IBEW local 553 will be releasing a series of articles here on our website where we will discuss the objects of the IBEW constitution and how they relate to the values we hold as both a labor union and as individuals in our own lives. We must always and consistently ask ourselves, “Am I abiding by the IBEW constitution? Am I behaving and believing like a person with a union mind, heart, and soul?” These will also be posted on our website, for posterity, for all to see.
The first main object of the IBEW, according to our constitution is “To organize all workers in the entire electrical industry in the US and Canada, including all those in public utilities and electrical manufacturing, into local unions,” This means that we provide representation for ALL electricians, regardless of membership status.
Whenever an electrician or aspiring electrician enters the doors of our hall, whether he is union or nonunion, he will be heard, and he will be treated with respect. The entire goal of our Union, and the labor movement in general, is to ensure that all workers are given the wage they deserve, have a secure retirement and benefits in an age where benefits are decreasing or in some cases, non-existent, and rewarded for all of the hard work they do day in and day out. This is what the IBEW, and every other labor union, strives to turn into reality.
In our particular part of the country, Unions are not as powerful and do not always have an equal seat at the bargaining table due to right-to-work laws. North Carolina has one of the lowest percentages of unionized workers in the nation at 3.2 percent. Union membership, not just in our state, but around the country, has decreased at a time of stagnant wages, reduced benefits, and more people working part time just to pay their bills, let alone have a gateway to a solid middle-class lifestyle.
It was labor unions and their hard-fought tenacity, bravery, and strength that enabled the 20th century rise of the middle class, and the beginning of the American dream. Never before had upward class mobility been so possible. At the peak of union membership in the 1950s, wages were high, consumer spending was up, and the American economy was booming with plenty of profit left for the private sector. Thus, in an era where union power has been whittled away and workers are left to fend for themselves more than ever, we see it as a necessity that we need to make sure as many workers are represented as possible to bring our country back to prosperity, and that we live up to the objects of our constitution in the process.