The AFL-CIO Executive Council recognizes the incredible career of Lonnie R. Stephenson, the retired international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
A native of Rock Island, Illinois, Stephenson started his career as an apprentice wireman in 1975, joining IBEW Local 145. His leadership potential was recognized early on as he rose through the local’s leadership ranks, ultimately becoming its business manager in 1996. He was appointed international representative to the IBEW Sixth District in 2002 and became international vice president in 2010.
In May 2015, Stephenson was appointed international president to fill the unexpired term of then-President Ed Hill and was elected to the position by convention delegates a year later.
Stephenson focused on building collective power through organizing, and IBEW’s membership increased nearly every year of his presidency. He deepened the union’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, stewarding the IBEW Strong initiative to bring more people of color and women into the union.
His commitment to worker safety and raising the standards of workers in the United States and Canada was front and center throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as he worked to ensure new safety protocols were in place to help protect electrical workers across all seven industries of the IBEW.
Building partnerships with employer partners and community allies positioned IBEW members to build workforce development and training opportunities in existing and emerging sectors of the economy. His focus on the IBEW’s Code of Excellence raised the union’s reputation for highly skilled workers to another level and expanded opportunities for membership growth.
Stephenson served on a number of AFL-CIO Executive Council Committees, including vice chair of the Energy Committee where he helped position the labor movement to have an influential role in both the existing and emerging energy sector, and as vice chair of the Political Committee where he helped re-envision the AFL-CIO’s political program using a grassroots organizing model.
Stephenson’s vision and dedication will leave an imprint on North America’s working families for generations to come.
On behalf of the 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO, the Executive Council thanks our brother and friend, Lonnie Stephenson, for his service and solidarity, and we wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement.