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November 2020

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United For Working People

Sisters and brothers, by the time you read this, more than 100 million votes will have been cast across the United States in one of the most polarizing elections of my lifetime.

Because of this terrible virus and the surge in Americans who are choosing to vote by mail to avoid long lines and potential exposure, it's possible we won't know the results until later this month.

But while the dust settles, I hope you'll all remember why you belong to the IBEW. It's easy to divide people into red and blue, black and white, liberal and conservative, but we're proud to be a part of a union that includes a broad cross-section of people with a wide variety of values and beliefs.

As International President of the IBEW, there is no more important value to me than the right of every person to join together in union to fight for a better life for themselves and for their families. Because, at the end of the day, that's why this brotherhood exists.

Back in 1891 when my predecessor Henry Miller and nine other delegates came together in St. Louis to organize for safer working conditions and better pay in the electrical industry, those things were at the front of their minds. They didn't let politicians divide them over who believed what and who didn't. They were there with a common purpose, and they changed the world.

Today, things are complicated, for sure. But whoever the next president of the United States is, the IBEW will continue to demand a few fundamental things.

First, no president who doesn't respect the rights of working people to organize for safety on the job, better wages and a secure retirement will ever have our backing. Not ever. A president who cozies up to union-busters and CEOs who line their pockets by exploiting their workers can always count on the IBEW to fight against them every step of the way.

Second, we expect whoever takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2021, to present a real vision for the future, and that includes a plan for a 21st-century electrical grid and for a massive investment in America's infrastructure.

Third, America's pension system is in serious trouble. Without a fix, a few troubled plans could bring the whole thing tumbling down, endangering the retirement security of millions of Americans. The same goes for Social Security and Medicare, which need serious intervention if we want them to be healthy programs when folks working today are able to retire. The next president will have to make the security of America's retirees a priority on Day 1.

I could go on, but these are agenda items every IBEW member can get behind, and over the next four years, we need you to stand with us, united in the belief that working people can make a difference when we stand together and cast aside those who seek to divide us.

That's what this union — and the entire labor movement — is all about, and I look forward to standing beside you for this fight.


Also: Cooper: Time to Get Outdoors Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President