The IBEW NextGen initiative began about 10 years ago, when it became apparent to former International Vice President, Phil Flemming, that Gen Y members weren’t as engaged in their Union membership activities as older generations were. Additionally, as older Baby Boom executives were retiring, succession planning would soon become an issue.
Not only are there over 18,000 (and growing) under-35 IBEW members across Canada and the United States, they often had no idea how Union meetings worked or how to raise issues of concern to them. For one example, Unions use the classic Robert’s Rules of Order to run meetings, which many younger members aren’t familiar with, as they often leap into a general Q & A format.
Gen Y members are also more technologically reliant than their forebearers, and often want information delivered via social media, e-newsletters or other electronic means. They are less comfortable attending meetings in-person if they don’t know what to expect.
The IBEW NextGen Initiative was created with the goal of helping younger Union members get the most out of their membership.
The IBEW in Canada is facing a growing leadership generation gap. The goal of the NextGen initiative is to make our organization representative of all of its members in order to increase youth engagement and grow the Union.
1620’s NextGen Committee goals are to inspire the next generation of Local 1620 members to become active by attending to issues that are important to younger workers. To provide the means for educational and social activities, strengthen the connections between young 1620 members. Encourage them to be fully informed about economic and political issues that affect them. Foster their relationships with established 1620 members and Local 1620 leadership and to continually make our organization representative of all of its members in order to increase youth engagement and grow the union.
The IBEW has many things to be proud of and we need to take every opportunity to educate our members about the fundamentals and positive attributes of our organization. We have to communicate those messages in a way that younger people can relate to: using social media with direct and concise messaging. Newer members do respect the experiences and knowledge of the older generation of Union leaders, but believe that as young people, they have a unique perspective that can also be used to support the work of the labour movement.
We urge 1620 members under the age of 35 to contact their NextGen Committee and get involved. This is a place where they can discuss issues relevant to them in their workplace and in their communities and to learn more about the structures and cultures of the IBEW and Local 1620 specifically.