Brother Flemming was appointed First District International Vice President in 2003 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Donald Lounds. He was elected to that post at the 37th International Convention in 2006, and at the Vancouver convention in 2011.
“He was a great guy to work with,” says retired First District International Representative Jerry Wilson. “He was so honest, that if he said it, everyone knew then that was the way it was going to be.”
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Flemming was initiated into Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Local 1432 in 1967.
He worked as an inside wireman for eight years before being elected business manager/financial secretary in 1975. Brother Flemming was also active in island’s labor movement, serving as president of the P.E.I. Federation of Labour.
In 1981, he was appointed International Representative in the First District by then-International President Charles H. Pillard. He helped service locals in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 1992, he transferred to Ontario, where he serviced members in construction and manufacturing. One his proudest achievements was helping to organize a 600-person plant in Toronto.
In 1999, he transferred to the First District office, serving as Vice President Lounds’ executive assistant.
Succeeding Lounds in 2003, Flemming help lead the First District though some of Canada’s biggest economic and political changes in decades.
He presided over an aggressive membership development effort, which grew the IBEW’s First District membership even through the worst of the 2008 recession. The First District also beefed up its political action program, building a grassroots network across Canada.
One of his greatest accomplishments, says Wilson, was helping to start the First District’s NextGen initiative to reach out to younger members. “It was an uphill battle, but now has taken legs,” he says.
He also worked closely with contractors and others to boost skilled construction training to meet the demands of Canada’s energy boom and anticipated manpower shortage, helping to found the National Electrical Trade Council.
Nominating Flemming during the 2011 International Convention, Fredericton, New Brunswick Local 37 Business Manager Ross Galbraith said:
The First District has elected a leader with a passion for our union, a champion for working men and women, a man who has dedicated his life to the labor movement. His record shows a clear path, carefully considered decisions and willingness to tackle the tough issues.
Flemming was a member of the Canadian Executive Board of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and the Canadian Labour Congress’ executive committee.
Says International President Edwin D. Hill:
Brother Flemming was a powerful voice for working families whose presence and service to the IBEW was felt across borders. The lives of every brother and sister are better because of his efforts. Phil will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife Loretta, two sons, two stepdaughters, and two grandchildren. The IBEW extends its most heartfelt sympathies to Brother Flemming’s family and friends.