The Electrical Worker online
October 2021

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Looking Out for One Another

One-hundred-thirty years ago, the IBEW was founded by 10 men trying to figure out how to keep themselves and one another safe on the job in the relatively new and exceedingly dangerous field of electrical work.

Electrical workers were getting severely injured and dying on the job constantly at the time. Our founding president, Henry Miller, would die just five years later when he was knocked off a pole in Washington, D.C.

Today, we enjoy a lot of other benefits as IBEW members — top salaries, excellent health care and benefits and secure retirements among them — but safety remains the most important thing we do. None of the rest of it matters if we don't come home at the end of each day.

That's why we're taking the important step this month of encouraging each of you to join myself and President Stephenson and do the right thing for yourselves, your families and your union sisters and brothers and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Over the last year and a half, more than 25,000 of our IBEW sisters and brothers have contracted COVID and at least 553 have lost their lives to this awful virus.

Here's what I know for sure: One death is too many to a virus that has a safe and effective vaccine available to every single one of us.

How a life-saving vaccine became a controversial and political issue is still a mystery to me. This vaccine is the product of decades of research, much of it done in IBEW-built labs. It's a manufacturing triumph, developed and mass-produced under a Republican president who was among the very first to take it, and distributed under a Democrat.

And so much of the work to build and retool the production lines that have gotten us to this point was done by members of this very union. President Stephenson and I couldn't be prouder of the role our members played in this process.

But here's the big problem. Too many of us — for whatever reason — have chosen not to get protected yet. And that decision doesn't just affect you. It puts your IBEW sisters and brothers on the job at risk as well, even if they've taken the responsible steps to protect themselves.

More than 5.5 billion doses of COVID vaccine have been administered worldwide, and it's proven to be one of the safest, most effective vaccines ever developed.

I said at the beginning of this article that this union was founded on the principle of collective action for collective safety, and there's no more clear-cut modern example of that than getting a COVID vaccine.

Nearly 700,000 Americans and Canadians have died from this horrific disease, and we can stop it today. We can get our lives, our jobs and our countries back to normal.

It's time to listen to the science and protect yourselves and everyone around you. Please get vaccinated.


Also: Stephenson: In Good Hands Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer