At the IBEW 39th International Convention, in Saint Louis, the IBEW celebrated its 125 year anniversary. The convention was upbeat with speeches extolling the virtues of Hillary Clinton for the 45th President of the United States. The IBEW’s future look so bright we thought we would need sunglasses. But, the American people had a different idea.
Donald J. Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States... the American people spoken and I have accepted the results. I offer President-Elect Trump congratulations and offers thanks to Secretary Hillary Clinton for her hard fought campaign.
Now comes the blame game… The results of the November elections have been dissected and analyzed to no end. I’m sure everyone, including myself, are sick and tired of hear all the talking head’s comments about the election. But, as the principal officer of our Local Union I’m obligated and bound to report to our membership the concerns and challenges will be facing going forward for the next four years.
International President Lonnie Stephenson stated that it was a long and at times a contentious election. Now we must focus on the fact that we are brothers and Sisters and we belong to this great IBEW. By its nature we share more common and collective interests than things that may divides us.
Many middle class working men and women felt that the federal government and the economy was not helping the American middle class. Declining or wage stagnation, lack of future job opportunities for the next generations, a rigged political system that favors the insiders and the elite class. If the election of Donald Trump represents that these issues can be changed, the IBEW can and will work with President-Elect Trump to improve the lot of American middle class working men and women.
But, let’s take a hard look at what Union’s got wrong. Union households voted 43% for President-Elect Trump and only 51% for Secretary Clinton according to exit polls. Union Leadership didn’t think things were not that bad, unemployment rate was dropped to 4.9%. The lowest since before the Great Recession. Median household income increased 5.2% last year… what could go wrong?
You can blame it on racism or immigration and not recognize that “Trump’s success is that he campaigned on his understanding that millions of working people are in pain” according to Bernie Sanders. Millions of union and non-union workers responded to Trump’s message regarding trade treaties, and that he would bring back high wage manufacturing jobs. Washington Politicians both Republican and Democrat weren’t talking about disappearing factories and good wage jobs, this just created anger and pain amongst many workers in the nation. Secretary Clinton was unable to convince those voter that she had a better plan.
One area of concern that would effect IBEW members is that President-Elect Trump has proposed $1 trillion of federal money to improved infrastructure, which would include the electrical grid. Many Republicans would be eager to repeal the 85 year old Prevailing Wage Act, which would disallow union scale wages be paid on federal public work projects.
Again, this could be a difficult period for us, but we’ve seen worst in our history. Remember we’ve been around for over 125 years, we started with the 10 Founders representing 286 members in 8 cities. We’re Still Here… Anytime the IBEW has been confronted with adversity and difficult challenges we have been engaged and have grown stronger and survived as a better organization. Our true success and strength is in our members and our values.
In closing, on behalf of the Staff and Officers of IBEW Local 77, we hope you, your family and our friends had a safe and wonderful Christmas and a joyous Holiday Season. This can be a stressful time for us. We must avoid seasonal distractions and stay focus on the job, remember our safe work practices are job one!