TODAY: Demand Passage of the PRO Act to Strengthen Workers’ Rights

TODAY: Demand Passage of the PRO Act to Strengthen Workers’ Rights

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


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Retired Machinist Helping Young Workers Jumpstart Their Careers

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.

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IAM’s Rodríguez-Báez Retiring from the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor

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.”

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Rodríguez-Báez de la IAM se jubila de la Federación Laboral de Puerto Rico

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.”

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IAM Mourns Passing of Congressional Ally Alcee Hastings

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.

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After Historic Strike, Maine Machinists Making Positive Changes at Bath Iron Works Shipyard

After Historic Strike, Maine Machinists Making Positive Changes at Bath Iron Works Shipyard

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.

WATCH: Maine IAM Local S6 Shipbuilders Turn Solidarity into Success

“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.

READ: Local S6 Built is Best Built

“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.”

More than 4,300 IAM Local S6 members at Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, voted 87 percent to ratify a three-year collective bargaining agreement at the Maine shipbuilding company on August 23, 2020.

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.

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