LOCAL 1245 HELPS PUT THE FOCUS ON THE FUTURE AT IBEW’S INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
President Ed Hill opened the IBEW’s 38th International Convention on Sept. 19 by calling on IBEW leaders “to face the tough questions” and be willing to engage the membership “in the big discussions” about the future of the Brotherhood.
No issue is more critical to the future than recruiting and developing a new generation of union leaders. Hill made this clear months ago by inviting each state to name a young person to attend the convention to listen and to learn.
Local 1245 had four young members in its delegation, and they quickly moved beyond the listening stage to the active stage, mobilizing support for a Local 1245-sponsored resolution on “Engaging Young Workers” that called on the IBEW to hold an international conference for young workers in 2012.
When that resolution was merged with a similar resolution, the mandate to hold the conference in 2012 was lost–leaving it open-ended when such a conference might be held. On Sept. 20, the second day of the convention, Local 1245 delegate Elizabeth McInnis, 35, took the microphone to urge that a firm date of 2012 be specified for the youth conference.
“I rise in support of the resolution. However with the following amendment to the final paragraph,” McInnis said, her voice echoing across the cavernous convention center where more than 2,000 delegates were gathered. McInnis continued:
“Be it finally resolved that the IO will develop a conference specifically designed to encourage the growth of young workers within the IBEW and that that first conference will be held in 2012.”
President Hill suggested that the more specific wording wasn’t necessary, but another delegate joined McInnis’s call to specify a 2012 date. When Hill put the matter to a vote, the amendment was accepted overwhelmingly.
Earlier that morning Local 1245 member Graciela Nunez, 27, handed out leaflets on “youth leadership development” to hundreds of IBEW delegates as they entered the Vancouver Convention Center. The leaflets summarized the efforts that Local 1245 has taken over the past year to train and empower young leaders. (Joining Nunez in passing out the leaflets were the somewhat less-young Local 1245 staff members Al Fortier, Darryl Norris and Dorothy Fortier.)
Local 1245 members Lorenso Arciniega and Jennifer Gray were also active on the floor of the convention in support of Local 1245’s resolution on “Engaging Young Workers.”
In a stirring keynote address on Sept. 19, the first day of the convention, President Hill left little doubt where he stood on mobilzing for the future, saying:
“Our day is being reborn, renewed and redefined every day, just as it has been throughout our 120-year history. Brothers and sisters, if you want a better IBEW, demand it! If you want a better IBEW, work for it!
“If you want a better IBEW, join me to regain our place in history, to regain our place at the table. It’s all still there, brothers and sisters: the spirit, the flame, the passion, the undying commitment to the cause of organized labor. It llives, just the way it lived in our fathers and mothers, just the way it is growing in our children every day.
“This is not the time to leave it buried within us, this is not the time to let fear extinguish that fire. This is the time for action. This is the time for courage. This is the time to stand up against all odds, reclaim our birthright–a society where those who labor for a living have dignity, opportunity and justice, because those things are not guaranteed, they’ve never been given freely, they’ve never been won cheaply. They are the things we hold most dear. We will hold onto them. We will fight for them, we will pass them along to those who follow us.”
The convention runs through Friday, Sept. 23.