“I pledge to you that my life is devoted to our cause.”
First, let me say what an honor and a privilege it is to have been elected by our International Executive Council to succeed International President Charles W. Jones as your International president.
The president's job, and the inherent responsibility of this office, more than any other job in our union, requires that I devote my life to the service of our members and to the cause of our union.
I pledge to you that my life is devoted to our cause, and to my responsibilities as your president, just as my life is also devoted to the needs and to the bonds of my wife and my children.
At our last convention, your International officers pledged to you that we would work together in the best interests of our union and our members.
We have worked hard to fulfill that pledge. For the most part, I believe we have done just that.
But we are human. Sometimes, the pressures and responsibilities and differences we deal with every day get the better of us.
Like it or not, we must sometimes deal with the political underpinnings of our relationships as your officers, and that is not always easy.
Politics, by its nature, can set us either in pursuit of the same agenda or at odds with our best friends. And as much as we might each feel that we are right and the other is wrong, we all agree on one thing: Our International Brotherhood's constitution is law and its governance is absolute.
We might, at times, differ on its interpretation, but when our convention is in session and our duly-elected local lodge delegates vote on a constitutional issue, there is no other possible interpretation. Between conventions, there is no other interpretation except by decision of the International president or, ultimately, the International Executive Council.
Your International Executive Council has made a decision to elect and support me as your International president and to move forward in the best interests of our union and its members.
Their decision was not unanimous. Decisions of a political nature rarely are. But I believe I have the sincere support and good will of all International officers going forward. And I intend to earn your support in my tenure as your International president.
Our recent round of International Executive Council meetings were, by most accounts, some of our best meetings in recent memory. They are just a beginning, but an important one.
I have pledged to my fellow officers to respect and work with each of them to do the business of our union. They have made the same commitment. I believe, going forward, we will each do just that in the best interests of our union and its members.
Our union has endured over 120 years of adversity and challenge, from those who would destroy us to those who would mount our trophy head upon their archive walls.
Let me assure you that, if we stand and work together, we will not become some other organization's trophy, nor will we be destroyed.
Our resilience as a union is what insures our survival in a difficult world. Our strength is drawn from our ability to disagree internally on any given issue, but then to agree to support the will of the majority, even if we continue to disagree. This, truly, is the key to our union's great history and to our future.
We cannot change the past. We can only move forward. But we can move forward in a way that makes our local officers, our staff, and our members proud and that sets the pace for each to follow. We can lead. Our International officers agree, to a man, that we must move forward, that we must strive to improve our performance at every turn, and that we must continually do our best and then strive to do better.
All International officers are dedicated to this union and to our responsibilities as International officers. We each love and respect our union. We each want to do the job you elected us to do. And we're going to work together for our union and for you.
I am pleased to report that we, your International Executive Council, have unanimously elected former International President Charles W. Jones as our International president emeritus, in honor of his distinguished service of over 60 years, 20 of which were served as our International president.
He intends to, among other support activities, help organize new members and new collective bargaining units for our union. What a great example for each of us to follow.
We have much to do. We're going to do it together. I know your International officers would want me to ask only that you give us your support, your help and your trust. That is what gives us the strength and the ability to do the jobs you expect of us.
And just as we need this from you, so does the candidate our union has endorsed for president of the United States of America. Congressman Richard Gephardt has long fought for those issues and rights that help workers and their unions. He needs our help and our support to achieve a goal that will bring that same agenda of action to the top political office of our nation.
As president, Gephardt will fight for fair trade laws, not the kind of unfair trade laws that send our jobs out of our country.
He will fight for fair employment laws, not unfair laws that strip workers of their rights to overtime pay.
He will fight to enact a health care plan that will provide health care coverage to all Americans and stimulate the economy, not giveaways to drug and insurance companies.
Congressman Gephardt needs our union's support. He needs each Boilermaker member's support and the support of each Boilermaker family.
I ask you, now, to give your support to Congressman Gephardt, just as you give your help and support to your union. He is a man of honor and courage. We need him as our nation's leader. But he can't get there without our help. So, please, find a way to help. Contribute in any way you can to support his campaign.
Your International officers and I thank each of you for choosing to belong to our great union and for doing all you can to make us stronger.