy doesn't pay the bills.

In Ohio, construction workers were seven times more likely to die of an overdose than other working people, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer analysis. In British Columbia, 55% of the province's overdose deaths were construction and transportation workers, reported the Ottawa Citizen. read_more

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Officers Column Stephenson:
Replacing Stigma
with Solidarity read_more
Persistence Pays read_more

TransitionsKirk Groenendaal;
Robert B. Wood;
Herman Ray Hill read_more

PoliticsFlorida Activists Fight to
Fend Off Deregulation Threat;
Clock Ticking on Bill to Preserve Nuclear Jobs
in Ohio;
IBEW Urges Congress to
Get Moving on Nuclear Waste Storage read_more

Organizing WireIn Boise, New Telecom Unit Boosts Membership in
Right-to-Work's Shadow read_more

CircuitsWyoming Organizer
Honored for Leading
Local 322 Volunteers in Conservation Projects;
Free College, No Catch: IBEW Members Say
Degree Program
Hasn't Cost Them a Nickel;
N.J. Local's 'Good of the Union' Commitment
Bolsters Community;
How This Shipyard Created
a Values-Based Commitment to Excellence —
and Success read_more

LettersA Plea for Safety;
More Than a Job;
A Sense of Belonging;
Union Strong;
Welcome to the IBEW read_more

In MemoriamJune 2019 read_more

Who We AreOntario Volunteers Make
Life-Changing Journey
to Guatemala read_more