Living up to our Constitutional objects


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.

Tim Kaine or Mike Pence- which VP really stands with Union workers?


Republican VP nominee Mike Pence, Left, and Democratic VP nominee Tim Kaine, Right

In recent days, Democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton, has rolled out her pick for the Vice Presidential nominee, Tim Kaine. Kaine is a Democratic senator, former governor, and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from Virginia. As Hillary portrays herself as progressive, Kaine appeals to political moderates, independents, and more conservative members of the Democratic party.  Tim Kaine’s senate voting record was rated highly by the AFL-CIO. Kaine has endorsed many parts of Hillary’s platform, but also had some shaky points in his dealings with organized labor in the past. However, Kaine is markedly more friendly to labor than the Republican choice for VP, Mike Pence.

Kaine is well-regarded amongst fellow Democrats. He has worked with the American Civil Liberties Union, has advocated in favor of human rights across the globe, and been a reliable member of the Democratic caucus since his election in 2012.  However, In his dealings with labor, his outlook has not always been as positive. Kaine has argued  in favor of the TPP, a trade deal which could cost the US union workers thousands of jobs to other nations, a stance he has reversed. Kaine also defended Virginia’s right-to-work laws as governor, saying that the legislation was something “I strongly support”. However, his stance has softened on right-to-work laws since his tenure as Governor more than a decade ago. Five years ago, as chairman of the DNC, he met with union leaders in Wisconsin and has since shown more interest in working with labor unions. He has also endorsed his party’s platform for the 2016 election, indicating that his stance on some labor issues has shifted.

In contrast to Kaine, Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, governor of Indiana and former congressman, is notorious for his anti-labor politics. Interestingly enough, Trump has sought to court disgruntled union workers to his platform, but the addition of Pence complicates things for the billionaire businessman. For one, Pence, has expressed support for the TPP, and Pence has not changed his stance on the deal, unlike Kaine. (Interestingly enough, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have expressed a negative opinion of the TPP.) Pence also voted, while a member of Congress in 2007, for a bill that limited the minimum wage to 5.15 per hour, and resisted any increase during any of his terms in Congress. Pence has signed a bill as Governor of Indiana that limited his state to the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr, and limits Indiana towns and cities from setting the minimum wage any higher. Pence also voted against the Employee Free Choice act in 2009, which would have made it easier for unions to organize workers of non-union companies. Pence has also vigorously defended right-to-work laws.

Unlike his rival, who has opened his mind about unions and the working man, Pence remains unrepentant and continues to favor the politics of the 1% and not the American worker. While Tim Kaine is by no means perfect, Mike Pence is even worse for working families. We encourage all our union members to vote, and to make an informed and educated choice in who we elect to lead our nation this November.

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Trump Spends Half a Million to Stop Unionization Effort


Donald Trump styles himself as the candidate that will have more union members voting for him rather than Hillary Clinton, because of his appeal to working-class voters. He believed he was snubbed when the AFL-CIO endorsed his presumptive Presidential rival. He boasted, “I’ve done very well with unions.” However, the details of Trump’s private actions tell quite a different story of his opinion of unions. Before one steps in a voting booth in November, one should be aware of this.

The Culinary Workers’ union recently organized Trump’s Las Vegas hotel. But the hotel was not unionized without a fight. Trump and co-owner of the hotel, Phillip Ruffin, paid $560,631 between July and December last year to Cruz and Associates, a private consulting firm known for trying to put a stop to organizing efforts by unions. Their goal was to convince enough workers that the union did not have their best interests in mind so the union would lose the election and stop the workers from organizing.

Despite the large sum paid (for comparison, Trump has, as of June 2016, $1.3 million in the coffers for his presidential run) the union still won the right to organize and collectively bargain, voting 238 to 209. Trump contested the results of the election and filed with the NLRB, stating that the union had illegally swayed the election. His claim was dismissed. For such a large sum to be paid to stop a union organizing campaign – especially in comparison to campaign expenditures – is unprecedented, and shows where Trump’s true loyalties lie. In addition, the Culinary Workers’ Union maintains that Trump’s hotel violated labor laws by firing one pro-union employee and attempting to intimidate the remaining pro-union employees. The NLRB says those charges may have merit. The hotel management and union have yet to create a collective bargaining agreement.

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