Winpisinger Center Training Helps IAM Respond to Workplace Incidents

IAM members recently participated in Critical Incident Response Training, (CIRT) at the IAM’s Winpisinger Center. Brother Daniel Wicklem of IAM Local 737 gives his report on the importance of this training. The main goal of the CIRT program is to train participants on how to best help members cope with the effects of a traumatic event, or critical incidents, such as accidents or death on the job.

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Machinists Union Urges Alcoa to Stop Planned Demolition of Washington State Intalco Aluminum Smelter

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) is urging Alcoa’s CEO  to halt the planned demolition of the Intalco aluminum smelter in Ferndale, Wash., the last such remaining facility west of the Mississippi River.

Nearly three years ago, 700 union members at IAM Local 2379 (District 160) were laid off at the Ferndale Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter production plant as the plant entered curtailment. From the moment the facility was shuttered, the IAM has been working with all willing partners and stakeholders to reopen the smelter and restore these high-quality union jobs. The project, if not demolished, could restore aluminum manufacturing jobs in Washington state, reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses and increase energy efficiency if reopened.

The United States now produces only 1 percent of the world’s aluminum, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report . China ranks first with approximately 57 percent of global aluminum production. Russia ranks third. 

Click here for the full letter  from IAMAW International President Robert Martinez Jr. to Alcoa CEO Roy Harvey.

“Since the curtailment of the Intalco smelter more than two years ago, the IAMAW has worked to assemble a coalition of supporters who understand the importance of preserving a domestic aluminum industry in the United States and the critical role the Intalco Works smelter in Ferndale, Washington plays,” said Martinez. “Thanks in large part to the IAMAW’s advocacy and coalition building, Congress included critical support for domestic aluminum producers in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These aluminum industry-focused provisions in the IRA have created a path forward for this facility to reopen and once again start producing strategically important domestic aluminum and put more than 700 IAMAW members back to work in Ferndale. 

READ: Washington Congressional Delegation Urges Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to Negotiate in Good Faith to Restore Intalco Aluminum Plant

“With the passage of the IRA, the IAMAW assembled a management, investment, and advocacy team that came very close to achieving our goal of restarting the smelter under new ownership/management,” said Martinez. “Unfortunately, with electricity prices recently spiking in the Northwest the lead investor involved in the restart of Intalco Works concluded they could not proceed with the project. Undeterred, the IAMAW and other supporters of the project went to work to find a new lead investor. That work is currently ongoing, and real progress is being made, but the IAMAW needs more time for new investor to perform their due diligence. On behalf of the IAMAW, the workforce at Intalco Works, the Ferndale community, and the nation at large; we urge you to pause the proposed demolition of the Intalco Works.” 

READ: IAM Asks For Washington State Funding to Restore Aluminum Smelter Jobs

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IAM CORE Kicks Off Historic Negotiations With Apple Management

The IAM’s Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (IAM CORE), the first Apple workers to join a union, kicked off formal negotiations last week with Apple management.

The negotiations come on the heels of the historic organizing victory for the retail store employees, by voting to form the first union at the tech giants’ Towson, MD location, last June.

“This is a historic moment for these workers,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Winning the right to a seat at the table through collective bargaining is the only equalizer working men and women have to better their working lives. They bring to the table with them the backing of every tool at the IAM’s disposal.”

“It is exciting to see these workers empowered,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “The courage these new members have shown in joining together to take that first step to organize is inspiring.”

“These new members are ready and have invested a lot of their own time for these negotiations,” said IAM District 4 Directing Business Representative Jay Wadleigh. “The Negotiating Committee also spent a week at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center preparing for negotiations with the tools to get the job done.”

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IAM District 54 Vice President Sits at Senator’s Roundtable to Advocate for Veterans

District 54 Vice President and Veterans Committee Chairman Fred Confer recently attended a veterans roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) facility in Ashland, OH.

The roundtable discussed the newly-established PACT Act, the benefits it will provide for veterans, and how to make those benefits accessible to veterans as efficiently as possible.

