Media Room


Governor Kate Brown
April 25, 2018

Good morning. Thank you, Travis, for that introduction. I am delighted to welcome everyone to the Annual IBEW Utility Conference.

I’d also like to acknowledge IBEW’s international leadership, and welcome President Stephenson and Secretary-Treasurer Cooper.

Thank you for coming to Oregon.

Oregon is thrilled to host this year’s conference. I hope you have a chance to explore Portland and enjoy some of our renowned restaurants, world-class breweries, and Voodoo Donuts.

It’s been three years since Oregon last hosted the IBEW Utility Conference. Since 2015, we’ve seen a great deal of changes on the national political landscape. Today, our unions face new challenges and are under increased pressure.

What has not changed, is IBEW’s commitment to its members, and to improving the lives of working Americans.

In Oregon, we value our unions. We celebrate Lineman’s Day in July and honor IBEW’s founder, Henry Miller.

Last year, I was proud to sign into law HB 3170. It expanded union rights to Oregon colleges and universities and empowered professors to organize.

And just this week, Oregon made history and set an important precedent when workers at a Portland Burgerville became the first fast-food workers in the nation to unionize.

As IBEW members, you are on the frontlines. You’re working everyday to light our cities and keep our communities and economy running.

As linemen and women, you’re working to maintain a healthy and reliable power grid-- one that we can all rely on every day. One that we know will be up and running quickly whenever anything goes wrong. 

In the face of wildfires, ice storms, and extreme conditions, you are there. I thank you for your service.

As all of you know, energy is essential to everything that we do every day.
Low-cost, reliable energy is also a critical tool for economic development here in the state of Oregon, both for existing businesses and for attracting new businesses.

I know that as union members, we can expect high standards for skills and professionalism. Skills you’ve learned through strong training programs. But these programs and the good jobs they lead to didn’t just spring up out of nowhere. You built them through your unions.

In Oregon, I’m focused on ensuring more of our workers have access to the skills training they need to meet these high standards.

As our economy continues to grow, I want to ensure the rising tide of prosperity lifts all boats-- including for women, low-income families, and communities of color.

We can accomplish this by working together to expand hands-on, “earn-while-you-learn” training opportunities in our high schools and beyond.

Let’s create more classroom plus job experience opportunities, and registered apprenticeship programs in sectors we’ve never seen before-- sectors driving the economy of the future, including tech and advanced manufacturing.

We know attacks on unions are coming. So here in Oregon, we're partnering with labor to figure out the best path forward to ensure our workers are well-trained, that they can support their families, and that they can continue to be vital partners in our communities.

Everyone in this room knows unions built our middle class. Yet today, as too many workers are being pushed out, IBEW is working to change our laws. Our unions are working to give workers a fighting chance.

Our unions are on the forefront, fighting for working families. Fighting to fix a rigged economy that’s hurting hard-working Americans.

Fighting a rigged economy that disproportionately hurts women, workers of color, and immigrant workers. 

In Oregon, we will fight for workers’ rights and protections. For those from other states, I hope you’ll join us and take this fight to your state capital. And to the ballot box.

When working people have the freedom to come together, we can lift all families. By working together, we can expand opportunities for everyone, and create thriving communities in every single state of the nation.

Thank you IBEW, and your union brothers and sisters, for helping to lead these efforts to protect workers.

It was my honor to be with you this morning. We have work to do, and I hope you’re just as inspired as I am to continue to fight.