Business Manager’s Message — April 2022

The Importance of the Ballot 

Greetings, Brothers and Sisters,

Over the course of the next few weeks and months, you’re going to be hearing from a lot of people who will be encouraging you to become politically active or to ramp up what you have already been doing. People will ask you to donate your time and money to candidate X or Y. Above all else, you will be encouraged to take part in our nation’s political process in the most fundamental way: by voting.

This last part is so basic and so important. Brothers and sisters, if you do nothing else, get to the ballot box or send in your ballot by the deadline. Vote and tell everyone you know to vote as well.

My voting started the first time I could in 1977. I was able to vote on my 18th birthday, but that was 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned and was replaced with Gerald Ford so there was no election. When Jimmy Carter ran against the incumbent Republican, I voted Democrat due to living through the Nixon years. In 1979 I was accepted into the apprenticeship and learned the value of voting for union-friendly candidates. I didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan, although some “Reagan Democrats” did, and we saw how anti-union he was. When I entered the apprenticeship, there were one million IBEW members. By the time I turned out in 1983, it had dwindled down to 750,000. We all remember Reagan busting the Air Traffic Controllers for practicing their right to strike. So, when Walter Mondale ran against Reagan, I voted for Mondale and we all know how that turned out. I have voted Democrat in every election as my union has instilled in me the value of electing union-friendly candidates to preserve my way of life. 

For the 2022 election, your union has tried to make this process easier for you. This special edition of News@11, the theme of which is the importance politics, includes a four-page voter guide with Local 11’s endorsements of candidates in all of the races – city, state and federal. We have QR codes which you can use to determine your representative based on where you live. Our Getting to Know your Union campaign features an interview with Local 11’s very busy Political Director Antonio Sanchez who shines further light on some of the races and why – even in a non-presidential election year – the stakes could not be higher.

And if you’re asking yourself, “What does any of this have to do with me living my life as a union electrician?” The answer is: plenty. Pro-union candidates help install policies that will give our members work. Labor is constantly under attack by individuals who would make things difficult for unions or, in some cases, abolish unions altogether. The people that IBEW helps put in office remember our help, and they will do us a solid when the time comes.

As most of you already know, President Joe Biden is a staunch union supporter and always has been. From the campaign trail to his early days in office and now, he has acknowledged the importance of organized labor and the work of IBEW specifically. At the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) Legislative Conference in April, President Biden was a featured speaker. He thanked working people for getting him elected and mentioned IBEW several times. Having a pro-union president in the White House is outstanding, but it doesn’t mean our work is done. During that legislative conference, I was part of a delegation from the California Building Trades that met with several other high-powered political officers. Getting in the room with people like Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Alex Padilla, and John Garamendi means getting attention for things that matter to us.

That work continues. It will never end. Thanks to people like Antonio and all the dedicated members who mobilize during political season when action is needed, we get things done.

Please do your part to help IBEW Local 11 continue to be the force that we have become. Educate yourself and vote.

In unity,

Joël Barton
IBEW 11 Business Manager

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