The Electrical Worker online
January 2023

From the Officers
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A Lifetime of Gratitude

Brothers and sisters, this is the last time I will be addressing you as international president, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the IBEW and our members.

Retirement wasn't an easy decision, but it was one I made with my wife and partner, Dawn, that we were ready to finally enjoy the fruits of nearly 50 years in the IBEW. It's a dream each of us started with, brothers and sisters, and for many of us the reason we joined the union trades in the first place.

Our decision was made easier knowing that my dear friend and brother, Kenny Cooper, is ready and able to take the reins of this great Brotherhood and lead it into the future. The IBEW is in good hands with Coop and incoming Secretary-Treasurer Paul Noble, and I'm confident that they'll continue the great work we started together.

Most important, I'm confident in you, our members. Your hard work and dedication to this great union, to one another and to future generations of IBEW members means the greatness of the IBEW has never been dependent on one person. The spirit of the IBEW, the strength of the IBEW, is in your commitment to being the best of the best, day in and day out.

Whether I was walking into the White House or the Capitol or any other place I'd never have dreamed of being invited as a young wireman from Rock Island, Illinois, I was never under the illusion that any of it was about me. It's the power of 775,000 of you standing with me that earned the respect of whoever I was talking to.

That's because you do the work that makes North America work. Period. Every industry and technology of the future is made by you, built by you, maintained by you, and they know it. You prove it to them every day.

As I approach retirement, I've been thinking a lot about my great friend Jerry Kavanaugh, who asked me to join his staff at Local 145 more than 30 years ago. I learned so much from him, and when he asked me to run to replace him as business manager five years later, it was one of the great honors of my life.

I've always said being a business manager is the hardest job there is, and I hold so much admiration and respect for so many of the great local leaders I've met along the way. Your contributions are not lost on any of us at the International Office.

I'm proud of our accomplishments during my time as international president. Legislative victories like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act — combined with our commitment to the IBEW's Code of Excellence — will put our members to work for decades. The American Rescue Plan and the Butch Lewis Act saved the pensions of millions of union retirees. The IBEW Strong program and our relentless focus on organizing will ensure that the IBEW continues to grow and evolves to look more like the communities we serve.

But it's the relationships, with folks in the IBEW and the larger labor movement, that I'll cherish most about my time as a leader in this Brotherhood. So many of you have had a profound impact on the man and the union leader I've become, and the opportunities to meet and build relationships both inside and outside the IBEW have been incredible.

I've gotten asked for a long time, as international representative, vice president and most recently as international president, "What does it take to get your job?" And here's the answer I always give: I have no idea.

This is because the opportunities available to you in the IBEW are limitless, and if you show up every day ready to work and you do your job as well as you possibly can, you never know where your career will take you.

At my core, I'm just an electrician who got to go on an incredible ride because of this amazing organization. Thank you all for the opportunity to serve you these last seven years.


Also: Cooper: Thank You, Brother Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President