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August 2022

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Our Sister, Our Leader

Thirty years ago, as a young woman overflowing with energy and ideas, Liz Shuler joined the mostly male staff of Local 125 in her hometown of Portland, Ore.

Liz has been a trailblazer ever since, and we couldn't be prouder.

Today, she is the first woman and first IBEW member ever elected to serve as president of the AFL-CIO — our own sister, the leader of the American labor movement.

One of the great honors of my life was nominating Liz at the AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia in June. And right next to me was her father, Lance, a retired power lineman also out of Local 125.

I know that Lance was beaming behind his face mask, like the rest of the IBEW delegation that stood with me on the convention floor.

"They say if you want the job done right the first time, call an IBEW electrician," I said in that history-making moment. "Throughout her career, Liz has embodied that common-sense, 'Do it the right way, not the easy way' approach that every IBEW member brings to the job."

As you'll read in this issue of The Electrical Worker, Liz has legions of fans among the people she's worked with, worked for and served — from her home local, across the Ninth District, to the International Office in Washington and in 14 years as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer. Folks can't say enough about her talent, work ethic, disposition, innate sense of fairness and passion for helping working people.

The convention made it official, but Liz has been proving herself as president since her predecessor, our friend and brother Rich Trumka, died suddenly last August. While all of us, Liz included, were reeling from the shock, she quietly stepped up and carried on as seamlessly as anyone could.

She'd be the first to say she didn't do it alone. Her trusted partner Fred Redmond, the first Black person to serve as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, has been at her side. Now, both of them have four-year terms and ambitious plans and goals, including organizing a million new union members over the next decade.

This may be hard to believe with so many people fighting for power these days, but that's not Liz at all. She didn't intend to be a leader and never sought the spotlight. She loves the work itself, being on the ground creating and executing big ideas. She kept her head down, worked hard and the spotlight found her.

I couldn't be happier to have Sister Shuler as our movement's leader for these next four years. She'll be a powerful ally, not only for the IBEW, but for every American worker, just as she has been for three decades.

Congratulations, Liz. Your IBEW family is behind you 100%.


Also: Cooper: Seizing the Moment Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President