Erikson, Stephenson and Chilia take the stage after the voting.
Lonnie R. Stephenson was unanimously elected the IBEW’s 17th international president Sept. 19, at the opening of the 39th International Convention.
International Secretary-Treasurer Salvatore “Sam” Chilia was reelected and New York City Local 3 Business Manager Christopher Erikson was chosen to be the chairman of the International Executive Council.
Choosing the three senior officers of the IBEW was the first order of business. Nearly 2,000 delegates from almost 700 locals elected Stephenson, Chilia and Erikson by unanimous voice vote.
Stephenson’s election came, he said, 25 years after he attended his first convention as a delegate for his home local, Rock Island, Ill., Local 145.
“If anyone had told me then that I would be back here 25 years later as president of our great international union, I would have told them they’re crazy,” he said. “It would have been the furthest thing from my mind. But now that I’m here, I couldn’t be prouder or more humbled than I am right now standing before you today.”
Stephenson has been International President since the IEC appointed him to complete the term of International President Emeritus Edwin D. Hill, who retired in 2015.With the election, he begins a full 5-year term.
Stephenson used his acceptance speech to shine a light on the people who mentored him and to thank the members for their trust.
“You are our foundation, you are the trunk of our oak tree that feeds and supports each branch of our great union,” he said. “While each branch is diff erent, each one is equally important to our very existence. Together, you and I and everyone I mentioned previously – we together are the IBEW and I’m damn proud to be here.”
Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 business manager Tom Dalzell nominated Stephenson, calling him “a fi ghter, a diplomat, and a preacher of the gospel of organized labor and trade unionism.”
Chilia was nominated by Cleveland Local 38 Business Manager Dennis Meaney, who recalled their time working with the tools together nearly 20 years ago. “It is said that unionism comes naturally to an unselfi sh person. Sam is that person.”
Chilia thanked his family and the men and women who shaped his career. Chilia said he sees bright days ahead for the IBEW with Stephenson at the helm.
“Lonnie is a humble guy, and the last person to talk himself up. So let me do it,” Chilia said. “I haven’t been this excited about the future of this union in so many years. We stand on a powerful foundation. We enjoy a rich and inspiring history, and now, it’s in our hands.”
Erikson thanked the members of Local 3, President Stephenson and the convention delegates for the privilege of serving as IEC chairman. “There is no greater honor than to be elected by your peers to represent them. Whether you are an elected officer of this great organization or a convention delegate, you have the same responsibility: to act on their behalf with integrity and with the resolve that the decisions you make are in their best interest.”