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‘Brotherhood Beyond Borders’
38th International Convention Begins in Vancouver

September 15, 2011

Thousands of IBEW members will convene in coastal Vancouver, B.C., this week for the 38th International Convention, starting on Monday, Sept. 19.

Nearly 3,000 delegates from all corners of the U.S. and Canada are expected. Along with staff, visitors, spouses and guests, as many as 6,000 will take part in IBEW events commencing Friday with pre-convention activities in Canada’s third-largest metropolitan area.

“The convention is the place for our solid leaders to take stock of where the IBEW is today, while laying the groundwork for our efforts moving forward,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill:

Our delegates understand the challenges we face as a movement, and I look forward to the discussions we will have in the next few days. We have some hard work ahead of us this week, but we also are looking forward to building bonds of unity as exemplified in our theme, ‘Brotherhood Beyond Borders.’

Pre-Convention Gatherings

Pre-convention events kick off Friday, Sept. 16, with an electrical industry expo, the IBEW Women’s Caucus and the union’s Political Conference.

Other events leading up to the convention opening include meetings of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, as well as the “Reach Out and Engage Next-Gen Workers” (RENEW) gathering of dozens of young workers from across the continent.

This year’s convention also features the much-anticipated IBEW Has Talent competition. Showcasing some of the union’s best singers and musicians, 11 acts representing all IBEW districts will light up the stage in their quests for top honors.

The show begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Pacific National Exhibition. Judges will select the top three finalists from the first round. Those winners will perform again, and then attendees will vote for their favorite act.

A wave of video submissions for the competition poured into the International Office after the contest was announced last December. The competition was broken down by districts – attendees at this year’s district progress meetings previewed each entry and voted for their favorites. Mark Brueggenjohann, International Representative in the Media Department, said the contest offered a chance for members to showcase their unique abilities outside the trade:

For it being the first time we’ve ever tried anything like this, it was a pretty solid success. We got great entries that really show a cross-section of our members’ varied talents.

I think attendees will really enjoy the acts. It’s always fun to see someone perform who you have a connection to, so watching fellow members of the Brotherhood should be exciting.

The Bang of the Gavel

The convention officially begins at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 19, in the Vancouver Convention Center. Temporary Chairman and First District International Vice President Phil Flemming will take the gavel and preside over opening ceremonies.

The week will be a mixture of discussion and decision-making by the 3,000-strong delegation, the highest law-making body of the IBEW. Convention business will be punctuated by guest speakers, including area and international labor leaders. Representing a cross-section of spiritual traditions, local religious figures will offer morning invocations.  The convention will also elect international officers to five-year terms.

Article II of the IBEW Constitution, amended at the 2006 convention in Cleveland, Ohio, stipulates that the union shall meet for its International Conventions every five years on the third Monday in September, at a location of the IEC’s choosing.

The first convention was held in St. Louis in 1891. More recent meetings have taken place in San Francisco in 2001 and Philadelphia in 1996.

The 38th International Convention represents the fourth time delegates have met in Canada. Past meetings have been in Montreal, Quebec, in 1923 and 1962, as well as in Toronto, Ontario, in 1986.

Attendees with hearing impairments will be able to easily follow convention proceedings, as Communication Access Real-Time Translation – or “CART” – services will be provided. CART is similar to closed captioning, but utilizes a reporter with a notebook computer and a stenographer keyboard to provide real-time paraphrasing and transcriptions. This is the first convention to feature such services.

In-Depth Coverage

This year’s convention also features a quantum leap forward in communications. This Website is a one-stop shop to follow updates – integrating blog updates, video and social media:

  • Read breaking news and coverage of proceedings, including pieces on a young workers’ summit, women’s and minority caucuses and more.
  • Catch vivid video of events, as well as unique packages exploring union culture in the city.
  • Facebook: Go to www.facebook.com/ibewfb  for the latest updates and news from the floor.
  • Twitter: Follow the IBEW on Twitter for the latest news and use hash tag #ibewcon2011 to join the conversation.
  • Flickr: Catch the latest scenes from Vancouver on the IBEW Flickr page.
  • YouTube: Get daily video updates on the IBEW’s YouTube page.

Convention attendees should also look for bright, colorful ads promoting the IBEW at the Vancouver International Airport and on bus shelters in the downtown area.

Click here to read more on the 38th Convention Web site.


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