Writing the local’s next chapter will depend on our acceptance of those organized hands into the alternative classifications and how our membership is willing to view them. Remember the 1st object of our IBEW Constitution is …”to organize all workers in the entire electrical industry in the United States and Canada, including all those in public utilities and electrical manufacturing, into local unions”. It will depend on whether our membership will acknowledge the history of how the IBEW was built, “one member at a time” and they were all welcome.
The construction industry of the postwar period that some of us knew is all but gone. This is for many reasons, including technological and material changes, changes in the way electrical work is installed, more cable trays, less conduit, more open wiring and so on. Times are different and so are people, including the membership of this great union.
We must accept what the future will bring, and as we attempt to maneuver through the maze of it, will have to adapt to what we find along the way. If we don’t, then we must accept the fate of having fewer members and less market share and be relegated to the large industrial jobs until our presence there is gone as well. The recovery programs of CW/CE alternative classifications and the Code of Excellence are here to stay. Now we must move on to the next step: Embracing these new members, training and uplifting them. We must be active at work, making sure the right ratios and the right programs are in place to advance our industry for the greater good of the IBEW.
The IBEW is one of the best unions in the world. Our members are leaders in their communities, leaders in their places of worship and the entire labor movement.
Brothers and Sisters, we have had a good and constructive debate about this subject, even if it’s been heated at times. However the debate is over and we will move forward with the CW/CE classifications and the Code of Excellence message. We, the officers and I, realize that this means a drastic change in our culture, but not so much our history because many of our local unions have utilized alternative classifications in the past. Now I totally understand the resistance to change because I felt it myself. But the evidence is clear, and there is no turning back. We have had a long debate and good debate on this subject. Rather than keep on arguing, it’s time to move forward, close the debate and get down to the business of growing our Brotherhood so that we can count on a solid base for generations to come.