IBEW Local 35
208 Murphy Road
Hartford, CT 06114
p (860) 525-5438 f (860) 278-4373
info@ibewlocal35.org
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About So Called Right to Work (RTW) Legislation

 

These days, much is written about the so called Right to Work (RTW). I would like to clarify this issue for our members, customers, and the communities we serve in Connecticut. It is essential that we fully understand this piece of legislation and its impact on us.

 

While right to work is not state law in Connecticut, we have seen that the same anti-worker propaganda that drove this legislation in formerly strong manufacturing  states like Michigan and Indiana is also present here. We must be very careful, as citizens, not to be drawn in and seduced by such language that promises an "easy fix" to our lingering economic challenges.

 

We at Electricians Local 35 feel it is important to remember the words of Dr. King, who spoke eloquently and directly on the issue of Right to Work and identified clearly the menace that this kind of legislation and thinking poses to all workers and Connecticut trades people, both affiliated and non.

 

We must never forget that Dr. King died while marching with the Memphis Sanitation workers,  to uphold their right to organize and bargain collectively. The workers were organizing for both wages and dignity as Dr. King told his audience the night before he died.

 

Previously, on the specific subject of called Right to Work Laws, Dr. King noted in 1961:

 

We must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”Dr. Martin Luther King

 

 

 

While the construction trades have our own issues unique to our individual skills and craft, compared to those Memphis Sanitation workers, it is also true that without their efforts, the lives of working men and women in both our state and the United States would be quite different. For this we are in their debt, as well as the Connecticut workers and electricians who have preceded us.  We are the guardians of their legacy, and the actions we take now will impact our children's and grand-children's future.

 

 

Right to work supposes that construction costs, specifically, the cost of the skilled labor required to construct and maintain Eastern Connecticut's buildings and infrastructure, is artificially high - due to, quote, “Big Labor's” selfish interference and meddling.

Please allow us to debunk this myth.

 

Our affiliated electrical contractors all run succesful businesses that are bound by the same market forces as any other. We understand that we must always provide exceptional value, and return on investment (ROI) to Connecticut's general contractors, developers, and project managers, as well as to its residents, regardless of what project we work on.

“Right to work” would in fact artificially suppress the wages of workers who have spent years developing the necessary skills and on the job training required to perform necessary energy upgrades and safe electrical work. It is this training that will help Connecticut upgrade its grid, and related energy management, distribution, and delivery systems in the years to come.

Right to work's sole basis is a reliance on fear - the well known race to the bottom. Its proponents will tout it as a job creator, when in fact, it is wage suppressor.  Every day we read more and more stories about the devastating impact of wage inequality is having on ordinary families and workers in Connecticut and the United States. Again, we ask, what type of legacy do we wish to leave our children? Both the Eastern Connecticut electricians and the workers in the communities around us share this responsbility.

All of us will benefit from buildings constructed by those best trained to do so – who are compensated by a working, livable wage. This in turn stimulats the surrounding economy. What Connecticut business – of any kind – would not benefit from workers with actual disposable income to spend? Economists term this well-known impact of livable wages the multiplier impact. Any avoidance or confusion of these economic facts, no matter how much the “steak may sizzle” is pure fantasy.

 

To be sure, there are also some non-affiliated firms who provide excellent training and care deeply about the safety of their electricians and employees. To such firms we extend our hand : please join us! Any race to the bottom in our trade will adversely impact your business as well.

 

Organized electricians join the working men and women across America in fighting this attempt to artificially lower our wages by placing tradesmen who have organized at a distinct disadvantage.

 

Our customers, the building owners and occupants who use our affiliated contractors' services everyday, would also face consequences : the safety of the buildings they work in could potentially be jeopardized by substandard electrical work, not to mention increased energy operating costs from inefficient systems.

We in Connecticut know only too well the consequences to our trade and citizens when short-cuts are made.

 

Please do not take these words as my sole opinion. IBEW-NECA safety and training instructors will all say exactly this : the intricacies of modern day electrical work in our current environment create both security and safety challenges. In the name of winning contracts, these risks are downplayed by firms and owners who either have 1) not made similar investments in requisite safety and training or 2) seek to impose restrictions on Connecticut's ability to decide collectively the best way ahead with our necessary structural improvements.

 

Just because something is priced lowed doesn't mean it costs less. We in Connecticut know all too well that it can, and will cost us much, much more. When safety is compromised, and jobs are short cut, workers and tenants die.