October/November 2016

Behind the Scenes:
A Convention Comes Together
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The once-every-five-years production that is an IBEW International Convention takes nearly that long to plan, as officers and staff prepare to host more than 5,000 delegates, alternates and guests from all over the U.S. and Canada for five days of the highest lawmaking body of the union.

At its heart, the convention is a big union meeting attended by thousands of members. It's also an election. And on Day One, it's an elaborate production with music, flags, dancers and pomp. And bagpipes — dozens of bagpipes.

"Everyone looks forward to these opening ceremonies," said St. Louis Local 1439 Business Manager Mike Walter, who is also a member of the International Executive Council. "But you really have to experience it firsthand to understand the detail and degree of planning that goes into such a professional production."

This year's event required more than 100 union stagehands, camera operators and lighting technicians, who managed every detail from Monday's opening to Friday's close. Scores of IBEW staff from district offices and headquarters handled everything from registration to the design and printing of official convention materials, and dozens of drivers — including local volunteers — ferried delegates and guests to more than a week of events across St. Louis.

St. Louis Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs said he was especially proud of the IBEW members from his local who contributed to the effort, some of whom are employed at the convention center and many of whom volunteered time to fill in wherever manpower was needed. "It was such an honor to be one of the host locals for this convention, and the men and women of Local 1 did our city and our union proud," he said.

"We couldn't be any more pleased with the way everyone, from our delegates and host locals to our staff and contractors, came together to make this the IBEW's best convention yet," said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. "Years of hard work and preparation came together in St. Louis this year to put on a spectacular event."

For now, there's no time to look back. 2021 is just five years away.