Also sitting at the roundtable were the Ashland County Sheriff, representatives from Ashland County Veterans Services, officers from the VFW, and Mansfield Veterans Affairs Clinic workers. 

About 20 veterans from the community observed the discussion, some of whom Confer served with in Desert Storm. Confer served in the United States Army (active, reserves, and National Guard) from 1976 to 1997, reaching the rank of Sergeant. 

Confer has been an IAM member for a little over 18 years, and he serves as Vice President of the Ohio State Council of Machinists and President of Local 1297, in addition to his District Lodge 54 positions.  

At union meetings, Confer distributes IAM Veterans Services information and gives reports on Veterans Committee activities and initiatives.“I’m just trying to educate people on the resources that are out there for veterans,” said Confer. “I plan on attending the IAM’s Veterans Services classes at W3 so that I can help other veterans and learn about all of the ways we can continue advocating for veterans.” 

“Fred is known in the Ashland community as a resource for veterans,” said IAM District 54 President and Directing Business Representative T. Dean Wright Jr. “He was the first person to be invited to Senator Brown’s veterans roundtable, and they couldn’t have chosen anyone to better speak on policy intended to support veterans.” 

“Brother Confer served our country in the Army and is continuing his service to the community as a political advocate for workers and veterans,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “It is our responsibility as activists to do right by our military veterans, and fight for them. I’m thankful to members like Fred who use opportunities in the union, like the Ohio State Council of Machinists, to get involved with political matters and help our communities.”

Click here for information about IAM Veterans Services program.

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Machinists Union, Allies Urge Creation of Clean Energy Manufacturing Jobs

On January 18, the Machinists Union and other labor and advocacy organizations sent a letter  to President Biden to ensure that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is implemented as intended, which includes measures to advance a new wave of manufacturing jobs and rebuild trust with American workers taking into account good clean energy jobs.

The letter  comes as a response after the European Union and other trading partners’ claims that the structure of tax incentives for manufacturing in the clean energy economy offered through the IRA violates World Trade Organization (WTO) and Free Trade Agreement rules.

“The IRA creates provisions to create and support good clean energy jobs helping communities that have been affected by outsourcing and failed trade policies,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “The Administration shouldn’t be dissuaded by outdated trade rules not intended to support emerging industries and must keep its promise to working Americans to reignite our manufacturing industries.”

The IRA has the potential to create historic clean energy investments that would lead to good paying union jobs.

The IAM has made it clear that it will continue to advocate for strong middle-class jobs and will oppose any trade rules that are detrimental for the industries we represent.

The letter sent to the White House was signed by the Machinists Union, Public Citizen, the United Steelworkers, the United Auto Workers and Sierra Club.

Read the letter here.

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Connie Vallas Hired as IAM Associate General Counsel

IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. has appointed accomplished union, workers’ rights and social justice attorney Connie Vallas as an Associate General Counsel in the IAM Legal Department. The appointment was effective January 9, 2023.

Over the course of her career, Vallas has represented workers in the areas of negotiations, contract enforcement, administrative appeals, unemployment matters and Unfair Labor Practice charges. She has also led all aspects of internal and external organizing in order to strengthen union membership and fight for issues important to working families on a local and national level.

“Connie brings as extraordinarily wide range of experiences and expertise to our Legal Department and our entire union,” said Martinez. “We look forward to her passion for our movement benefiting our membership and the causes we fight for every day.”

Vallas joins the IAM from SEIU Local 500 in Maryland, where as Director of Organizing and Campaigns she helped to organize workers across public and private education, human services and non-profit industries. Prior to that, Vallas served for 12 years with SEIU Local 1000, where she represented more than 100,000 state workers throughout California as the union’s Assistant Statewide Field Director.

In addition to fighting for working people, Vallas also has a passion for serving her community. She has held key volunteer responsibilities with the Black Women Organizing Action (BWPOA), the Poor People’s Campaign, the Volunteer Low Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, the Public Defender’s Office, Domestic Violence Clinics, the Public Law Center, adolescent outreach programs and Bar associations.

Vallas holds a Juris Doctor from Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from California State University Long Beach.


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