October/November 2011

Guest Speakers Offer Added Vision, Enthusiasm to Proceedings
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Delegates had the honor of hearing from many engaging speakers throughout the week who have deep roots in trade unionism. Ranging from veteran IBEW leaders to activists both local and international, presenters energized the proceedings while stressing the importance of building bonds to carry the movement forward for working families.

British Columbia Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair addressed delegates during the convention's opening session Sept. 19. "We are on the front lines of ensuring a decent life for members—but tens of millions of working people don't have a union," he said. "So we have to build a movement that encompasses all working people who see us as their champions, not just as champions for the labor movement itself."

International Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Jerry O'Connor took the microphone Sept. 20 to emphasize that organizing is priority No. 1.
"So when President Hill and Secretary -Treasurer Chilia ask you to please organize, it's not just the IBEW that's at stake, it's the entire middle class,"
he said in his hard-hitting speech. "The only people who can organize are the local union officers and their members—us." O'Connor, who served as Sixth District Vice President before taking the post of Secretary-Treasurer, retired in 2005.

The convention also heard from Jeffrey J. Kanne, president and chief executive of the National Real Estate Advisors program, a subsidiary of the National Electrical Benefit Fund. Kanne reported on efforts to invest pension funds in projects that create IBEW construction jobs and secure members' retirement benefits.

"These funds are not just about money, they're about our values," Kanne said to the delegates during a presentation on real estate investment projects, including the Beekman Tower, a 76-floor skyscraper near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan built with union labor.

Recently retired International Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Lindell Lee commended the 38th International Convention Sept. 22 for incorporating so many younger members into its proceedings.

"It's wonderful to see so many young members here, including our young workers group, because you are truly the lifeblood of our organization," said the former Eleventh District Vice President. He retired this year after a more than 40-year IBEW career. "Our future is going to depend on you and your generation as we move forward."

Giving added emphasis to the theme "Brotherhood Beyond Borders," Carlo De Masi, secretary-general of the Italian Federation of Electrical Utility Workers, told delegates that the increasing internationalization of the electrical industry makes global solidarity more important than ever.

"The growing number of European energy companies operating inside the United States and Canada makes the relationship between our union and IBEW vital," he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson addressed delegates to advocate for strengthening ties between the U.S and Canada, the largest bilateral trade relationship in history. "The IBEW practices every day what I say about the relationship between the U.S. and Canada, an integrated relationship where we are brothers and sisters," he said.

Jacobson recounted how, during his confirmation process as ambassador, he drew inspiration from the flags of the U.S. and Canada atop the IBEW International headquarters near his home in Washington, D.C. He addressed the need for union members to support President Obama's American Jobs Act to help put Americans back to work and sustain demand for Canadian-made goods in the U.S. "Over $2 million in Canadian goods comes across the border every minute."

Drawing on his decades of steady guidance as an International Officer and business manager for New York Local 3, International Treasurer Emeritus Thomas Van Arsdale delivered a message urging delegates to learn from our countries' rich labor history traditions.

"I believe that the labor movement is one very important organization that can join with others to change and correct the laws of federal government that are unfair to workers and poor citizens," he said.

Van Arsdale became International Treasurer in 1978. He was re-elected to the office, then a part-time position, at the 35th International Convention in 1996. Two years later, in a referendum vote of IBEW locals, the duties of the International Treasurer were combined with those of the International Secretary, creating the new position of International Secretary-Treasurer. The International Executive Council then bestowed upon Van Arsdale the title of International Treasurer Emeritus. His dedication to the trade union movement continues the legacy of his family's activism, especially that of his father, Harry Van Arsdale Jr.

British Columbia Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair

International Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Jerry O'Connor

Jeffrey J. Kanne, chief executive of the National Real Estate Advisors program

Carlo De Masi, Secretary-General of the Italian Federation of Electrical Utility Workers

David Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador to Canada

International Treasurer Emeritus Thomas Van Arsdale