The Electrical Worker online

October 2022

From the Officers
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Promises Kept

In just over 12 months, four bills were signed into law by President Joe Biden that, taken individually, will mean tens of billions of dollars in income for IBEW members. These are not project values we're talking about, but tens of billions in wages and benefits.

That's tens of billions for you, members of the IBEW across nearly every branch.

Taken together, the Butch Lewis Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act and the CHIPs and Science Act will spread organized labor's promise of worker protections, good wages, decent benefits and a dignified retirement to tens of millions of people for decades to come.

In this issue, we go into more detail about what each of these new laws will mean for you and your family and for the IBEW's future.

But here's the short version: These four laws, taken as a whole, reject four decades of America's abandonment of the working family in favor of big business and the wealthy.

For 42 years, catastrophic economic policies hammered people like us. Call it what you will: trickle down. Free market. Neoliberal.

These were policies that destroyed lives, devastated communities and, for many, took away the American dream.

International President Charles Pillard said it in the 1980s and we've never stopped repeating it: "The country doesn't thrive when bankers and corporations are fat. America thrives when, and only when, jobs support families."

Thankfully, and with a lot of hard work, we are finally starting to turn our back on that time.

The insanity of paying companies to ship jobs to China is over.

We will no longer abandon communities that lost coal and oil powerhouses.

We will reward companies for building factories where people we know can go to work.

Corporations will no longer be able to pay nothing in taxes when they have billions in profits.

Multiemployer pensions will keep their promise to each of us.

And we will not reward contractors who rob their workers and endanger their lives with federal contracts paid for with our money.

A study by the RAND Corporation found that over the past 45 years, $50 trillion was taken from the bottom 90% of American earners and shoveled to the top 1%. And what did these people do? They watched the country's infrastructure rot.

No more. We will not watch roads crumble, bridges fall, towns die or factories rust.

In the near future, IBEW journeymen and apprentices will be building clean energy with panels, chips, batteries, inverters, racks, wires and transformers sourced and built in North America with steel made right here.

That's all because of these four bills, passed by this House and this Senate and signed by this president.

And now it's time to render our judgement at the ballot box.

Here's how we see it: Unless you were around during Franklin Roosevelt's administration, for the first time in our lives we have someone in the White House who delivers more than words for us, for our families and for our communities.

It is in your hands whether or not he keeps the tools for us to go farther; to break the back of right-to-work once and for all; to make organizing in union a reality for every American worker; to punish modern sweat shops that get fat while their workers wait in line at food banks.

The IBEW and its members don't have permanent allegiance to any political party. Our loyalty is reserved for our members and their families.

Politicians get our support when they stand with us, and, over our 131-year history, we have had friends and opponents in all parties, all based on what they did for working people.

Many of these bills have been kicking around Capitol Hill for years and parts of some of the bills have been on our priority list for decades. The truth is that they've been ignored by leaders, red and blue.

Presidents in both parties could have built labor standards into tax incentives for the green economy. They could have cemented prevailing wages into every federally connected infrastructure project.

Blue and red could have created tax incentives to help communities harmed by the transition away from carbon intensive energy generation.

But only one did: Joe Biden.

Every union member has seen politicians thanking the IBEW for delivering our votes when all they delivered was disappointment.

Joe Biden delivered.

And this, too, is a fact: in three of these four bills, not a single Republican in the House or the Senate voted for your future. Not one.

We won't get into what they say they want to do, because we know what they did when they had the House, Senate and White House: They passed a $2 trillion tax cut for billionaires and put union-busters in charge of the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor.

So, before you vote this November, look at who your political representatives really are. On these four bills they showed you.

Did they vote to change America back to a country that works for working people? When you needed them, did they do right by you and your family?

If the answer is yes, then they saved your pension, made prevailing wage the law of the new green economy, invested $1 trillion for streets, water, the grid, bridges, ports and airports and finally took steps to make America the manufacturing juggernaut it always should have been.

Not bad for a year's work.

Edwin D. Hill

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer