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September 2022

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Be an Everyday Organizer

Every September we celebrate Labor Day, but most of us probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about how we are living out the ideals behind the holiday on a daily basis.

Labor Day's roots in the U.S. and Canada trace back nearly 150 years, but the importance of labor and of workers joining together in union has never been more relevant than it is today.

In July, the National Labor Relations Board reported that over the previous nine months in the U.S., workers had filed 56% more petitions for union elections than in the same period last year. That's amazing news!

That's 56% more workplaces where employees sought the power of unions to improve everything from wages and benefits to simply having more transparency in scheduling.

Many of these new workers seeking unions are young people in traditionally nonunionized industries who are just now recognizing the value of collective bargaining, but plenty of them are workers, buoyed by a strong job market, who are willing to stay and fight for better conditions in jobs they want to make a career in.

Maybe they're willing to stick their necks out for a union because they know people are hiring, but that's exactly what they should be doing when times are good.

And times are great for union organizing. Unions are popular, and workers' value to employers is at a premium — hiring is hard. So, now is the time for working people to lock in the protections of a union contract.

For those of us already lucky enough to be a part of the IBEW, this is our opportunity to go out and grow the movement.

I always say, I wear a lot of hats in the IBEW, but the most important one is that of organizer.

This union lifted me out of a childhood where we didn't have a lot of things we wanted or needed, and it placed me firmly in America's middle class. IBEW membership has made all the difference for my family and me.

I want that same thing for every worker looking for a fair shot at a better life, and this Labor Day I hope each of us will commit to being organizers every day.

Being an everyday organizer doesn't mean you need a walk list or jobsite leaflets, although if you're up for it, I'm sure your local union could use the help.

It might mean volunteering for community events with your local or just talking to someone in line at the grocery store looking for a better opportunity. Capitalize on the opportunities you've got, and look to create new ones.

Every working person deserves a voice on the job, and it's up to each of us to help them get it.

Happy Labor Day!


Also: Stephenson: Workers Have the Power Read Stephenson's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer