Delegates stand to vote after an inconclusive voice vote during extensive Law Committee debate on Thursday.

IBEW delegates approved amendments to the constitution that would attack some of the worst ills of our political culture and defend all members from bullying and harassment.

The convention delegates considered 20 more proposed amendments in a dozen more votes that would change, update or clarify amendments to streamline and reform the Constitution  of the IBEW.

One of the most notable changes was the addition of opposition to racism, sexism and fascism to communism, and Nazism on the list of movements the IBEW commits itself to oppose in its official declaration.

“The events in the United States on Jan. 6, 2021, show that authoritarianism and anti-democratic movements such as fascism are on the rise,” wrote the Law Committee in support of the change. “Your committee believes that fascism is just as subversive as communism or Nazism.”

Debate on three proposed amendments was combined. Two added racism and sexism. The Law Committee concurred with the only one that also added fascism to the list. No delegate spoke in opposition and a unified delegation approved the proposal by acclamation.

Four amendments were proposed to amend Article XXV and expand the list of member misconduct that is a chargeable offense to include bullying, harassment or discriminatory conduct.

Because of the similarities between the amendments, the Law Committee combined debate and concurred with the proposal that created a standalone section to the Constitution.

The final proposal, which was adopted by the full Convention without opposition, added a provision to the Constitution’s section on chargeable offenses to make chargeable harassment, bullying or discriminatory conduct at work or work activities and at union facilities or activities because of race, color, religion, age, creed, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status, disability or any other legally protected class.

The assembled delegates then rejected a proposed amendment that would have changed the name of the IBEW to the International Union of Electrical Workers after a spirited debate and rejected by voice vote several proposed amendments to directly elect international officers.

A proposal to restrict construction wiremen (CWs) from holding union office was ruled out of order because it violated federal labor law. It was not put to a vote.


Since its founding, the IBEW has understood the value and necessity of producing an official publication to keep in contact with the membership and keep them connected to the IBEW.

Article IV requires “monthly” publication of the Electrical Worker and International President Lonnie Stephenson and International Secretary-Treasurer Kenneth Cooper proposed giving more flexibility regarding the timing and manner of producing The Electrical Worker.

The delegates approved the committee recommendation by voice vote.


The Law Committee recommended concurrence and the delegates approved by acclimation a proposal from Stephenson and Cooper that would clear up an ambiguity in the constitution about how a member resigns from the IBEW.

Federal labor law allows a member to resign at any time, although a resigned member may still be required to pay dues if they signed a dues checkout authorization.  Article XX is clear about how one joins the IBEW, but there was nothing about leaving. The proposed amendment adds a new section to Article XX, Section 12 that requires a member wishing to resign to notify their local union president or recording secretary in writing to the local hall.

The Law Committee recommended concurrence. Stephenson could not determine the decision from the voice vote and called for a standing vote, with each faction standing in turn. The majority approved the Law Committee’s recommendation, and the amendment was passed.


Delegates considered two proposed amendments affecting how delegates to the International Convention are elected.

Article II requires that delegates and alternates to the convention be elected by secret ballot, but the Constitution is silent about the form of election for alternates. Some local unions simply use the highest vote getters who were not selected as a delegate. Others hold a separate election specifically for alternates.

A proposed amendment, which passed without opposition, added a single sentence to Article II, Section 10 clarifying that either method is valid.


Next a proposed amendment was considered that would add language to Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution. Local union delegation size is  based on the membership numbers of local unions, specifically the average monthly membership for the 12 months prior to March 31 of the year of the International Convention.

Locals can and do hold elections for delegates at many different times, in some cases, months or even years before that March 31 deadline. The result is that the number of delegates elected may not match the size of the official delegation the local is entitled to.

Official delegates may have to resign or new delegates be added, but there is no existing procedure in the Constitution to adjust the size of a delegation once delegate elections have taken place. Stephenson and Cooper proposed an amendment to fill that gap.

If a local union has too few delegates, under the proposed amendment, the local would promote the delegate candidate that won the most votes without being selected and so on until the delegation is full.  If the local has too many delegates, the election winner with the least votes would be demoted, again, until the delegation is correctly sized.

