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September 2016

From the Officers
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At the IBEW's 39th Convention, Shaping Our Destiny

For our 39th convention, we return to our hometown, the Gateway City of St. Louis. Over the course of the week, we'll get to see our brothers and sisters from across the U.S. and Canada, share stories and pins, and choose the direction of this great union.

When the IBEW was founded 125 years ago, horses and buggies traversed the streets and the telephone was in its infancy. While we will walk those same streets with smartphones in our pockets, much of what we do during the convention will have echoes of those early days. As our founder Henry Miller knew at the turn of the last century, the rights of working people are not freely given. We must continue this fight together.

We have grown from a handful of members into a 725,000-strong Brotherhood. It wasn't easy, but we did it anyway because we know that we are stronger together. As we look to the future, we need to think about how we can organize the next worksite, recruit the next contractor and grow our union further, fulfilling Miller's goal of organizing every electrical worker.

Five years ago when we met in Vancouver, we were still coming out of the Great Recession. It was a tough time, but we didn't give up. We got bolder in our organizing. We grew our construction branch and welcomed new members from tree trimmers to satellite installers. We committed ourselves wholeheartedly to the Code of Excellence, demonstrating our commitment to professionalism and doing the best possible work.

We will elect our leadership at the convention, and rightly expect much from them. But it is the duty of every one of us to stand in solidarity, collectively, to do all we can to protect and expand our rights. We are all in this together.

This is when we determine how we will work for shared prosperity and a stronger voice on the job. This is when we set the course for our future, brothers and sisters. It's our responsibility.

This is when we, as a union, forge the next 125 years and determine what our legacy will be.


Also: Chilia: This Year, Down Ballot Races Are Key Read Chilia's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President