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October 2023

From the Officers
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Meeting the Moment

In late August, IBEW leaders from every part of the United States and Canada came to Chicago for the biggest Membership Development conference in our history. They were there to recommit themselves to this union's founding mission: "to organize every electrical worker in North America."

As I said at that conference, there is no better time to be an IBEW organizer than now, because the opportunities are endless.

The Biden administration's top legislative achievements — the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act — mean trillions of dollars for rebuilding our infrastructure; investing in advanced energy technologies like wind, solar, next-generation nuclear and electric vehicles; and bringing high-tech manufacturing jobs back to our shores.

We are talking about hundreds of thousands of new jobs across all IBEW branches.

And the IBEW not only fought to make those jobs possible, but we ensured that those federal dollars came with some of the strongest pro-worker and pro-union protections ever.

We now have rules in place that make it nearly impossible for companies to use non-IBEW labor for covered projects.

In Canada, the 2023 federal budget is doing similar work to the IRA, attaching pro-union standards to its tax credits for clean energy.

This is a truly historic moment for the IBEW. It has been generations since we have seen these kinds of opportunities to grow and build market share. And we are going on the offensive to make sure we grab on to them with both hands.

The law and public opinion are on our side, but if we do not refocus and recommit to organizing, we will miss the chance of a lifetime.

We cannot keep doing the same things we've always done and expect different results. The methods of the past simply won't capture the hundreds of thousands of jobs coming.

Which is why I am rolling out new organizing policies for every branch. You will be reading about them in the pages of this publication in the coming months.

It starts with Day 1 membership. By that, I mean anyone working in the electrical industry has a place in the IBEW. If they are doing the work, then we need to organize them.

There is nothing new or radical about it. It is how Henry Miller organized the IBEW in the 1890s, and we need to get back to those fundamentals if we want to ensure our future.

A bigger and stronger IBEW is good for everyone. But getting there and making sure this great union is here for our children and our children's children is going to require an openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

It won't be easy. But know that every change we make is to meet this moment, to build a bigger, stronger, more powerful IBEW.

A million-member IBEW would change the course of history and put workers at the centers of power — from the corporate boardroom to Congress.

But it cannot happen without every one of you. We all have a role to play in making a difference for working families by extending the benefits of IBEW membership to everyone in our industries.

Working together, we will meet this moment.


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Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International President