Today is the labor movement’s National Day of Action for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. It’s a day for labor and its allies to let the U.S. Senate know that it’s time to support the hardworking men and women of this country by supporting the PRO Act.
The PRO Act puts workers first and strengthens the rights of workers to join and participate in a labor union. The bill (H.B. 842) passed the House in early March and is expected to be before the U.S. Senate soon.
The Machinist Union has compiled a list of ways you can help pass the PRO Act:
The PRO Act is the most comprehensive piece of labor legislation introduced since the Great Depression. At its core, it protects the rights of people who want to be part of a labor union and repeals laws that hurt workers.
The PRO Act will:
Create pathways for workers to form unions, without fear or retribution
Repeal anti-worker “right-to-work” laws across the country
Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board
Empower workers to exercise the freedom to organize and bargain
Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after recognition
members and workers across the U.S. are calling on their Senators to stand up for working families and support the #PROAct
We have a chance to make generational change for workers. Let’s get it done.
Greg Kinne, longtime Local Lodge 737 member, hasn’t let retirement stop him from passing along the knowledge he attained from almost 50 years in the automotive industry. Brother Kinne has volunteered to teach the basics of auto detailing and maintenance to a new generation eager to forge their career paths at the Twin Cities School in Columbia Heights, MN.
The goal of the free, 12-week course is to give students enough training to land an entry-level job. The class, which is housed in founder Jerry L. Griffis’ detailing shop, also provides opportunities for paid work in the shop upon completion.
“They’re going to know enough about detailing that a shop could take them on and not have to explain everything to them,” Kinne said. “They’re still going to have to learn some things. But I worked 50 years, and I was still learning things when I was done.”
The Twin Cities School emphasizes so-called “soft skills” necessary for success on the job, and Griffis and Kinne have tapped into their connections in the local auto industry to help find interested students work. Those connections include Local Lodge 737 and union dealerships.
“Union shops, that’s what I push,” Kinne said. “Jerry was a manager – one of the few African American managers in our area, but he worked in a union shop. And I know he’s sat down with Local 737 and talked about the school with them, and they’ve been supportive.”
Kinne’s career in the automotive industry began in 1972 when he became a member of IAM Local Lodge 737 and went to work behind the parts counter at Royal Datsun, a union shop in St. Paul where his father was the parts manager.
“Greg has always been active in the Local,” said IAM District 77 Directing Business Representative John Steigauf, “and when he approached the Local with this training vision the E-Board was all on board. Greg is a great example of how retired members can give back to the trade by sharing their skills and life experiences with younger people interested in the trade. We are very proud of Greg and his work!”
“Brother Kinne personifies what the Machinists Union stands for,” said IAM Midwest General Vice President Steve Galloway. “He was eager to help and teach others during his long and distinguished career and has continued in retirement. His work expertise along with life experiences will provide his students with the necessary tools to begin their careers.”
Local Lodge 737 represents over 900 mechanics, parts personnel, body workers and service technicians at dealerships in the east metro.
The Puerto Rico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO is losing a tireless leader, as José “Lole” Rodríguez-Báez retires after 23 years as its President. Rodríguez-Báez is a Business Representative for IAM Local 2725, a position he has held since 2006.
Rodríguez-Báez has been an outstanding union leader for the federation, which is the largest trade union organization in Puerto Rico. He has 40 years of experience in the labor movement. Rodríguez-Báez joined in 1982 as a union organizer in the National Union of Health Workers Local 1199, affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In 1993, he was elected president after five years as Secretary. He was elected to the SEIU International Executive Board from 1996 to 2001.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and more recently after the earthquakes that devastated southern Puerto Rico, Rodríguez-Báez led the way helping to coordinate local and national efforts to provide temporary shelter and other assistance for working families.
Rodríguez-Báez is recognized within the Puerto Rican labor movement as a tireless defender of working people, and has participated in multiple seminars, conferences and workshops on labor, economic and social issues for the benefit of the working class of Puerto Rico.
“Lole has been a voice for Puerto Rican working families for decades and we are proud to call him a Fighting Machinist,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “His efforts following the natural disasters in the past few years, and the impact they had on the people of Puerto Rico, are a small example of his dedication to helping others.”
“Brother Lole has always led by example and answered every call to serve his union and working families,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “He is a true unionist and leaves a lasting legacy as the President of the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor.”
La Federación Laboral de Puerto Rico, AFL-CIO está perdiendo un líder incansable, ya que José “Lole” Rodríguez-Báez se jubila después de 23 años como su Presidente. Rodríguez-Báez es Representante de la IAM Local 2725, cargo que ocupa desde 2006.
Rodríguez-Báez ha sido un dominante líder sindical de la federación, que es la organización sindical más grande de Puerto Rico. Tiene 40 años de experiencia en el movimiento laboral. Rodríguez-Báez ingresó en 1982 como sindicalista en la Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Salud Local 1199, afiliado a la Unión Internacional de Empleados de Servicios (SEIU). En 1993, fue elegido presidente después de cinco años como secretario. Fue elegido a la Junta Ejecutiva Internacional de SEIU del 1996 al 2001.
