The Electrical Worker online
August 2021

From the Officers
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A Stronger IBEW

One year ago we announced the IBEW Strong initiative in this newspaper, and I want to thank each of you for everything you've done to make the IBEW a more diverse, inclusive union that is growing more representative of the communities we call home each day.

I especially want to thank the locals that have embraced our challenge to reach beyond traditional boundaries and extend the opportunities of the IBEW to young people and other workers who might not otherwise have considered joining our ranks. We are so much stronger for their membership and solidarity.

This month I want to highlight just one of the programs that's doing the hard work required to fulfill the promise of IBEW Strong.

In Detroit, Local 17 and utility DTE need tree-trimmers, lots of them. Detroiters need jobs. So, the two partnered with a community organization called Focus: HOPE to bring good-paying, union jobs to people committed to learning the ropes and working hard.

Earlier this year, Detroit's Tree Trim Academy graduated its first class, putting a dozen young men and women on the path to life-changing careers in the industry. This new academy, which works hand-in-hand with Local 17 and DTE's long-successful tree-trimming boot camp and apprenticeship programs, is open to anyone, but it puts a special emphasis on recruiting promising young men and women from the city of Detroit.

Tree-trimming is tough work, and it requires professionals willing to work at great heights, often in terrible weather. It's not for everyone. But for those who can cut it, the opportunity is there to make more than $100,000 per year. That's life-changing money for many Detroiters.

I'm excited to see what's happening at Local 17, and you can read more about it in this issue. And I'm glad to see so many other locals across North America taking steps to recruit more women, more people of color, more LGBTQ+ people into the IBEW.

It's really very simple. The future runs on the things we do best, and IBEW members for 130 years have been the men and women bringing electricity and data connectivity to factories, homes and businesses and making things work.

If we're going to survive for another 130 years or more, we need every person available to build and maintain the infrastructure that keeps powering innovation and productivity in our two countries. That means there's a place for your children if they choose to join this union just as there's a place for those who've not grown up knowing the opportunities the IBEW can provide.

Our doors are open. If you're eager to learn, to give a full day's work for a full day's pay and to take pride in what you're doing, then there's a place for you in the IBEW. That's what IBEW Strong is all about. Keep up the great work and keep sharing your successes. We can all learn so much from what's working well at our local unions.


Also: Cooper: Celebrating Our Freedom Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President