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July 2023

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Freedom in Union

July is a celebration of the birth of both of our nations here at the IBEW, so I'd like to start by wishing our Canadian members a happy Canada Day and a happy Independence Day to all our members in the United States.

For both of our countries, these holidays embrace the freedoms we hold dear as citizens of two of the world's leading democracies: things like religious freedom, free speech, freedom from tyranny and oppression — and, yes, the freedom for working people to stand together and fight for better wages and working conditions.

But that word "freedom" seems to mean different things to different people these days. Some folks seem to want to lay claim to the idea of freedom to promote all sorts of ideas that have little or nothing to do with being free.

They use freedom as a battle cry for culture wars and dividing people, implying that if they're for freedom the other side must be against it.

Well, let me tell you, nothing could be farther from the truth.

As someone who's dedicated my whole life to the labor movement and the fight for fair treatment and respect on the job, freedom means something different to me.

And it starts with the freedom to organize.

From the beginning of the labor movement, companies tried to restrict working people's freedom to come together in a union. And they're still doing it, with things like right-to-work laws, union-busting law firms and scare tactics.

The freedom to organize, which is codified in a piece of pending legislation here in the U.S. you've all heard me talk about before, the PRO Act, is essential to protecting workers and leveling the playing field between employers and employees.

So, if you're feeling patriotic this July 4, call up your representatives in the House and Senate and tell them to vote the PRO Act into law. President Biden is waiting and ready to sign it.

For our Canadian brothers and sisters, you can do the same by telling your Member of Parliament to finally get anti-scab legislation written into law.

The freedom to organize is the starting point for so many of the other liberties I hold dear: freedom from corporations limiting our ability to feed our families, freedom from the whims and grudges of supervisors, the freedom to speak up when you're asked to do something unsafe.

These are all freedoms brought to you by a collective bargaining agreement, and they're the reason the IBEW and unions like ours exist.

So, this July 1 and July 4, while you're celebrating the birth of our two nations, take a moment to celebrate the freedom you all enjoy not only because of where you live, but because of the choice you made to stand up for yourself and join a union.

Then, go out and spread the word to others ready to enjoy the freedom of a union contract. Every working person deserves to have what we do, and it's our responsibility to make sure they know it.

Happy Canada Day, and Happy July 4th to each of you, and thank you for all you do for the IBEW.


Also: Noble: Welcoming Our Vets Read Noble's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International President