En las secuelas del huracán María en 2017 y más recientemente después de los terremotos que devastaron el sur de Puerto Rico, Rodríguez-Báez abrió el camino ayudando a coordinar los esfuerzos locales y nacionales para proporcionar refugio temporal y otra asistencia a las familias trabajadoras.
Rodríguez-Báez es reconocido dentro del movimiento laboral puertorriqueño como un incansable defensor del pueblo trabajador, y ha participado en múltiples seminarios, conferencias y talleres sobre temas laborales, económicos y sociales en beneficio de la clase trabajadora de Puerto Rico.
“Lole ha sido una voz para las familias trabajadoras puertorriqueñas durante décadas y estamos orgullosos de llamarlo un maquinista en la lucha,” dijo el presidente internacional de la IAM Robert Martinez Jr. “Sus esfuerzos tras los desastres naturales en los últimos años y el impacto que tuvieron en la gente de Puerto Rico son un pequeño ejemplo de su dedicación a ayudar a los demás.”
“El hermano Lole siempre ha dirigido con el ejemplo y ha respondido a cada llamado para servir a su Unión y a las familias trabajadoras,” dijo el vicepresidente general del Territorio Sur de la IAM, Rickey Wallace. “Es un verdadero sindicalista y deja un legado duradero como Presidente de la Federación Laboral de Puerto Rico.”
Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings has died at the age of 84 due to complications from cancer, his office confirmed this week. The South Florida congressman, who represented parts of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, had been serving his 15th term and was an ally of the Machinists Union.
Throughout his tenure in Washington, Hastings was one of the most vocal supporters of IAM members employed in the South Florida sugar industry. He was also one of 293 House members to beat back a Republican-led bid in 2017 to cut government funding for Amtrak.
In 2012, Hastings stood with Machinists as they battled Republican-led voter suppression efforts across the country, including Florida.
“These restricted measures will inevitably make it hard for minorities, the elderly, and young people to vote,” said Hastings. “Never before have these voter suppression efforts been so blatant, widespread, and systematic. Republicans are attacking one of the most fundamental rights of our democracy: the right to vote. We cannot sit idly by and allow our voices to be silenced.”
Until recently, Hastings was the longest-serving member of Congress from Florida, receiving a 100% legislative score from the AFL-CIO in 2019.
Nearly eight months after a 10-week strike of 4,300 IAM Local S6 members at Bath Iron Works, Local leaders and members are charting a brighter future for the Bath, ME shipyard. More recently, 205 members at IAM Local S7, which represents BIW clerical and administrative workers, ratified a three-year contract that includes a significant pay raise and improved benefits.
At Local S6, whose members proudly build destroyers for the U.S. Navy, a joint schedule recovery committee between the union and company management, which was implemented by the new collective bargaining agreement, has made significant strides for members.
Grievance and arbitration backlogs have significantly decreased. The joint committee is also formally reviewing all mechanics at the shipyard to ensure they are properly compensated for their skillset, resulting in pay raises for many members.
“Our members at Local S6 and S7 continue to make our union and the entire labor movement extremely proud,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr., who recently visited the locals with IAM General Vice President Brian Bryant, a former Local S6 president and BIW pipefitter. “They have shown the world what solidarity looks like and take so much pride in their mission for our men and women in uniform. I’m so grateful for the leadership of Locals S6 and S7, District 4, the Eastern Territory and the many departments at the IAM Grand Lodge for what has been accomplished before, during and after this historic strike.”
Martinez and Bryant also met Local S6 member Garrett Bailey, who was critically injured in a January 2021 on-the-job incident at the shipyard. IAM members and supporters from around the nation have raised more than $60,000 for Bailey’s recovery.
Local S6 is also helping to implement incentives to rehire employees and attend job fairs to attract new members to the shipyard. The Local has also increased training opportunities for stewards, made technological advancements in communications and is in the process of remodeling the interior and exterior of its lodge.
“As a proud member of Local S6, it is tremendous to see what solidarity has accomplished for our membership, the community and the entire state of Maine,” said IAM General Vice President Brian Bryant. “In the midst of a pandemic, our members banded together to fight for good Maine jobs. Generations of Mainers will remember that moment and the successful fight we won.”
As a part of its new contract, Local S7 members will get a 3 percent pay raise each year for the next three years, an increase in accident and sickness benefits and other improvements. Local S7 negotiators credited the gains to the accomplishments of Local S6 members during their 2020 strike, which resulted in resolving issues around subcontracting, work rules and seniority.
“I salute the members of Local S6 and S7 for their strength and solidarity,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. “Our union never backs down from fighting for what’s right, and they are now seeing the benefits of their solidarity. I’m so grateful for the Local and District leadership, as well as our staff in the Eastern Territory for everything they’ve done for our membership.”
