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December 2022

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Standing Up for Democracy

Last month, millions of Americans exercised their sacred right to choose their representatives in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

As of this writing, I don't know all of the final results, but regardless of who won and lost, it is so very important that we hold tight the freedoms that so many Americans have fought and died for.

It's easy to take those freedoms for granted. But the sad reality is that democracy and freedom are under strain these days.

Authoritarian movements and politicians are slowly chipping away at the fundamental rights we've taken for granted, centralizing power in the hands of a few and cutting citizens out of the electoral process.

Sadly, the U.S. — long a beacon for democracy in the world — is not immune to this trend.

There are lawmakers here who want to make voting harder, not easier, for American citizens.

Some have heavily gerrymandered electoral districts, giving their allies an unfair advantage.

And some politicians openly say that the only legitimate elections are the ones they win.

Defending democracy is not about partisanship.

It's about protecting the values we share, and the labor movement has a lot of skin in the game.

Too often, when people think of unions, they just think of wages and benefits.

But the truth is, throughout history organized labor has been one of the greatest forces for democracy and freedom in the world.

From Poland to Brazil, union members have helped topple dictatorships. Trade unions have fought to expand voting rights and demanded reforms to ensure every person has a voice in their government.

But labor has also helped expand the definition of freedom.

History teaches us that a free society will not survive if workers do not enjoy their fair share of the economic pie.

Unemployment and growing income inequality have been the death of democratic governments in the past, so our role in promoting good jobs and economic security remains essential to democracy's growth.

Protecting our freedoms is an IBEW issue because trade unions can only prosper in a climate where freedom of expression and the right to vote are honored and respected.

Conversely, a strong labor movement is key to a thriving democracy, and the IBEW is committed to doing its part in ensuring the survival of democracy and freedom both here and abroad. That starts with holding accountable those politicians who try turning back the clock on our rights.

If we stand together, not just on the job, but in defense of liberty and democracy everywhere, no one can tear us apart.


Also: Cooper: The Future Is Ours Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President