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February 2022

From the Officers
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Living Our Values

Last month, I wrote to you about the incredible wave of worker action over the past year, when workers from companies like John Deere, Nabisco, Kellogg's and many more stood up and demanded to stop being treated as replaceable parts in an endless profit machine.

From meatpacking plants to powerhouses, construction sites, manufacturing lines and delivery trucks, working men and women have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic these last two years, and it's no shock that they're tired of being rewarded with the faint praise of an "essential worker" label while not seeing a lot of the respect and gratitude that ought to come with that.

This massive undervaluation of labor coincides — not uncoincidentally, I think — with some of the highest approval numbers for unions and the labor movement in decades. And that presents us with an amazing opportunity to welcome more working people to the security of a collective bargaining agreement.

So, this month I want to talk about how we support this movement not just with our voices, but with our actions, with our wallets and in our daily lives.

One of the easiest ways to support workers is to buy union-made products produced in the U.S. and Canada. The AFL-CIO maintains a helpful list at and publishes regular updates especially around holidays. Whether it's food, drinks, vehicles or other products, buying from companies that bargain with their workers instead of fighting them is a major way we flex labor's financial muscle.

The second, and probably the most obvious, is to honor strikes and resist buying products from companies where the workers are on strike. This can be tough, I know. Companies like Kellogg's and Nabisco make a lot of our favorite cereals and snacks, but when their workers were fighting for fair treatment, avoiding those products was the least we could do as union sisters and brothers. There's a comprehensive list of properties and products to avoid on as well.

We can also show up on picket lines or donate to strike funds to show our support. When IBEW workers are out, it's not just IBEW members who support our Unity Fund. Donations come in from across labor, and we can do the same.

And finally, we can use our voices, whether in person or on social media platforms, to lift workers struggling against their employers and to call out companies that are acting in bad faith. We're labor allies, but we're also customers, and companies pay attention when customers aren't happy.

If we live our values as members of the labor movement, then others will want to join us and we'll be stronger for it. Thanks for doing your part to show solidarity with all working people during these unprecedented times.


Also: Stephenson: A Rich History Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer