The Electrical Worker online
January 2015

From the Officers
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2014: The Highs and Lows

We begin 2015, like every year, with a mix of optimism and concern. The past year gave us plenty of evidence that our optimism is justified but there was difficult news as well.

The best news is that we are growing. By the end of the year (numbers are still coming in as I write this) we will likely have added about 5,000 new brothers and sisters to our rolls spread over nearly every branch of the union. We also welcomed nearly 400 new signatory contractors and, in the final months of the year, reversed a year's long decline in our professional and industrial membership.

Nearly 500 new members come from one of the most successful organizing campaigns we've had in some time. Last year, Asplundh tree trimmers participated in 12 organizing elections and 12 times they voted yes, some by as much as 90 percent or better. I am talking with company management about the status of the 25,000 Asplundh employees who are not yet members of the IBEW.

On the bargaining front, workers at the Long Island Railroad ratified a contract after four long years and only hours before a strike deadline. In contrast, nearly 2,500 IBEW members at CBS approved a new contract a year early.

A final high point was the election of one of our own to Congress. Donald Norcross from Folsom, N.J., Local 351 is now Rep. Norcross from New Jersey's First District.

We can't celebrate the good news without acknowledging the hits we took. The midterm elections put too many regressive politicians into positions of power. It is hard to see implacable right-wingers in Senate seats formerly held by stalwart friends like Tom Harkin and Mary Landrieu.

We are proud of our role in the growth of renewable energy but remain greatly concerned about the potential impact of the EPA's proposed rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions. As written, they would shutter dozens of power plants with no contingency to replace lost capacity or soften the blow for the thousands of workers who would lose their jobs.

Harder still has been watching our brothers and sisters in New England walking gray, winter picket lines against FairPoint. It's a mess that never would have happened if regulators had listened to our warnings about the company.

As always, we take the bad with the good. There are great opportunities ahead for us this year as long as we remain committed to our principles and to one another.


Also: Chilia: Beating Back Right-to-Work Read Chilia's Column

Edwin D. Hill

Edwin D. Hill
International President