International Executive Council Chairman Robert W. Pierson will retire at the end of the year and International President Lonnie R. Stephenson has selected Christopher Erikson, New York Local 3 business manager for the last nine years, to replace him.

Erikson assumes his new role on Jan. 1 and will continue as the Local 3 business manager.  His appointment was ratified unanimously by the executive council. Pierson has served as chairman since being appointed by then-President Edwin D. Hill in 2005 and was re-elected at the 2006 and ‘11 conventions.

International Executive Council Chairman Robert W. Pierson, center, with Chicago Local 9 delegates during the 2011 IBEW convention in Vancouver. Pierson will leave the position on Dec. 31.

“You won’t find a more faithful servant to the IBEW than Bob Pierson,” Stephenson said. “We will miss his wise counsel, but he’s earned a long, happy retirement. All of us at the IBEW consider him a friend.”

Pierson departs the executive council on Dec. 31. His official IBEW retirement comes on Jan. 8 – the same day he and wife Shirley celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary – and it also caps a 50-year career. He was initiated into Chicago Local 9 in 1966 and was elected business manager in 1997, a position he’s held ever since.

“I’ve had an extremely wonderful life,” he said. “I owe a lot to the IBEW. Fifty years ago, I never thought I would be where I am today.”

Pierson said his proudest accomplishments include organizing 1,100 cable television workers in and around Chicago in the 1980s and leaving Local 9 in strong financial shape with a good staff.

New York Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson has
been appointed to replace Pierson as IEC chairman.

“I think everyone knows in their heart when it’s their time to retire,” Pierson said. “I don’t think there’s much left for me to accomplish with my own local or the International. I’ve had a good run.”

He will be replaced by Erikson, 60, the grandson of the legendary Harry Van Arsdale Jr., who served as Local 3 business manager from 1933-68. Van Arsdale was the first president of the New York City Central Labor Council and was one of the most influential people in New York politics until his death in 1986.

Erikson succeeded Thomas Van Arsdale, his uncle, as business manager in 2006.

The nine-member IEC meets four times per year. It is the final authority on the granting of pensions, vested rights and disability payments.

“When Bob decided to retire, I wanted to fill the position with a strong leader from one of our strongest locals,” Stephenson said. “Chris has provided impeccable leadership while guiding Local 3 through the economic crisis and it continues to be a force in New York construction.”

“His commitment to our ideals is unwavering,” Stephenson continued. “He literally has been around the trade union movement since birth.”

Erikson began his Local 3 apprenticeship in 1975. He was appointed a business representative in 1989 before being named assistant business manager in 2000. He has negotiated about 150 bargaining agreements.

Like other family members, he’s become a leader on the New York labor scene. He serves on the executive boards of the New York City Building and Construction Trades Council and New York City Central Labor Council. He is a member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, IBEW Minority Caucus and NAACP.

“The trade union movement is being challenged all over the country,” Erikson said. “People look to the IBEW to lead. There’s no doubt about that. Our members need to remember our strength is in our solidarity.”