IBEW Local Union #304
I’ve often looked back at the history of the labor movement, and have wondered if I would have the strength to stand as those before me did, to sacrifice for the rights and conditions that I enjoy today. People have lost everything to attain so many of the things we now take for granted. Would I be willing to fight? Would I stand against attacks on my union, my rights, my very way of life? It seems we will find out.
Legislation introduced by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker could strip state union workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. Other republican governors are also pushing anti-union legislation. Our own Gov. Sam Brownback is trying to weaken the union’s political power with the “paycheck deception” act. All eyes are on Wisconsin right now, if they manage to pass this legislation, dominoes will start to fall, and if you think Brownback won’t be one of the first on the bandwagon, you’re only kidding yourself. So what’s next? After state workers’ unions have been busted, police? Firefighters? How far behind do you think Utility workers will be? How long until the precedent is set and all forms of collective bargaining are outlawed? An attack on one is an attack on all, we cannot stand idly aside and let the greedy special interests divide and conquer our labor force. The time for action is now.
“Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.” – Molly Ivins
This is not only an attack on unions, this is an attack on workers altogether. Our interests are one and the same, when one worker is repressed, all are repressed. We stand together, our one strength is solidarity, and it is the most powerful weapon there is, for without labor, there is no capital. This is not about red states or blue states, pro-life or pro-choice, gay marriage, guns or any other hot button issue used to distract at election time. This is about our ability to earn a living, our ability to provide for our families, our ability to have our voices heard, our rights! Let’s not forget, collective bargaining is the sitting down of both sides to negotiate an agreement, the very people trying to deprive us our bargaining rights are the very people who agreed on the contracts they are now trying to void.
“If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
This is our opportunity, our chance to prove we are worthy of the great sacrifices those before us have made. This is our chance to prove to ourselves, our employers, our government that we will not be bullied, we will not let our rights be picked over by those that would see over 200 years of labor progress in this country undone. Maybe you didn’t like me yesterday, maybe you won’t like me tomorrow, but today we must stand together, we must stand for the workers of Wisconsin, and Ohio, and in doing so, we stand for ourselves.
“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright.” - Samuel Gompers
Submitted by Anthony Lira, Vice President IBEW LU 304
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 304 represents more than 2,000 Kansas members who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government. The IBEW family has members in both the United States and Canada and stands out among the American unions in the AFL-CIO because it is among the largest and has members in so many skilled occupations.