Message from Business Manager Chris Erikson
I was thrilled to be with so many members of this great union from all across our country and Canada at the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) this past weekend to continue to make the progress necessary toward making the IBEW a more diverse and inclusive organization with shared equity, opportunity, and equality for all.
In our Local, we have sisters and brothers of color retiring with over 40 years in the IBEW, and change has come over the last 40 years. 40 years is a career, and this change brought progress — not soon enough for some, but for a few, unfortunately, it's come too soon. We know why they feel that way and we know who they are. Some have outed themselves publicly, on jobs, and in shanties. They've been less afraid, emboldened by Trump's rhetoric. You see, racists usually kept it on the down low, inside, showing subtle signs like writing on walls or acting openly only to others who they knew were just like them. It's like the example of the iceberg — you only see what's on top of the waterline, what people want you to see. But it's what is hidden under the waterline or deep inside a person that may be the real danger. Trump encouraged those people to bring it on, instilling fear in them that somehow they're losing their sense of power over other Americans and immigrants who don't look like them.
Sadly, some are not shy anymore, willing to talk trash out loud, emboldened by Trump and his racist crap. It weakens and divides us in our country and in our union. It is wrong and they need to be called out on it by people of good conscience, who may need to step out of their comfort zones as well. We should all emulate the teachings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There is a real sense of love in the EWMC and our union is stronger and better because of it.
Martin Luther King Day
Justice. Equality. Dignity. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified these values. His life and legacy continue to guide us in Local Union No. 3, the IBEW, and the labor movement as we carry on in the struggle for workers’ rights, civil rights, and voting rights for all Americans.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. As president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King became the most prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. He led the Montgomery bus boycott to victory, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the Selma march for voting rights.
Under the leadership of Harry Van Arsdale Jr., both Local 3 and the NYC Central Labor Council formed a deep connection with Martin Luther King Jr. and the righteous cause of desegregation.
When King and others were arrested for a sit-in at lunch counters in Atlanta, Georgia in October 1960, Van Arsdale wrote a letter in solidarity on behalf of the CLC and its 1 million affiliated members, who voted to send $1,000 in monetary support as well. A year later, King addressed the first meeting of the Brotherhood Party, organized by Van Arsdale, at the Hotel Commodore in Manhattan. For the historic March on Washington in August 1963, Local 3 Fixture Division member Leroy Tempro was the labor coordinator, bringing more than 400 members of Local 3 and 50,000 trade unionists to the nation's capital. In 1965, at the invitation of King himself, Van Arsdale and CLC Secretary Morris Iushewitz went to Selma, Alabama to support the drive for voting rights, which culminated in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
King’s life was tragically cut short on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, while in Memphis during a labor dispute to support African-American sanitation workers on strike.
Across our nation and within our union, we observe Martin Luther King Day every year on the third Monday of January.
Watch this video for a look at Local 3’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement through the years. This video was originally made for the NAACP New York branch’s 100th-anniversary ceremony held on June 3, 2011.