Cooper to succeed Stephenson at IBEW

Washington (PAI) — The Electrical Workers (IBEW) board has elected union Secretary-Treasurer Kenneth Cooper to succeed current President Lonnie Stephenson, who is retiring Jan. 4. Sixth District Vice President Paul Noble will succeed Cooper.

“It’s been the honor of my life to serve the members of the greatest union in the world and advance the cause of trade unionism in the electrical industry,” Stephenson, a member of Local 145 in Illinois and a Rock Island native, said in an IBEW statement. “As hard as it is to step aside, I am confident that the IBEW remains in good hands.”

“I’m proud of everything we accomplished together,” Stephenson added. “This was never about me, but about all of us working together as a team to make the IBEW bigger, stronger and more effective for improving the lives of our members and future members. Thank you to each and every IBEW member for your contributions over the last seven years.”

“Lonnie’s been more than my working partner for these last few years,” said Cooper, from Local 688 in Mansfield, Ohio, who will serve the remainder of Stephenson’s term. The two were re-elected to their present jobs at the union’s 2022 convention in Chicago. “Every day I had a front-row seat to witness his dedication to growing the IBEW, and he leaves our union in a much stronger place than when he started.” IBEW has 775,000 members.

“President Stephenson leaves behind a great legacy. We are a bigger, stronger and more diverse union than we were seven years ago,” he said. “I am committed to building on that legacy as we work to fulfill our fundamental mission: ‘to organize every worker in the electrical industry.’”

First elected president in 2015, after rising through local and regional posts, Stephenson became increasingly influential in the Labor Movement since then. He also had the honor of hosting both the first-ever U.S. president, Joe Biden, to address the IBEW Convention, and the first-ever IBEW member to lead the AFL-CIO, Liz Shuler, at that same Chicago conclave.

In his speech to the convention this year, Biden thanked both the IBEW and Stephenson for helping him both launch his political career and for aiding his run for and win of the White House.

“The only reason I’m standing here now as president of the United States is because the IBEW came on with me early,” Biden said there.

Stephenson, introducing Biden, said, “He has our back and we have his.”

The union’s statement lauded Stephenson’s commitment to organizing—the union grew every year of his reign—to high standards for electrical workers and the industry and for following through on a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“We know that to survive, we need to grow, and we don’t do that by closing our doors and pulling up the ladders of opportunity,” Stephenson told the convention delegates then.

“The next few years are ours for the taking if we capitalize on this moment we’re in. We’ve never had more powerful political friends than we do in this moment.”

One such top friend, Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), an IBEW local leader and former president of the South Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council, added Stephenson’s “a worker’s Labor leader.

“He began his career as an IBEW apprentice, and that experience shaped his service on behalf of working people over the next five decades,” said Norcross. “Lonnie’s tenure as international president has been marked by a fierce commitment to fair working conditions. IBEW is larger, stronger, and more diverse than ever before, thanks to Lonnie’s commitment to the working men and women who are the backbone of the American economy.”


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