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September 2022

From the Officers
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Workers Have the Power

Rising costs have dominated the news over the last few months, driven largely by high gas prices. But not many of those news reports have talked about the massive increase in workers' power that's happened during the same time.

In August, workers' wages were reported up a remarkable 5.2% over this time last year. That's an incredible number, and it's a result of high demand for people to fill open jobs.

Just last month, we learned that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 3.5%, the lowest it's been in half a century.

Coming off two years of pandemic-related slowdowns, our economy is on the move despite the pressures of price increases and fears stoked by politicians who are eager to see us fail to improve their political prospects.

As I write this, the Senate just passed one of the most important pieces of worker-friendly legislation of my lifetime, the Inflation Reduction Act, and I look forward to having good news to report when I write to you next month.

When passed by the House, it will affect so many people in this great union, putting our members at the tip of the spear in building America's energy future, revitalizing American manufacturing, lowering prescription drug costs and more.

Just last week, Congress passed the CHIPS Act, which will invest heavily in bringing microchip manufacturing back to America, protecting our national security and creating thousands of jobs for IBEW members in the process. Already, our members are preparing for construction of massive new chip plants in Ohio and Texas.

Even as I write, gas prices have declined for seven straight weeks, easing some of the pressure we've all felt at the pump and in our day-to-day shopping.

These massive improvements could be overshadowed by grocery bills that are slow to come down or panic among the talking heads on television news, but make no mistake, rising wages and demand for labor puts working people in the driver's seat.

It's even more critical in our core industries, where demand for skilled electricians, lineworkers and more is through the roof. It's why we recommitted to making organizing our top priority at our convention in May. Even if some sectors of the economy cool, President Biden's infrastructure bill and these new pieces of legislation will ensure decades of work for just about every branch in the IBEW.

The future is in our hands, and the labor movement and collective bargaining give us the power to demand our fair share. It's up to us to seize this opportunity to grow and to gain even more strength while our labor is at a premium.

I'm as confident as I've ever been about the prospects for IBEW members and their families, and I think you should be too.


Also: Cooper: Be an Everyday Organizer Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President