Every year as the cherry blossoms bloom in the Monument Park scattered across Washington D.C., so too are the bright lights shining on the IBEW’s annual Construction and Maintenance conference.
This year, business managers, representatives, and rank and file members from across North America gathered to focus on how to construct a better future.
On day one of C&M 2019, President Lonnie Stephenson addressed a packed house, starting by reflecting on the IBEW’s successes and growth in the last year.
President Lonnie Stephenson, “Since our last convention we’ve added more than 18,000 new construction members. We’re working more hours than ever before. We continue to nurture strong relationships with some of the biggest customers in the world, companies like Facebook and Google.”
While it’s common for challenges to face any organization, the IBEW has always taken a proactive step to finding solutions. While growth is necessary to combat a shortage of workers, there is one workforce made up of individuals with core values that align with the IBEW.
President Lonnie Stephenson, “Folks who already know something about working with their hands, and working as a part of a team. I’m talking about our veterans. The trades are a perfect fit for our returning service men and women. We’re looking to boost our efforts in reaching out to them in the coming years.”
It’s no secret that politics are engrained in almost every fiber of D.C., and there’s always a chance you could see a prominent figure while out. For the members of the IBEW attendees, they had to look no further than the stage to listen to a man who has helped shape our country’s landscape, Vice President Joe Biden.
Vice President Joe Biden, “This country was not built by Wall Street Bankers, CEO’s, and hedge fund managers. It was built by the great America middle class. How do you think we built the great middle class? Unions. Unions built the middle class.”
Vice President Joe Biden wasn’t there to announce his candidacy, or talk about policies he’s in favor of. He was there to talk about the IBEW and the importance of the union mentality.
President Stephenson said we need other political leaders to understand the value unions bring to help create those jobs. He also mentioned people who may not belong to a union. They still may be able to reap those benefits like a 40 hour work week, having paid holidays, having healthcare, and more.
Whether it’s working hard every day on the job site or mentoring others on the job, the simple fact is every hour counts. And as tradition, at the C&M conference, members in the audience stood and applauded three special members who have truly taken advantage of every hour. The 2019 Apprentice of the Year from Local 1, Corey Davis, the 2019 Instructor of the Year from Tucson, AZ, Ben White, and the 2019 Journeyman Mentor of the Year from and Local 77, Brady Hansen.
As day one of the General Session drew to a close, the work didn’t stop. In fact, as any IBEW member will tell you, it never does. It’s in our blood and we love our craft. Because IBEW members are exactly like no one else.