The Electrical Worker online
February 2021

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
The Power of Union

Next month will mark a full year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic for most of us here in the U.S. and Canada. I don't need to tell you what a struggle it's been.

From lost jobs to lost lives and everything in between, working people — and especially the essential workers who are our sisters and brothers here at the IBEW — have borne the brunt of this health crisis.

Working people have also been the bright lights in this dark year, taking care of the sick, building and maintaining critical buildings and infrastructure, manufacturing and moving the materials we need to keep things running, keeping our power and communications flowing and performing so many other critical jobs.

But too many of those workers have gotten words of praise and little to back it up. How many of their valuable contributions from the past year will be forgotten once things get back to normal? How many will face layoffs or cutbacks? How many won't reap any of the rewards of record profits and a soaring stock market?

One of the many things we've learned from this pandemic is the power and importance of unions in making sure the backbone of our two countries, working families, are rewarded and protected for their valuable contributions.

From emergency agreements allowing workers to choose to stay home and protect themselves and their families to expanded COVID-19 health benefits to coordination with employers to implement critical new safety standards, unions have been a powerful voice for working people throughout this pandemic.

But it's not just what unions have been able to negotiate during the pandemic. In many cases, the contracts agreed to long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19 have been the most important protections workers had at their side. Good health care, secure retirements, on-the-job safety and job security have been critical forever, but especially so over the last year.

It's no wonder unions are at near record levels of approval for recent decades. Millions of North American workers report they'd join a union if they were able, and what's stopping them?

Union busters, bad labor policies, a hostile National Labor Relations Board in the U.S. These are things we're working hard to change.

But in the months ahead, I hope you'll give thanks for the union contract that you work under and work hard to organize and extend those protections to even more workers in your communities. Most importantly, please continue to follow health precautions until everyone can get vaccinated and this terrible virus is fully behind us.

Thank you for all that each and every one of you are doing during these trying times.


Also: Stephenson: A Commitment to Excellence Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer