• The Little Engine That Did

    It was 1967 and the world looked very different than today. The Vietnam War was raging. O.J. Simpson was having a stellar year as a running back at USC. Elvis Presley married Priscilla in Las Vegas. The world’s first human heart transplant was performed.

    And in our own backyard, IAM Local Lodge 2297 in North Carolina was chartered, never realizing that it too would make the history books. That’s what brought IAM’s Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin to this part of the country to help mark this momentous occasion.

    “It was an honor to be a part of celebrating this milestone in Local Lodge 2297’s history. And we did that in a very Machinist way,” said Blondin. “During the day, I met members on the shop floor at Spirit AeroSystems in Kinston to find out what’s working and what’s not. The evening gave me some one-on-one opportunities with Machinists from all walks of life to listen and learn about working issues in North Carolina. I’m very impressed that in a Right to Work state, 2297 continues to out-organize other larger locals and has been very successful in bringing in federal sector workers to the IAM. Today is what I call the perfect Machinists Memorial to a Lodge that deserves the credit.”

    And the celebration continued the next day when the local lodge helped to raise thousands for the Guide Dogs of America in a charity golf tournament. But that’s all public knowledge. What many don’t know is that Local Lodge 2297 has a secret. With only about 400 members, it has literally changed the course of history for federal workers, without much fanfare.

    “You could not have asked any local to do any better than what they have done in their 50-year history. Not only in the defense of our members but in defense of our Nation. They have managed to not only maintain their numbers but grow through internal organized. But it’s the behind the scenes work they’ve done, that not many know about, which really makes me proud,” said Joe Greaser, Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative and honored to call Local 2297 home.

    Like The Little Engine That Could, this local used its power to help stop outsourcing of federal contracts, preserving the livelihoods of our Members when it came to these government agreements. It’s a fight that continues today and still stands on the foundation of the words lobbied at Congress by Local 2297 just a few years ago. As a member, steward, officer and now Directing Business Representative, Machinist Anthony Cruz has been a proud servant of this lodge for nearly 25 years. This is where his heart lives.

    “We argued then, as we will in the future, that the majority of our Members have worn the uniform of the U.S. Military, and that as Federal Employees, our commitment to ‘Supporting the Warfighter’ is personal,” explains Cruz. “Many of us have children and grandchildren who now wear the uniform. We take equal pride in being Union and being Patriots. In our Lodge, both are inseparable. Our strength lies in the fact that the IAM will always find a way to way to meet the mission. And for that reason, and many more, our Union Patriots should be performing the work of our government contracts.”

    Cruz beams when talking about these men and women and the job they’ve done, not just for North Carolina, but for workers everywhere. Even if most people aren’t aware that Local Lodge 2297 has its back. 

    “Union, Country and Corps is a motto we have lived by for 50 years. As a new Generation of Local Lodge 2297 union members and former U.S. Military members take positions of leadership in our great union, we want them to know the legacy that has been forged over this half century. “Greater love hath no man but this.” said Cruz passionately.

    So Congratulations to 50 years Machinist Local Lodge 2297.  You are the best example of what it means to be IAM!

    #ThisIsWhyIAMUnion, #iamsouthernvoice

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  • IAM Awarded Nearly 400K

    The IAM has been awarded three Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) grants totaling nearly $400,000.  

    FMCS grants are available to labor-management partnerships aimed at defining and confronting workplace problems and developing long-term solutions. The three grants were awarded to IAM District 190, IAM District 15, and IAM Local 701.  

    IAM District 190’s grant ($119,718) will help women, returning veterans, high school students, at-risk disconnected youth, and formerly incarcerated individuals. The grant dollars will be used to help grow IAM District 190’s Automotive and Machinist Apprenticeship Training Program.  

    IAM District 15’s grant ($111,541) will train women, returning veterans, and at-risk disconnected youth participate in the Tractor Trailer Driver Training gaining jobs with New England Motor Freight. This will help our partnership with New England Motor Freight.  

    IAM Local 701’s grant ($135,871) will provide OSHA safety training to new apprentices, increase apprenticeship numbers and develop a pre-apprenticeship program for high school students. This grant will support the state-of-the-art automotive apprenticeship training program at Local 701. 

    “These grants help IAM Districts and Locals address the shortage of skilled workers in different sectors where the IAM represents working people,” said IAM Director of Apprenticeships Jim Reid. “These grants make it possible for the IAM to provide comprehensive training programs and grow our membership through these joint labor-management partnerships.”

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  • Fix NAFTA

    IAM recently joined other organizations in delivering more than 350,000 petitions demanding that NAFTA’s expansive corporate rights and protections and Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) be eliminated during renegotiations. ISDS allows corporations to sue countries for alleged discriminatory practices, with outcomes determined by panels of private corporate attorneys who help advance the interests of corporations.

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  • DL 141 Delivers Record-Breaking Donation to the IAM Disaster Relief Fund

    On the opening day of District Lodge 141 Chairman’s Conference, District Lodge 141 President Mike Klemm presented Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja a check for $250,000 to the IAM Disaster Relief Fund, the largest donation in the history of the program.

    The DL 141 Executive Board made and approved this motion in response to Transportation GVP Pantoja’s letter to all Transportation Locals urging them for donations to help our members.

    “I’m overwhelmed and at a loss for words by the donation from Dl 141,” GVP Pantoja. “I thank the members and officers of DL 141 for their unprecedented donation.”

    IAM International President Robert Martinez also hailed the donation at the DL 141 Chairpersons Conference.

    “We’ve witnessed over the past few months how the Fighting Machinists are always there for one another, and we just saw an example of this when our membership and this District made the largest contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund in its history,” said IP Martinez.

    This historic contribution is just the latest from Transportation Department Lodges to the Disaster Relief Fund. Recently, LL 1725 donated $10,000 and National Group Protection, a firm that provides customized insurance programs for thousands of Transportation Department members, donated $5,000.

    To date, IAM Transportation Lodges have donated more than $360,000 to the disaster relief fund. 

    Click here to donate and aid our IAM sisters and brothers in need.

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  • Ready, set, hike!  It’s time to score big for Guide Dogs of America!  

    Guide Dogs of America’s 37th Annual William W. Winpisinger Charity Banquet is November 18th and the deadline to score your tickets at the reduced rate is October 31st

     So huddle up all you playmakers, get your tickets now, and let’s score big for GDA together!   


    And don’t forget to wear your football jersey to the banquet! 

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  • IAM Opposes China’s Unfair Trade Practices

    IAM Chief of Staff and Director of Trade and Globalization, Owen Herrnstadt, testified before the U.S. government regarding China’s unfair trade practices in the aerospace industry.  Citing numerous transfers of production to China, including the building of Boeing’s 737 finishing facility in China, Herrnstadt noted “China’s continuing development of its own aerospace industry and the IAM’s persistent criticism of North American aerospace companies who appear to be all too willing to transfer work and technology to China.”

    IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr., issued the following statement earlier this  year  before President Trump’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping:

    “We continue to lose good manufacturing jobs because China breaks the rules. Production in China is cheap, in part, because its workers lack basic human rights—forced labor is rampant and the freedom to join a free and legitimate trade union doesn’t exist. China violates world trade standards by manipulating its currency and by demanding the forced transfer of our jobs and taxpayer-funded technology in return for market access. Our politicians have been too quiet for too long, and working people have had enough lip service.”

    The International Associations of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing nearly 600,000 active and retired members in aerospace, transportation, manufacturing, shipbuilding, woodworking and other industries. Visit goIAM.org for more information.

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  • Wichita Machinists Vote Yes for the Future

    “This is what belonging to the IAM looks like. A strong Union contract that not only takes care of the workers on the shop floor right now, but also sets a trajectory for the future of Aerospace in Wichita,” said IAMAW’s Southern Territory Mark A. Blondin. “That’s a headline worth reading!”

    ‘One Voice, One Contract’ was the mantra heard among members from Local Lodge 639 during the weeks of negotiations that culminated in a contract between the IAMAW and Bombardier Learjet in Wichita, KS. The final agreement.

    covers 455 Machinists Members and was passed by 92% of those who voted, going into effect at 12:01 a.m. on October 9, 2017.

    “The words ‘One Voice, One Contract’ was more than just a slogan on the shop floor. This encompassed what the Membership stood for and how they were willing to fight for a fair deal. The committee took those words to heart and delivered,” said Grand Lodge Representative Mark Love. “They saved pensions, saved health care and added future work – the committee did it all.”

    The end result is what workers and their families in the ‘Air Capital of the World’ deserve. The agreement includes increased wages of 6.5% over the life of the contract, pension increases of nearly $3 per month, per year of service for both current and future employees and improvements to supplemental insurance policies for spouses and children. 

    New line items include the creation of a voluntary separation program for members age 55 or older with 25 years of service and a one-time ratification bonus of $1000 for employees. But it’s the focus on the future and the next generation of workers who will keep Wichita flying, that sets the Machinists Union above the bar when it comes to providing for its members.

    Blondin explains how this contract is going to change the lives of future IAM Members. “This is just the beginning for the resurgence of Aerospace, not only in Wichita, but around the globe. The committee was able to partner with Bombardier Learjet and guarantee future work at this facility, giving the next generation job security that’s rarely seen these days. The agreement offers a blueprint for the next wave of Fighting Machinists and their families to live the American Dream. This is why we pay dues and stand in solidarity during the good and bad times – to take care of those who will come after us and make sure this country has a strong foundation that is proud, resilient and Machinist made.”

    Because when it comes to Aerospace, it’s the Machinists in Wichita that will continue to set the bar.

    #ThisIsWhyIAMUnion, #iamsouthernvoice

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  • Walking Strong

    Houston IAM Local 2198 trustee and senior shop steward Maria Caban credits the generosity of her union brothers and sisters with helping get her through the past year’s challenges.

    Last summer faced a challenge that would have stopped most people in their tracks. Thanks to her husband, her determination and her union family, she was able to get back on her feet, one being prosthetic.

    Caban has worked for Continental Airlines, now United, for more than 27 years in the customer service department. When the two airlines merged and she became an IAM member, Caban immediately embraced her union and the opportunity to speak for workers who needed a voice. 

    As a child, she would act as an interpreter for her mother and other Spanish-speaking workers who were being taken advantage of.

    “I would go translate for her and say ‘look, you didn’t give her overtime, she has seniority, she’s missing this,” said Caban. “I was her voice and then I just grew up with that fight in me and trying to help people when they couldn’t defend themselves or speak up.”

    Joining the IAM gave her a new opportunity and a new family. She became active and has been ever since. Caban shares her passion for working people with her husband Ivan, a shop steward and trustee of Houston IAM Local 811. Their union membership, and the medical benefits of her negotiated contract, would prove vital several years later while on vacation in Puerto Rico in July 2016.

    Early on the last morning of their stay, Caban became seriously ill with headaches, vomiting and she lost feeling on the left side of her body from the waist down. Her leg had inexplicably lost oxygen and developed dangerous blood clots. The doctors in Puerto Rico did all they could, but told her she needed to have her left leg amputated just below the knee.

    “I was in the hospital for five weeks there,” said Caban. “I came back home and my doctors did tests here and they could not determine what caused it. As a result of that, I have to take blood thinners for the rest of my life. But it’s okay because I’m still here today and I’m excited.”

    While still in the hospital, Caban’s will to walk again got her out of bed and into physical therapy almost immediately. She credits the medical insurance her contract guaranteed for giving her access to the necessary treatment in Puerto Rico and back home in Houston.  Her IAM family then gave her something she could never have expected.

    “The IAM was wonderful to me. They were so supportive and always checking on me,” said Caban. “All the employees and friends did fundraisers for me. At the Grand Lodge Convention in Chicago they got up and spoke about my situation.”

    On the convention floor, the IAM Executive Council contributed to the fundraising efforts of her local and district, to achieve an amount that allowed the Cabans to make their bathroom handicap accessible.

    “I was so blessed and touched by that,” said Caban. “It’s beyond words.”

    When her prosthetic leg was being fabricated, Caban was told she could customize the look of it. It took no time for her to decide. She used the design of her Machinists Women’s t-shirt, and now she walking strong and shows her IAM pride with each step she takes.

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  • IAM Legislative Director Hasan Solomon Receives Spirit of Democracy Award

    Public Policy by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The awards celebration, now in its 20th year, honors individuals who pay it forward by dedicating their lives and careers to economic empowerment, civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, voting rights and social justice for all. 

    Solomon is recognized, by his peers, as one of the top trade union lobbyists on Capitol Hill, for his efforts advocating for IAM members’ rights to organize, negotiate contracts and other workplace freedoms. 

    After the award presentation, Solomon took part in a panel discussion related to the 20th anniversary theme of Diversity of our Democracy and pushed the importance of grassroots organizing.

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  • The Small Parts

    Local 2396 Negotiating Committee (left to right) Dale Knight,       Jeff Nichols, Lynn Yonts and Kevin Bruce

    You can’t build a car, most kitchen appliances or even a computer without a fastener. So here’s to the 120 workers of IAM Local Lodge 2396 at Stanley Engineered Fasteners in Hopkinsville, KY who just ratified an agreement that will keep these workers living the American Dream for another three years.

    “I am very proud of how this committee conducted itself during Negotiations. They came in prepared with very distinct proposals as to what the membership wanted, in a very professional manner,” said District 154 Directing Business Representative of Howard “Bubba” Dawes.

    IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin, who started his career on the shop floor, knows how important these rivets can be. 

    “Bottom line, you can’t build a lot of products without the work of Union Members like the ones in Hopkinsville, KY. That’s what many in this country don’t understand. It literally takes thousands of workers, in communities across the U.S.A., to fill the part orders needed to complete something like a car or a washing machine…the items that Americans use each and every day. Multi-million dollar companies couldn’t function without the work of places like Stanley Engineered Fasteners,” explains Blondin. “That’s why it’s great to see these men and women negotiate a contract that puts health and welfare issues, like pensions, at top of the priority list.”

    For at least two decades, this group has been privy to an IAM contract, and pension usually makes the top three of the priority list. And according to Dawes, that was still the case this time around. He considers what they negotiated to be one of the best items in this contract.

    “We were able to get yearly pension increases for the life of the contract. And that translates into significant money for the retirees in this group. Beginning the third year of this contract, the IAM pension will be worth $85.46 for future years of service, with an additional $30.00 for the defined pension, for a total of $115.46 for future years,” said Dawes. “That’s the difference between working until you are 70 or actually retiring.”

    But it wasn’t just pensions that saw increases. Over the three-year contract, wages will rise, on average, about 2.75% yearly. And they were able to keep health care costs stable, which is something the Machinist Union knows will come up the next time around because it’s happening at bargaining tables around the country.

    “That’s our biggest hurdle for the future, health care. And we are not blind to what the companies are up against,” said Blondin. “But at the end of the day, the companies, and their profits, would not exist without the workers. That’s why we are taking on this massive issue of health care by partnering with companies to come up with solutions that work for everyone. I believe that’s the only way it will be a ‘win’ for all at the bargaining table. And the best way to take care of the IAM Members who work tirelessly to make American products desired by people around the globe.”

    #iamsouthernvoice, #ThisIsWhyIAMUnion

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