We have all heard the expression, "To the victor go the spoils." It usually pertained to wars; when you win you take all you can carry, or at least the soldiers took what they could carry. The rest belonged to the winner: the land and the people, the wealth, the ships and the weapons, and the treasures of the culture. Empires were lost, civilizations wiped out, the strong survived, and to the victor went the spoils. The American Revolution, the Civil War, and the World Wars were fought to protect our freedom, our principles, and our democracy. There was no choice as our survival was at stake. It wasn’t a question of whether it was worth it or not. It was a question of whether we had the resolve to take on the fight. Was everything we had worth protecting, and moreover, did we have the guts to stand up and actually defend it? The principle applies all throughout life - a dispute with a family member, a neighbor, the PTA, your Knights of Columbus or any organization, your union, or as we recently witnessed, our country.
Your personal perception of what’s at stake and how important it is to you is what determines whether you are all in or not. People have differences of opinion, and respecting the right of others to disagree is one of the principles of a democratic society. We vote and we then live with the decision of the majority until the next election. If your guy lost then you try harder next time. The attack on the capital rejected that principle. That attack sought to replace our system of democracy with something else and remove some of our elected leadership including the Vice-President by deadly force. It didn’t happen but nonetheless it was a bold attempt. What's worse is that it is not clear whether or when it will happen again. But for now America perseveres with a new President with a fragile civility restored. There continues to be real challenges, the pandemic first and foremost, plus an economy in shreds, and a country divided. Not easy fixes.
I want to share our President's gratitude to IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson and the Officers and members of the IBEW. President Biden addressed the IBEW's leadership at our annual Officers Meeting just last week.
Another example of "to the victor go the spoils." Our early support has put our interests at the front of the line. And while we may not get everything we got a great shot. A much better shot than we did with the last administration. Biden is committed to union jobs and a green energy policy, along with building infrastructure, protecting multi-employer pension plans, and growing union apprenticeship training. He fired the anti-union and anti-worker General Counsel of the NLRB hours after being sworn in. He has made it a priority that his administration, his cabinet and his appointments will acknowledge the value of collective bargaining and the right of workers to organize. We have not had that commitment to labor in a long time.
We must make the best of this opportunity. It too could pass. The 2021 elections in NYC are just as important. The Democrats have the advantage; the question, though, is whether or not the labor movement has the clout to elect candidates who support the trade union movement. Some talk the talk when they have to. Most want your money and some could care less about our issues. Individual labor unions support their own candidates and end up splitting the labor vote. The Democratic Party is in flux: Liberal, progressive, moderate, mainstream. Democratic Socialists are expanding their clout as an organization. Many issues that are not easily resolved must be addressed - immigration, racism, income inequality, policing, and more - and while we may have differences, we as trade unionists must toe the line and continue to focus on the working class issues tied to our livelihoods as union members. We know how we are better off because we are members of Local 3, and if we want to protect what we have then we need to organize within our own organization and continue to grow.