The Electrical Worker online
February 2023

From the Officers
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A Mission to Grow

It's the honor of my life to be international president of this great union that's done so much for me and my family over nearly 40 years as a member.

It's not a job I ever dreamed of having when I joined Local 688 in Mansfield, Ohio, back in 1986. I was a poor kid from a poor family looking to earn an honest living, and every opportunity I've had since I owe to the IBEW.

Over the last five years, I've had the great privilege to work alongside my friend and partner, Lonnie Stephenson, who taught me so much that I'll bring with me as I work to fill his big shoes.

But more importantly, Lonnie left this Brotherhood in the best possible position for success, and now it's up to every one of us to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead of us.

Those opportunities include a shot at trillions of dollars of work in the U.S. stemming from legislation that the IBEW helped write and get through Congress, bills President Joe Biden signed into law while recognizing the work the IBEW would do to bring projects in them to life.

Some of those jobs are in new industries and technologies that will require the expertise only IBEW tradesmen and tradeswomen can bring to a job.

There are also opportunities in manufacturing returning to our shores thanks to elected officials willing to do the hard work of getting those jobs back instead of just talking tough and doing nothing.

The truth is, every branch of the IBEW is poised to grow in every corner of North America. Thanks to years of work and relationship-building and holding government accountable to working families, we're at an inflection point, and IBEW members will lead us into the future.

This is the result of a lot of hard work by Lonnie and IBEW members at every level, but now we have to be ready to tackle a big new challenge.

And that challenge for the future of the IBEW is growth. Ever since I was a business manager, any problem I had got better with growth. It's as true in Mansfield as it is at the International Office.

Need better health care? Grow. Higher wages? Better pensions? Grow. Safer working conditions? More friends in government? Grow.

Growth equals power for working people.

For the IBEW in this moment, we must grow faster, and that means renewing our focus on organizing. Organizing new members is my No. 1 priority, and it's a job I need each and every one of you to take on with me.

There's a phrase that gets overused in the labor movement: "Every member is an organizer." But it wouldn't get used so much if it weren't so true.

On every job, in every community gathering place, soccer sideline or Little League bleacher, you represent the IBEW and what we stand for. You have the opportunity to bring more people into the IBEW family.

Set the best example on the job. Treat others with respect. Tell a young person about your career, and offer them your guidance if they show interest.

I'm proud to lead you in this effort, but we're going to do it together. Thanks for everything you do to make the IBEW bigger, stronger and more capable of delivering the promise of the middle class to the next generation of members.


Also: Noble: Proud to Serve Read Noble's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International President