Honoring History, Lighting the Future: IBEW Local 40 Marks Milestone  

By Robert Fulton 

Members of IBEW Local 40 and their guests celebrated the union’s centennial with a made-for-Hollywood party on May 4. 

The event actually celebrated the Local’s 101st anniversary — more on that later — and took place on the Midwest Street backlot at Warner Bros. Studios. 

The party featured plenty of food and drink, a live band, dancing and Hollywood memorabilia, including the Batmobile from the 1997 film “Batman & Robin” and the couch from “Friends.” 

During a brief program, IBEW leadership heralded Local 40’s longevity and success over the past 100 years. 

“Reflecting on our Union’s rich history, we are reminded of the countless individuals who paved the way for us,” said IBEW Local 40 Business Manager Stephan Davis. “The novel beginnings of our Union, where a handful of determined individuals dared to dream of a better future to the present where our union stands stronger than ever, our journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. “ 

In addition to Davis, speakers included IBEW International President Kenneth Cooper, International Secretary-Treasurer Paul Noble, former IBEW Local 40 Business Manager and Ninth District International Representative. Tim Dixon, IBEW Ninth District International Vice President David Reaves, NECA Executive Director Eric Cartier and State Senator Anthony Portantino. 

“On behalf of all the officers, staff and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, I want to give you my heartfelt congratulations,” Cooper said, emphasizing the union’s role in building Hollywood. “What you’ve done for the last century here in Hollywood is truly amazing. “ 

Noble referenced the current contract negotiations Local 40 is participating in with the studios. 

“Hollywood is making big profits and workers deserve a piece of that success,” Noble said. “In 2023 we had a hot labor summer, but I expect 2024 to exceed that because our movement is going to grow bigger and stronger than ever and the IBEW is leading the way.” 

“For the last century, Local 40 has provided the leadership that has made this industry a stronghold of organized labor.” 

Dixon is celebrating 40 years with the union. The former Local 40 Business Manager spoke of the union’s history, which started with 12 members in 1924 agreeing to work for no less than $7.50 per 10-hour day. 

“While it’s almost impossible for us to comprehend what those founding 12 members went through to form this union, I don’t think there’s any way that they could imagine that Local 40 would survive 100 years ago, let alone what we’ve achieved in in that time.” 

Portantino presented Local 40 President Jesse Barron with a State Senate resolution. 

A touching moment came earlier in the evening when Sam Shanman received his 70-year pin.  

His son Michael, a 39-year member of IATSE Local 728 Studio Electrical Lighting Technicians, was in the audience. “I break the lights, he fixes them,” the younger Shanman laughed. 

The centennial celebration was scheduled for last summer, but with the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild striking over a fair contract from the studios, Local 40 chose to delay the fun in a show of union solidarity. 

“Let’s commit ourselves to building a future that is worthy of the sacrifices made by those who came before us, to fight for a world where every worker is treated with dignity and respect, and where every voice is heard and every dream is within reach,” Davis said. 

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