If there were no more candidates to choose from, the amendment proposal empowered the Executive Board to appoint a delegate, but that delegate would be ineligible to vote in elections for international officers.

The Law Committee concurred, no one rose in opposition and the committee’s recommendation of concurrence was approved by acclimation.


Delegates then considered a proposal to amend Article XVI, Section 11, which requires local unions to select a judge and as many tellers as are required to conduct and oversee elections.

The Constitution is silent, however, on when they need to be chosen.

This amendment proposal from Stephenson and Cooper requires judges to be chosen 60 days before nominations are due.

The Law Committee concurred, noting that, today, judge selection sometimes occurs after the election process is already underway. By putting election judges in place early, they will have time to attend training sessions from the International Office to ensure the election is run appropriately.

No one rose in opposition and the committee recommendation was approved by acclimation.


A similar proposed amendment sought to add a timeframe for filling positions.

Article XVI, Section 16 requires that vacancies in local union offices and positions as well as seats on the Executive Board be filled, but it doesn’t say when.

Stephenson and Cooper proposed an amendment requiring locals to fill those positions within 10 days.

The Law Committee wrote that it believed 10 days was insufficient and submitted a substitute amendment setting the requirement at 15 days.

No one rose in opposition and the committee recommendation was approved by acclimation.


Article XXVII, Section 2 allows amendments and resolutions for the International Convention to come from two sources: local unions and international officers. No matter the source, they must be submitted to the international secretary-treasurer at least 45 days before the International Convention.

This shared deadline creates at least two problems that officers hoped to solve with a proposed amendment.

First, it wastes time when local unions and international officers work separately to craft nearly identical amendments, as happened more than once this year alone.

Second, it doesn’t give the international officers sufficient time to research, analyze and respond, with their own proposals, to proposals from local unions that affect the use of international funds.

The proposed amendment would keep the 45-day deadline in place for local union amendment and resolution proposals, but would allow international officers to propose amendments or resolutions any time prior to the start of the Convention.

The Law Committee concurred, writing that the new procedure would be both more efficient and would give the International Officers time to consider and respond to local union proposals.

No one rose in opposition and the committee’s recommendation was approved by acclimation


Only one proposed amendment was altered on the floor.

The proposal altered Article III, Section 1 to require anyone who intends to be nominated for any of the constitutional positions to provide a “Notice of Intent to Be Nominated” 90 days prior to the start of the International Convention.

Several reasons were offered in support by the Law Committee, including ensuring compliance with rules prohibiting campaign donations from non-members. Further, tens of thousands of dollars are spent to procure and program voting machines, even if no elections are contended.

The Law Committee urged concurrence, noting that several large international unions have similar provisions including the UA, LIUNA and the Ironworkers.

During debate, a question was raised about what would happen if a candidate was ruled ineligible to run after the 90-day cut off and an amendment to the proposed amendment was offered from the floor. The amendment created a procedure to reopen the nominations for that race only.

First, the floor approved the amendment by voice vote and then approved the Law Committee’s recommendation of concurrence by a standing vote.


Finally, the delegates considered an amendment to ensure the fiscal integrity of local unions.

Article XVI, Section 5 forbids local unions from combining the offices of treasurer and financial secretary. The positions have separate roles managing local finances and act as a check on the other.

This amendment adds a section to Article XVI prohibiting local unions from combining the roles of president, treasurer and recording secretary, the other positions that oversee how local assets are used.

The recording secretary and the president direct how money should be spent. The president and treasurer sign the checks. Where the positions are combined, a single person could disburse funds without oversight.

For those local unions who have combined offices, a vacancy would open, and it would be filled through the normal process.

The Law Committee concurred that keeping them separate was a critical step to keep faith with the membership. No one rose in opposition and the committee recommendation was approved by acclimation.


With the business of the Law Committee finished, Law Committee Chairman and Chicago Local 134 Business Manager Don Finn took a moment of personal privilege to say it had been a great honor for him and his local to host the International Convention delegates and guests.

Stephenson excused the members and thanked them for their service to the Brotherhood.