The approved contract includes strong job protections against expanded subcontracting and preserves seniority rights, the two top issues that forced members to reject the company’s previous offer and begin the nation’s largest strike on June 22.
IAM Local S6 members received significant support
from elected officials and the community for the duration of the strike, especially from U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, State Senate President Troy Jackson and President Joe Biden. Federal mediators helped both sides reach a tentative agreement and continue to assist with the joint schedule recovery committee.
On Thursday, April 8, members of the Machinists Union, labor leaders and workers are encouraged to participate in a national day of action to urge U.S. senators to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
The PRO Act has already passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support.
Empower workers to exercise the freedom to organize and bargain.
Repeal “right to work” laws.
Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized.
End employers’ practice of punishing striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. Speaking up for labor rights is within every worker’s rights—and workers shouldn’t lose our jobs for it.
Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining.
Create pathways for workers to form unions, without fear, in newer industries like Big Tech.
Thursday’s political push comes with the PRO Act’s endorsement by the White House. Many are calling the PRO Act the most significant piece of pro-union legislation since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. In a recent video, President Biden called the vote to join a union: “a vitally important choice – one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers. Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union.”
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a former labor leader in Boston and longtime friend of the IAM, calls legislation like the PRO Act, “one more step that will help people to organize freely. I do believe in the right to organize. I do believe in the right for people to join a union if they chose to. I certainly support that.”
President Biden unveiled his highly-anticipated American Jobs Plan yesterday, which the IAM believes will create union jobs with good pay and benefits. IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. released the following statement after President Biden introduced the infrastructure bill:
“This moment is exactly why thousands of Machinists Union members went to the polls to support the Biden-Harris ticket and their policy of ‘Build Back Better,’” said Martinez. “The infrastructure package introduced today will impact generations of America’s working families by creating good union jobs that offer decent wages and benefits. The hope this administration brings to America’s workforce stands in stark contrast to where we were a year ago when thousands of our members’ lives were turned upside down due to the pandemic and devastating layoffs. The program introduced today is yet another welcome initiative by the Biden administration that will build back better our vital manufacturing and transportation sectors.”
As one of the largest industrial and transportation unions in North America, we applaud @POTUS
for the worker-first #AmericanJobsPlan
“During our meeting earlier this year, I congratulated President Biden and Vice President Harris on the initiatives that have already been undertaken, including the Executive Order to strengthen Buy American laws that called for strong domestic sourcing requirements and for infrastructure programs that include materials and manufactured goods, including equipment and other items throughout the supply chain, as well as curtailing broad loopholes that bypassed domestic content requirements,” said Martinez.
“The new infrastructure programs expand these initiatives by creating incentives for renovating manufacturing facilities, especially with green technology developed and manufactured here at home. The Machinists Union also welcomes additional initiatives in the newly announced program to support U.S. manufacturing and transportation jobs.
“This infrastructure package also moves us in the direction of ending corporate tax incentives that move our work offshore and creates incentives to bring our supply chains home. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration and other members of Congress to build back better America’s workforce across all sectors, especially in the hard-hit manufacturing and transportation sectors.”
Throughout its history, the IAM has always acknowledged and respected the role of women in the labor movement, even when it was not popular opinion to do so.
In fact, in 1911, nearly eight years before women were granted the right to vote by the 19th Amendment, the Machinists Union had already opened its doors to women with equal rights, setting the bar for others to follow.
In this tradition, the Machinists Union is rolling out its newest venture, called the “LEADS” program, which stands for “Leadership Excellence Assembly of Dedicated Sisters.” The LEADS Program is a mentoring program designed to continue the advancement of IAM women by offering new pathways to leadership for the sisters of our union family.
“The IAM always leads by example. We have increased participation of women at the local and district levels and many of our Grand Lodge departments are headed by women, but we can always do more,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “When the women of the IAM succeed, so too does this union and the labor movement as a whole. That’s why we created the LEADS program, to ensure that the IAM continues to set the bar when it comes to creating the next generation of women union leaders.”
Right now, nearly 20 percent of the IAM membership are women, but that percentage is not reflected in the ranks of Business Representatives and General Chairs. The Machinists want to change that, providing more avenues for women to achieve leadership roles in the union. This mentoring program will provide IAM sisters with the tools and training needed for leadership positions.
Soon, the Machinists Union will create an assembly consisting of at least four women from each district. This group will participate in monthly education and career programs offered by the IAM’s Women’s Department and the William W. Wipinsinger Education and Technology Center, learning the nuances of the various leaderships positions in the union.
Everything from local lodge governance to grievance handling to collecting bargaining and negotiations will be covered in order to fully train the next generation of women leaders in the Machinists Union. They will also receive on-the-job training by shadowing a mentor in the field, participating in shop floor visits, meeting with employees and attending meetings and negotiations.
The LEADS program will offer access and opportunity for the women of the Machinists Union, making sure our union leadership mirrors that of our membership, and setting the IAM on a trajectory for future success and growth.