International President Lonnie R. Stephenson gaveled the 40th IBEW International Convention in Chicago to a close on Friday, May 13, an historic occasion marked by a visit from the sitting President of the United States and the election of the first woman to International office.
In closing remarks, he announced the host city for the 41st International Convention, which will be held in San Diego in 2026 and reminded delegates of the fun and work they’d been part of over the previous nine days.
The Convention began with a weekend of volunteering and good times.
A day of service brought hundreds of IBEW brothers and sisters to clean up parks around the city and a picnic brought everyone to the iconic Soldier Field on the Lake Michigan waterfront.
That night the celebration began in style with comedian Nick Offerman opening for the classic rock legends Styx.
Throughout the weekend, the RENEW/NextGen, Government Affairs, Women’s and Electrical Workers Minority Caucuses got together to share ideas, network and chart the future and build the bonds of brotherhood.
On Monday, the work of the convention began in earnest. The leadership team of Stephenson, International Secretary-Treasurer Kenny Cooper and International Executive Council Chairman and New York Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson were all returned to office by acclamation of the nearly 2,000 delegates.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared by video to praise the good work the IBEW/FIOE does building his nation’s middle class and the infrastructure that makes Canada work. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Sixth District International Vice President Paul Noble and Chicago Local 134 Business Manager Don Finn all welcomed the IBEW to heartland of American organized labor.
District caucuses then held their elections for Vice President and IEC representative.
On Tuesday, the crucial and technical work of updating the laws and Constitution began and district election results were announced.
The convention was visited by one of our own, who is breaking new ground in the labor movement, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.
The first brother from overseas spoke to the delegates, Paddy Kavanaugh, general secretary of Ireland’s Connect Trade Union. Delegates also heard from David Long and Kirk Davis, CEO and president of construction partners NECA.
Illinois Senate President Don Harmon and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth spoke and delegates heard from an old friend, International Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Salvatore “Sam” Chilia, by video.
When everything else at the 40th International Convention is forgotten, the third day will long stick in the mind of attendees.
For the first time in its history, the IBEW hosted a sitting president, Joseph R. Biden, who repeated his belief that he simply would not be in the White House without the IBEW.
Consideration of proposed resolutions continued but it was a day for speeches, with appearances from North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Emanuel Chris Welch, Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats Martin Helms among others.
The visit from the president was extraordinary, but it left a mountain of work for Day 4. Nearly 60 constitutional amendments and resolutions were debated and voted on. The International Executive Council and newly-elected international vice presidents spoke to the delegates and the results were ratified, including Fourth District IVP Gina Cooper, who made history becoming the first woman ever elected an international officer in the IBEW.
The podium was visited by a parade of friends from across the international labor movement including AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond, Canadian Labour Congress Executive Vice President Larry Rousseau and Allen Hicks, National Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
Stephenson then had an extraordinary sit-down conversation with National Football Hall of Famers Larry Kramer and Mike Singletary, honoring them for their work with the IBEW supporting the National Child Identification Program.
The final day of the Convention completed the set of Illinois political leaders with an appearance from Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. President of the Danish Union of Electricians Jørgen Juul Rasmussen completed the roster of international guests who spoke to the Convention.
IBEW General Counsel Jon Newman delivered a scorching assessment of Trump administration record on labor policy and how things have changed for the better under President Biden.
Final duties were dispatched by the delegates, including wrapping up grievance and appeals hearings, a handful of resolutions and appointing delegations to other international conventions.
Stephenson gaveled the convention to a close late Friday morning, thanking delegates for their diligence and wrapping up a historic week that advanced the cause of working people and the IBEW and charted a course for the next four years.