Date Posted

Over 500 young IBEW members met last month in Pittsburgh to participate in the IBEW RENEW NextGen Conference. Held over four days in September, young and engaged members from local unions across the U.S. and Canada came together to participate in workshops, trainings, plenary sessions, and local labor activities, all geared towards strengthening the sisterhood and brotherhood within the IBEW.
Local 3 sent a group of active young workers to represent our local. Journeymen Rob MacLeish and Manny Yllescas were joined by Apprentice Advisory Committee officers Caleen Davis, Tina Casapao, and Muhammad Shamsideen. They were led by Local 3 Business Representative and RENEW Advisory Council member for the 3rd District Christopher Erikson Jr. In his role on the RENEW Advisory Council and as co-chair of the 3rd District Youth Caucus RENEW, Erikson Jr. represents young workers throughout the IBEW in NY, NJ, PA, and Delaware. The RENEW Advisory council, made up of 1 young worker representative from each of the 11 IBEW Districts and the Electrical Worker Minority Caucus, helped organize the four-day conference.
The conference program began on Wednesday evening with registration and an opening reception and tour of Local 5’s training center. The conference began in earnest at Thursday morning’s opening plenary session with a welcome by Rachel Bryan, International Rep from the Civic and Community Engagement Department and main conference organizer, and greetings from newly appointed IBEW 3rd District Vice-President Mike Welsh. The conference was held in the 3rd District specifically because of the hard work and success achieved so far in the young worker initiative throughout the 3rd District.
IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson gave the Keynote address and spoke of the need for young workers to step up in their local unions. Secretary-Treasurer Kenneth Cooper also addressed the young delegates. The IBEW officers also held an informative Q & A session, opening the floor to questions from the delegates.
The guest speakers for the morning were Alicia Garza, Special Projects Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and one of the organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Mark Breslin, strategist and speaker who is well-known in the construction organizing world. Both speakers stressed the need to organize within our ranks to strengthen our resolve and ensure an inclusive IBEW that stands up for working people.
The rest of the RENEW conference included District Caucuses and several workshop sessions. The topics ranged from organizing and labor history, leadership styles, communication and public speaking, to politics and an analysis of the corporate agenda. IBEW-focused workshops covered the history and structure of our organization, the Code of Excellence, Member-2-Member organizing, steward training, and building young worker RENEW groups. These various workshops provided a strong base of knowledge, techniques, and skills for the delegates to take home to their local unions and share with their membership.
Apprentice Advisory Committee chairwoman Caleen Davis enjoyed the conference, saying, “I had a wonderful time at the 2017 Renew/NextGen Conference. After attending workshops that fostered effective communication and encouraged building relationships between our union and our community, I am certain we all left Pittsburgh feeling empowered. I am excited to share what I have learned and put it to practice within my career and life.”
The 2017 IBEW RENEW Conference was a successful coming together of over 500 young IBEW members, to engage and educate the next generation while ensuring today’s strong membership develops into tomorrow’s IBEW leadership. The event was a success because of support for the initiative from our International Officers, District Vice-Presidents and local union leadership.