The Electrical Worker online
June 2021

From the Officers
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Investing in Us

It's not often that the IBEW gets mentioned by name from the floor of the United States House of Representatives.

It's even rarer that our name comes out of the mouth of the President of the United States during a joint address to Congress.

In fact, I'm not sure it's ever happened — until Joe Biden did it on April 28.

I have to tell you, it filled me with pride to hear our name on primetime television in front of an audience of tens of millions as the president laid out the most ambitious jobs plan in 80 years.

It's a plan that you've heard a lot about already, and you'll keep hearing more about it until it's made law. Because it has the power to revolutionize the economy, to put us on track to continue to lead in a 21st-century world, and to finally return to making things right here in America.

It also puts unions and union members at its very core. We're talking about enough investment and work in every one of our branches to keep today's members working for the rest of our careers. You can read more about the particulars in this issue, but I want to talk to you for a moment about the key elements.

IBEW members understand infrastructure. Whether it's roads and bridges, railways, ports, airports or the electric grid itself, these are the things we work on all the time. We've been waiting for years for a president to put forth a serious plan to bring America's infrastructure into the 21st century. Meanwhile, we've been watching ourselves fall further and further behind competitors like China when it comes to how we move people, things and electricity.

This plan invests more than a trillion dollars into those things. But let me tell you what it also does: It invests in Americans. Whether it's requiring the strictest "Buy American" provisions I've ever seen or investing in training, including union apprenticeships, working people are the backbone of this proposal.

When we repair that infrastructure, expand broadband and transmission and electrical vehicle charging networks, we're going to be doing it with American-made parts. If President Biden's plan passes Congress, we're going to see a resurgence of manufacturing in this country that we couldn't have imagined even a year ago.

That's good not just for manufacturing members, but for every one of us. New factories will need to be built and connected to the grid. Products will need to be moved. Communities will be revitalized, spurring growth in every IBEW branch. Every dollar in this $2.3 trillion proposal translates to jobs, and I couldn't be more excited.

Now we need your help. Call your representatives. Call your senators. Tell them the American Jobs Plan is the shot in the arm America needs. We're ready to get to work.


Also: Cooper: A Victory for Solidarity Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President