The Electrical Worker online
December 2020

From the Officers
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Looking to 2021

Sisters and brothers, we're coming to the end of one of the most challenging years we can remember, and we're proud to say that IBEW members across North America stood strong and rose to meet the moment together.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant enormous sacrifices on both personal and professional levels. For some of us, that meant lengthy work stoppages, layoffs and furloughs. For others, it meant reporting to essential jobs under the threat of illness for us and our families.

For all of us, it has meant missing birthdays and weddings and time spent with family and friends.

Tragically, COVID-19 has cost the lives of friends and family members as well as a great many of our IBEW brothers and sisters. If you're among those who have experienced loss from this horrible disease, know that all of us across this brotherhood join you in your grief.

But this pandemic has also laid bare the differences between people who work for a living and those who get rich from our efforts. The stock market has soared, but wages have stayed flat and unemployment checks are running out. CEOs and Wall Street bankers report they're doing better than ever, while Main Street workers have resorted to food banks and been forced to make other tough financial sacrifices.

We know we're not out of the woods yet, but hopefully there's an end in sight. Your IBEW sisters and brothers are hard at work as we speak putting the finishing touches on production lines that will soon be creating hundreds of millions of vaccines to combat this disease.

And when things do return to normal, whatever that looks like, we want each of you to be ready. Because the opportunities for the IBEW and its members in both the U.S. and Canada are going to be enormous.

Over the last year, we've seen some of the highest approval numbers for unions among the public in decades. Men and women across every sector of the economy have seen the value of having a voice on the job. When your safety is at stake, everything else matters a little less, and millions of working people across North America have had to learn that the hard way this year.

So, we need to be ready to spread the gospel of collective bargaining and unions far and wide as our economies recover and people get back to work. And believe us, working people are ready to listen.

We're also coming off the conclusion of one of the most divisive elections of our lifetimes here in the U.S. Whether your side won or lost, there are going to be opportunities for IBEW members during the Biden administration.

First, the foot that's been on the neck of union organizers for the last four years is going away. We'll have allies on the National Labor Relations Board and in the Labor Department, and we'll finally see some decisions that put workers ahead of corporate special interests. We expect to see Congress move to fix our troubled multiemployer pension system as well.

We also have a commitment from the incoming administration that something is finally going to get done on infrastructure and energy.

A massive investment in our roads, bridges, ports and airports should have been the one thing Republicans and Democrats could have agreed on over the last four years, but nothing happened. Our energy infrastructure is equally as important, laying the groundwork for the enormous technological changes that will be ushered in over the coming decades.

On each of these things, President-elect Biden understands the challenges and will work with Congress to finally get the ball rolling. And you'd better believe he will work to make sure the job is done union.

A huge part of making sure we win this work is also up to us. Our Code of Excellence puts us at a huge advantage to our nonunion competition. Employers and customers see the standards we hold ourselves to and can't help but be impressed. But it's on each of us to live up to those commitments each day on the job and to hold one another accountable.

Another commitment to being our best is the pledge we've made to be IBEW Strong. Our union is at its best when it reflects the communities we serve, and we have made it a priority to recruit and train the next generation of electrical workers from as broad a pool of talent as possible. Our commitment to diversity is how we grow, how we man bigger jobs and increase market share. It's how we live up to our loftiest goals as a union — to represent every worker in the electrical industry.

The next few months will continue to be a struggle. This virus isn't going away for some time, and there are sacrifices yet to make. But in the not too distant future, 2021 will be a time for celebration, growth and, yes, a lot of hard work.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a joyful New Year to all of you and your families.

Edwin D. Hill

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer