A group of young IBEW members from New York held their first “lobby day” in Albany, meeting with their elected representatives and getting the chance to sway them on a current piece of legislation.

RENEW/NextGen members from 10 New York locals meet with their elected representatives in Albany.

“I think they learned that their voices are powerful, and can make a difference. Change will happen if you want to make it happen, but you need to do the work,” said Third District International Representative Ellen Redmond, who is also the district’s political coordinator.

The group included 21 members from 10 local unions. They discussed a bill that proposed mandating that infrastructure projects in New York use American-made materials in the construction process such as steel and iron.

The members met with Senate Democratic conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and labor committee chair Marisol Alcantara and others about the Buy American bill. State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento addressed the group about the importance of lobbying and being politically active. 

“Buy American ensures that New York’s most significant infrastructure projects are built with materials that are safe and high-quality, help contribute to our local and national economies, create new jobs and protect workers right here in our own backyard,” Flanagan said.

The bill passed the Senate and Assembly on June 20, less than a month after the group’s lobby day and is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed.

“The younger members were able to see how difficult the process of creating and passing a bill is. They saw the efforts that our senators and representatives put forth in hopes of passing the bill,” said Syracuse, N.Y., Local 1249 organizer Timothy Daley, who is also an elected official as a trustee of the Village of Homer.

The passing of the bill made the response to the lobby day even more successful and rewarding than they could have hoped for, said Third District Youth Caucus co-chair Chris Erikson Jr. “Members got to see that effective lobbying can make a change.”

“We did run into a couple of representatives who needed some swaying, and our members did a great job in explaining why this bill is so important to working people of New York State,” Redmond said.

RENEW/NextGen seeks to invest the IBEW’s younger members in the future of the union. Members involved represented the following New York locals:

  • New York Local 3
  • Johnson City Local 10
  • Long Island Local 25
  • Syracuse Local 97
  • Albany Local 236
  • Niagara Falls Local 237
  • New City Local 363
  • Monroe Local 503
  • Long Island Local 1049
  • Syracuse Local 1249

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