This Memorial Day weekend, we remember military service members who have fought and died for our freedom. They were willing to put their lives on the line, at home and abroad, to defend us against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. These heroes died protecting the many freedoms we enjoy today from the comfort of our own homes.
This year’s holiday seems very significant, as our country is wrapping up the mission in Afghanistan and bringing our troops home.
Since the horrible terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, nearly 1 million U.S. service members have deployed to Afghanistan to take the fight to the enemy, with more than 2,300 of them paying the ultimate price. Americans have been kept safe from Al Qaeda terrorists because of their service, and ultimately their sacrifice.
We also owe a great debt of gratitude to our Sisters and Brothers in Canada who have given their lives protecting the values we share.
As we spend this weekend remembering those who lost their lives for our country, I ask all of you to think about how we can honor them through our own actions. Focus on what we can do as individuals, and collectively, to make their families even more proud of the freedoms they gave their lives for.
New Machinists Union members employed by Cascades Containerboard in Niagara Falls, NY, recently rallied to call for a first contract. The 115 workers voted to join the IAM more than two years ago, and the National Labor Relations Board certified that election in June 2019.
Workers were joined at the rally by IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. and IAM Headquarters General Vice President Brian Bryant. Nearly a dozen other unions showed their support. U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY), Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO President Peter DeJesus and other labor officials spoke and pledged support to the workers.
Higgins wrote a letter to Cascades Containerboard President and Chief Operating Officer Charles Malo, strongly encouraging the company to engage with the IAM at the bargaining table.
Working conditions at the facility were key issues for the employees. Cascades hired notorious union-busters Jackson-Lewis to thwart the campaign, only to hire another firm, the so-called Labor Relations Institute, after the campaign to stall negotiations.
“These negotiations are stagnant, and it’s time for Cascades to seriously address them by returning to the table to negotiate,” said District 65 Directing Business Representative Ron Warner. “These workers deserve a fair contract now.”
Workers at Cascades have been standing together in their fight for a first contract, despite draconian efforts to divide the group. Workers have withstood a very aggressive anti-union campaign put on by the company that included permanent sub-contracting of their work, resulting in layoffs and drastically reducing the annual bonus by 20 percent.
“I understand they fired Jackson-Lewis,” said Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro, Sr. “I thought they were the worst SOBs around, this company found somebody even worse! We’re not going to stand for it, this Executive Council is committed to fight side by side with our Brothers and Sisters at Cascades.”
“This failure to get a first contract is why we need national legislation, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, also known as the PRO Act,” said IAM Headquarters General Vice President Brian Bryant. “The House of Representatives passed the PRO Act to give millions of American workers additional protections to organize and negotiate for better pay and benefits and a voice on the job.”
“I knew it would be close, but I knew we could get the numbers, because there was a changing of the guard,” said Chief Steward Shawn Reed. “There were a lot of new guys, my son works here, and I knew they were ready for a change.”
Cascades Containerboard workers in Niagara Falls, N.Y. demand a first contract, after the @CascadesSD
company’s two-year stall tactics, which don’t follow the intent of the National Labor Relations Act’s obligation to bargain in good faith. #1upic.twitter.com/XFKMCL4t57
IAM District 70 in Wichita, KS is partnering with the United Way of the Plains by inviting members of the community to join them in a Flags of Freedom Memorial Weekend celebration at the lodge’s union hall on Sunday, May 30. The special event will be the culmination of a two-week display of 600 American flags at the District building.
As a tribute to our great men and women of the United States Armed Forces for Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day, the American flags were offered by sponsors to support the local United Way community and veteran’s programs. The flags are being displayed from May 16 until May 31.
“It has been mine and the district’s absolute honor to have such an event happen here at the district,” said IAM District 70 President and Directing Business Representative Cornell Beard. “We have many veterans throughout our bargaining unit and a community that we are all so proud of. Joining forces with an organization like the United Way benefits our community astronomically. United Way President Pete Najera and United Way Community Service Liaison Mario Cervantes are two of the most ambitious go-getters I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I hope and pray this becomes an annual event for our community. The amount of support we have gotten from people driving by and seeing the flags has been humbling and amazing. May God bless our military forces, our country and all of the people that build it.”
“I cannot express enough gratitude to District 70 and all the Machinists who took part in creating such a momentous event that honors our brave men and women of the military,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “The IAM has a long tradition of supporting our military, and I look forward to being at Sunday’s event to personally share my respect and admiration.”
Sunday’s ceremony will include the posting of the colors by the McConnell Air Force Base Honor Guard, General Vice President Rickey Wallace, the United Way of the Plains, McConnell Air Force Base, the Wichita Mayor, District 70, and the Wichita-Hutchinson Labor Federation.
Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act (TVA) into law as part of the New Deal in 1933, the Machinists Union has been at the forefront in the development of the 90,000 square miles in the region. The TVA, which spans across seven states, has been the heart and soul of generations of families in the South.
The TVA employs over 10,000 people, many of whom are union members. It is broken down into two contracts, with the Machinists heavily represented in both. Machinists are involved in almost every facet of the operation, including working at nuclear and turbine sites and hydro plants.
Machinists also work in the facilities group maintaining all of the TVA complexes, performing inspections on the heavy equipment that mechanics work with at the Transmission Department, and supporting the line crews to ensure all of the equipment is running safely.
“Many workers are second, third and fourth generation employees, including myself,” said District 1888 Business Representative Keith McFarland. “The TVA is not just an employer here in the Tennessee Valley, it’s a tradition. Everyone takes great pride in what they do for the people that live in the region. They are among the safest and most highly skilled craftsmen and women in the world and all work with the same goal and that’s keeping the lights on.”
The Machinists Union also has its own TVA apprenticeship program, which affords journeymen hourly Machinists upgraded training. This training safeguards their future employment and helps grow our IAM workforce within the TVA.
“I’m so proud of our District 1888 Brothers and Sisters at the Tennessee Valley Authority,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “As a Tennessee native, I know how much of a lifeline the TVA is for this state and for much of the South. I’m especially thankful to Business Representative Keith McFarland and the rest of the team at District 1888 for all the work they have done and continue to do for our members at the TVA.”
The TVA provides cheap, clean, reliable energy to over 9 million people and is a driver of economic activity for most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia.
In a historic agreement, staff workers from North Dakota Democratic–Nonpartisan League Party (Dem-NPL) have voted overwhelmingly to join the IAM. The new members, who fight for hardworking North Dakotans each and every day, are the first state political party group to join the IAM.
“District 5 is thrilled to welcome the staff of the North Dakota Dem-NPL to our great union,’ said IAM District 5 Directing Business Representative Jeremy Pearson. “We are a powerful voice for workers in North Dakota, across the Midwest and in North America. Our members work in a diverse array of industries, always fighting for a better life for working people. We will bring the same respect and dignity on the job to our proud new members at the Dem-NPL.”
“I could not be more proud for our new members at the North Dakota Dem-NPL,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “These men and women are the backbone of the fight for a more just and equitable North Dakota. It only makes sense that they’d join the Fighting Machinists Union, where our motto is ‘justice on the job and service to the community.’ I’d like to especially thank District 5 Directing Business Representative Jeremy Pearson and Grand Lodge Representative Shannon Stucker for all the work they’ve done organizing this group and securing a first contract. Let’s continue the fight for a better life for workers in North Dakota and everywhere.”
“The Dem-NPL’s roots and origins are in labor organizing,” said Dem-NPL Executive Director Michael Taylor. “We are proud to honor, and return to those roots with this agreement. Unions, fighting for honest pay for a job well done, are what made North Dakota the premiere place to live in the country. Thank you IAM for dedicating your time to work with us through this process.”
“The staff of Dem-NPL are thrilled to have reached this agreement with management and IAM Local 2525,” added the Dem-NPL Staff. “Our candidates and elected officials have championed the rights of workers in North Dakota since the inception of our party, and today we turned those principles into action.”