The 600,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) supports the Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act, which would strengthen Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of commercial airline repair facilities outside the United States.
The IAM is the largest airline union in North America, representing over 100,000 airline workers.
The federal legislation, introduced by U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), would include measures such as unannounced FAA inspections of foreign repair stations, set minimum qualifications for mechanics and other workers, including drug testing and background checks, and require air carriers to submit detailed maintenance reports to the FAA.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 900 aircraft maintenance and repair stations have been certified by the FAA outside the U.S., which includes countries such as China, Singapore and Brazil.
“Our hard-working members proudly maintain commercial airplanes in North America for carriers such as American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and British Airways to name a few, and safety and quality is always a top priority,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It’s long overdue that carrier facilities outside the U.S., abide by the high-quality standards that help ensure smooth and safe travel for passengers and the airline workers. The current lack of uniform regulatory standards and oversight sets an unlevel field with carriers increasingly enticed by the financial incentives to push this work overseas. This results in job losses in the U.S. and risks passenger safety.”
“Congress should move swiftly to pass this very important legislation that would set a series of safety and security requirements for overseas facilities,” said Richard Johnsen, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President. “There should be a uniform level of maintenance requirements whether in the U.S., or overseas. Our IAM members are tasked with this critical job of maintenance here in North America and it’s simply unfair that they are forced to compete with the lower standards of work done at foreign facilities.”
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is one of the largest and most diverse industrial trade unions in North America, representing approximately 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, airlines, railroad, transit, healthcare, automotive, and other industries.
By Connie Kelliher, IAM District 751 Communications Director
When Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal came to the Seattle 751 Union Hall for a press conference promoting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act or PRO Act, 751 leaders also took the opportunity to discuss the importance of the aerospace industry, manufacturing jobs and workers’ rights in America.
“It was refreshing to have an administration and Secretary of Labor who listens and cares about workers. Murray has long been a champion for workers and helped us at 751 on many fronts. Coming from labor, Walsh understands the challenges we face, sees how corporations have overstepped their bounds and trampled on workers’ rights,” IAM District 751 President Jon Holden told The Stand. “Passing the PRO Act would help restore the rights of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace.”
District 751 President Jon Holden and 751 Legislative Director Donny Donovan emphasized the important role aerospace plays in not just our state economy, but our national economy. In addition, Holden also talked about the importance of our upcoming contract negotiations in 2024, since it will be our first time back at the bargaining table for full-fledged negotiations with Boeing since 2008 – giving our members collective power to push their top issues. Each of the leaders understood the significant role of American aerospace jobs and ensuring the industry remains vibrant long into the future.
It was significant that Secretary Walsh is the first Secretary of Labor to visit the 751 hall, and that he is also the first Secretary of Labor who truly came up through the ranks of labor – serving as an officer in the Laborers Local 223, then becoming head of the Building and Construction Trades Council, and then getting elected Mayor of Boston.
“District 751 continues to speak up about growing the aerospace industry while ensuring workers’ rights are protected,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “Their advocacy is not only improving the lives of our members but also workers throughout our nation.”
IAM officers and activists from Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana gathered in Gulfport, MS recently to build power and learn new strategies to grow and strengthen the IAM.
Across District W2021, the IAM has a strong presence in the aerospace, manufacturing, federal sector, shipbuilding, and wood, pulp and paper industries.
“Our district is laser focused on growing our membership both in numbers and strength,” said IAM District W2021 President and Directing Business Representative Chuck Bennett. “Delegates to our district meeting and state councils heard first hand that the IAM is mobilized at every level to help us negotiate even stronger contracts, build power legislatively and politically, communicate effectively with members and future members, and grow our union.”
Delegates heard from IAM National Political and Legislative Director Hasan Solomon, Associate General Counsel Laura Ewan, Communications Director Jonathan Battaglia and Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative Valerie Rodriguez. All presentations and discussions were centered on delegates knowing the resources available to them as leaders in the IAM.
“I’m extremely grateful to Brother Bennett, the leadership of District W2021, and the Mississippi and Louisiana State Councils,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “Our members are engaged and eager to take our strength to a new level across the South.”
IAM women from across the U.S. and Canada recently participated in the 2022 Women’s Leadership Program at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, MD. The curriculum empowered participants to build leadership skills and look for resolutions to working women and family issues through education and solidarity.
Wednesday marked the opening of pivotal contract talks between IAM Local 700 and Local 1726 and Pratt and Whitney management in Cromwell, CT.
IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr., Aerospace General Vice President Mark Blondin, and Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant joined the Locals’ bargaining committees to open contract talks for the agreement, which expires on May 1 2022.
Representing nearly 3,000 members at Middletown and East Hartford, CT, these IAM members produce and maintain jet aircraft engines for military and commercial jets such as the KC-46 air refueling tanker, F-35 joint strike fighter, and the A320 commercial airliner.
“One thing we have heard over and over from our membership is they demand job security,” said Martinez. “Our team has prepared for months for these negotiations, and the continual focus on protecting and growing the workforce in Connecticut is paramount. Many of our members are military veterans – and are extremely proud of the work they do. The members at Pratt and Whitney are the single greatest reason for this company’s success. These jobs must stay here in Connecticut.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pratt and Whitney workforce suffered a 13% reduction in staff even though sales increased by over $1 billion from 2020 to 2021. RTX (Raytheon), of which Pratt and Whitney is a segment, has continually increased sales from 34.7 in 2018 to 64.4 billion dollars in 2021. Additionally, in 2021 members helped increase Pratt and Whitney’s backlog to $85 billion, the largest in Raytheon’s portfolio and a sizeable $5 billion in profit in the same year.
“Our brothers and sisters here at Pratt and Whitney are some of the highest skilled in the country. And with those skills, they placed their safety and their family’s safety on the line for the last two years. Ensuring success for this company,” said Blondin. “It’s time for Pratt and Whitney’s management to realize the same and offer an agreement with a robust pension and job security.”
In 2016 the membership accepted a strong 5.5-year agreement after the company’s initial offer provided:
Weakened job security protections.
New job descriptions covering entry-level work.
Numerous attacks on contract language.
Over five years later, the membership comes back to the table with many of the same concerns and a new facility in North Carolina that currently completes some of the work in Connecticut.
“Our members stepped up during the pandemic,” said Bryant. “This team here at the table has our full support and resources at their disposal. We must come to a fair agreement.”
In December last year, both negotiating committees attended the W3 Centers’ Negotiation Prep class. The intense week-long course focused on honing their negotiation skills, including communications, strategic planning, and more.
In addition to negotiation prep, the International President has committed the resources of the IAM Grand Lodge, including the Legal, Strategic Resources, Communications, Political and Legislative departments, and others. Therefore, the negotiating committee and the members of both locals will have all the necessary tools at their disposal.
“We are coming to the table with Pratt and Whitney to collectively bargain a strong agreement with the needs of our membership at hand,” said Jeff Santini, IAM District 26 Assistant Directing Business Representative and Chief Negotiator. “We thank IP Martinez, GVP Bryant, and GVP Blondin for being here today with support and unity.”