The Machinists Union commemorated Workers’ Memorial Day with a private ceremony at the William W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Center in Hollywood, Maryland, recognizing members who lost their lives in the workplace. The past year has been especially difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Names of fallen members were read and a bell was rung after each name, including those of retired members who have passed away.
“It is incredible that in the 21st century, workers are still subject to workplace danger and families are torn by grief when loved ones don’t come home from work,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez.
Speakers at the ceremony included IAM Safety & Health Department Director Michael Oathout, General Vice President Brian Bryant and General Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes.
“In shops across this country, IAM members continue to be put at risk from dangerous work environments, including inadequate protective equipment to protect from workplace dangers,” said Bryant. “We owe it to the ones we memorialize here today to make sure we fight like hell to protect the lives of future workers and demand safe shop floors and workplaces.”
Catch of the Day DC Church Senior Pastor Cornel Dunmore, who is retired from the IAM, did the convocation and closing prayer. The ceremony took place at the Lighthouse Monument in the Workers’ Memorial Park. An audience was not present due to physical distancing requirements.
President Biden also mentioned jobs more than 40 times during his address, touting not only the addition of 1.3 million jobs during his administration but the need to pass The American Jobs Plan. Biden called the jobs plan a blue-collar blueprint to build America. The plan calls for significant investments in traditional and infrastructure and green energy.
The President called on Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act(PRO Act).
I want to thank each and every member who voted on April 24 or by absentee ballot in the IAM’s Grand Lodge Officer Election for General Secretary-Treasurer. Members from across North America have exercised their right to have a say in the future of our great union.
As announced in February, due to the pandemic and mail delays, the IAM extended the deadline to receive absentee ballots until April 29. The IAM also expanded access to absentee voting to anyone who had concerns about voting in person due to COVID-19. It was the right thing to do to encourage participation in our union’s democracy.
The IAM Constitution provides that the official tally begins on May 1. I ask for your patience over the next few weeks as we follow our constitutional process and protect our great tradition of true union democracy.
Thank you, Sisters and Brothers, for participating in this election. We will share the results once a winner is declared.
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act or H.B. 842 that passed the House in early March, has gained momentum in the Senate after IAM Members along with working families across the U.S. flooded Senate offices with calls 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 PRO Act will:
Create pathways for workers to form unions without fear of 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
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.
180 IAM members from District Lodge 75, Local Lodge 20 at Eglin Air Force Base recently ratified a three-year Aerospace Service contract. The members provide back shop maintenance services on government aircraft including modifications, support tasks and other functions in support of the 96th Test Wing. They also work on F-15 and F-16 fighter jets and maintain support equipment and crash recovery services.
The contract provides many improvements including wage and pension increases and enhancements to Flexible Benefit Credits used to purchase health insurance and other benefits, paid time off for senior employees, premiums for employees who work around Hydrazine and Ordnance and premiums for employees who have to sign off on in-progress inspections and red x’s (critical maintenance tasks).
“Due to the committee’s preparedness and the assistance of ADBR Brad Smith, who jumped right in after negotiations had to switch from in-person to online, we were able to secure a great agreement for the membership,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Tony Wirth.”
“The transition from in-person to virtual was seamless, due in part to the committee’s understanding of the needs of their fellow members in securing a good contract,” said Assistant Directing Business Representative Brad Smith. “It was a pleasure being able to work with this committee and present to their members a contract which they all can be proud of for the next three years.”
Negotiations began in person, but were abruptly switched to video conferencing after one member of the negotiating committee contracted the COVID-19 virus. All COVID protocols were strictly followed and no one else contracted the virus during the remainder of negotiations.