Durbin Honors Work Of IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson Ahead Of His Retirement

Stephenson has served as IBEW’s International President since 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor recognizing IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson’s dedication to the labor movement. Stephenson, a Quad Cities native, is set to retire from his post at the end of this year.

“Lonnie started off as an apprentice wireman, and even then, he knew the value of a union,” said Durbin. “He rose through the ranks of IBEW Local 145, becoming vice president before taking over as business manager in 1991. All the while, he fought to make things better for families in his home area of the Quad Cities through safe working conditions, fair wages and benefits, and a secure retirement. He spent countless hours organizing and grew his local from 700 to more than 1,100 members. He gave back to his community in so many different ways.”

Durbin continued on, highlighting the legislative victories that Stephenson played a major role in achieving. 

“Lonnie was a driving force on many more pieces of historic legislation. From the CHIPS and Science Act to the Inflation Reduction Act to saving the pensions of millions of union members and retirees in the American Rescue Plan Act,” Durbin said. 

Durbin commended Stephenson for his resiliency as he led IBEW. 

“Lonnie faced some daunting challenges during his tenure as President of IBEW. The former Illinois governor supported an agenda of unrelenting hostility to unions…former President Trump made it very clear he favored special interests at the expense of many of Lonnie’s workers and their families. Then, Lonnie was faced with a global pandemic that created an unprecedented economic crisis that shuttered businesses and created massive unemployment,” said Durbin.

“He faces challenges head on. He stood up for working families and organized thousands of new IBEW members. And he made sure that his union’s new membership was reflective of the community,” Durbin continued. 

Durbin also praised Stephenson’s efforts to ensure that union labor has a place in the future of the American economy. 

“Lonnie has worked to prepare IBEW members for the jobs and industries of the future. One example – the bipartisan infrastructure law. [There was] a provision in there that includes $7.5 billion for construction of national EV charging networks, built with union labor,” Durbin said. 

Durbin concluded his tribute to Stephenson by emphasizing his work’s impact across the country. 

“Illinois, and the entire nation, have been lucky to have had a champion of working people like Lonnie Stephenson,” said Durbin. “I will miss working with Lonnie, and I feel fortunate to consider him a friend. Loretta and I wish him a long, joyous retirement.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.