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June/July 2022

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Renewed and Recommitted

In May, delegates from nearly 550 local unions gathered in one of America's great union towns, Chicago, for our 40th International Convention.

Words like "historic" get thrown around a lot, but the truth is that this convention lived up to the billing. We've simply never had one like it.

For starters, the IBEW has never hosted a sitting president before.

We've never elected a woman as International Vice President, the Fourth District's Gina Cooper.

And we've never welcomed the first woman to head the AFL-CIO, Portland, Ore., Local 125's own Liz Shuler.

Amid all its history-making, our 40th Convention charted the course for the next four years. And we heard from speaker after speaker in Chicago that the next few years are ours for the taking if we capitalize on this moment we're in.

We've never had more powerful political friends than we do in this moment. President Biden made that clear when he came to our convention to thank us in person. "I would not be in the White House were it not for the IBEW. Period," he said.

And as he reminded delegates, he has returned our faith with actions, from passing a historic infrastructure bill and strengthening project labor agreements to nominating a union member, Marty Walsh, as Labor Secretary and appointing a pro-worker NLRB that stands with organizing workers rather than putting up obstacles to joining in union.

But it's not just the U.S. president who's standing with us. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent a message supporting our cause, and he's backed it up with a pro-worker government in Canada since the day he took office.

Elected officials from every level of government lined up to stand with us in Chicago, and we couldn't be happier to count them as allies in our fight.

Even more significantly, there's a generation of workers ready and eager at this moment to hear the union message. They see through the corporate lies that have dominated our national conversation for decades. From baristas to warehouse workers, working people are learning that it's a union, not the boss' empty promises, that makes a job a good job.

They want the power and protection of a union. And delegates in Chicago pledged to open the door to them.

We renewed our efforts to reach out to the rising generation of worker activists. We sharpened our message. We fostered a new cohort of leaders through caucuses for young workers, women and people of color, and we expanded our umbrella, committing through our IBEW Strong program to growing anywhere workers in the electrical industry want to come together in union.

We know that to survive, we need to grow, and we don't do that by closing our doors and pulling up the ladders of opportunity.

And while we celebrated labor's legislative wins and pledged to seize the opportunities available to us, we also prepared for the coming fight.

In the Government Affairs Caucus and throughout our week in Chicago, we hammered home the message that nothing we have now is permanent. Nothing is written in stone; no victory is forever.

Unions remain under attack from weapons like right-to-work laws and other assaults on organizing and collective action. Corporations and their political allies are determined to suppress workers' voices by any means necessary, and that starts with limiting their access to unions.

Fighting back means doubling down on our efforts to elect labor allies to office this fall.

It means recommitting to organizing and increasing market share and to living by the values embodied in our Code of Excellence.

Fighting back means sharing our successes so that more of our local unions can repeat them and learn from them, laying the groundwork for more growth.

I'm proud to say we did all of these things in Chicago, and we're ready to face the challenges that are coming – together.

It was a historic week for so many reasons, and we know that the next four years will bring even more IBEW victories as we work together to build a bigger, stronger and more inclusive union.

Whether you were with us in Chicago or not, thank you for everything you do for the IBEW, and thank you for staying in the fight.

Edwin D. Hill

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International Secretary-Treasurer