It was the first large-scale event hosted by the Biden administration and one that IAM Local 1406 member Brent Sletten won’t soon forget. On July 4, 2021, Sletten and his wife, Tricia, were one of the 1,000 military personnel and essential workers invited to a BBQ held on the White House lawn to celebrate America’s birthday and the country’s return to near-normalcy in a post-pandemic world.
“It was definitely the invite of a lifetime,” said Sletten. “It was very cool. I just sat back and tried to soak it all in.”
Sletten has 24 years under his belt working for GE Datex-Ohmeda in Madison, WI. He was one of the working class machinist heroes
who during the pandemic put his life on the line to build anesthesia, respiratory and infant care machines during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, used around the world to save lives. That’s why his local was chosen to take part in the cookout, to thank these frontline workers for what they did to help save this country. Sletten said he was honored and grateful to be elected to represent the Machinists Union at the event but wishes his entire crew was there too.
“There was no one-man band in the shop,” explained Sletten. “It was just amazing that out of 450 or 500 people working during the pandemic, there were no squabbles or arguments. Everyone just kept a level head and got to work. They were there just to get it done, put that seal on the box and ship it out. That was amazing”
What made the Washington, D.C. trip even more significant for Sletten was that it came just days after Local 1406 finished negotiating another five-year agreement
with the company which gave members and their families wage increases, managed health care premiums and an appreciation award for the long hours and work performed by the membership during the pandemic.
“I cannot speak highly enough of the dedication to the work performed and solidarity found amongst the members of Local Lodge 1406,” said IAM District 10 Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra. “The overwhelming solidarity of the membership allowed the negotiating committee to fight through tough negotiations and secure a new long term agreement.”
“It is exciting to see Brent and the members of Local Lodge 1406 being recognized and appreciated by the leaders of this great nation for the work they performed as front line workers during the pandemic,” said IAM District 10 Business Representative Joe Terlisner. “The work the members and other frontline workers performed over the course of the last year will not be forgotten.”
As a member of the negotiating team, Sletten said he was proud of the work done at the table and in t
“The good part was that for the first time in my 24 years and seven contracts at GE, the shop was more active in the negotiating process than I have ever seen and that was just amazing,” said Sletten.
IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway is thrilled these frontline workers were recognized by the White House and proud of what they were able to accomplish at the bargaining table for working families in Wisconsin.
“IAM members at Local 1406 answered the call and put everything on the line when our country needed them the most,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “This core value of taking care of each other carried through into the bargaining process where their solidarity sent a powerful message to the company that they deserved better, which ultimately helped them bring home a strong IAM contract. It’s great to see their fortitude and courage being celebrated on the shop floor and all the way to the White House.”
Sletten says he appreciates this amazing opportunity, but at the end of the day, it won’t change the way he operates.
“I am here to get it done and do what’s right for the membership. That’s all I want to do,” said Sletten.
Participants can compete in two different meat categories or can barbeque both ribs and chicken in an attempt to be crowned Grand Champion. Meats will be judged on: appearance, presentation, moisture, smoke rings and tenderness (video of pulling the rib bones and slicing or pulling meat from chicken). View the complete set of rules here
Registration deadline is Friday, September 24, 2021 at 9 p.m. ET.
The competition will be held Saturday, September 25, 2021, with all submissions saved in an assigned Dropbox folder. The deadline for submissions is 9 p.m. ET. Winners will be announced live on Facebook on Monday, September 27, 2021 at 8 p.m. ET.
For more information or questions, please contact Terri Kenealy in the IAM Woodworkers Department at 301-967-4555.
Guide Dogs of America is the IAM’s favorite charity. In 2020, GDA completed a merger with Tender Loving Canines and now provides hardworking service dogs for people who are blind/ visually impaired, veterans, individuals with autism and facilities to become trusted companions that bring confidence, independence and mobility. Their services are provided free of charge to residents in the U.S. and Canada.
When Jerry McCoy heard about the American Rescue Plan in March, he didn’t know that much about it. In 2011, he retired as a machinist from the Y-12 National Security Complex facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and has been living off the company pension. Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC operates the site.
“I’m retired during a pandemic. If they ever said, ‘We don’t have enough money in your pension plan,’ it would have been devastating,” said McCoy, a member of IAM Local 480.
President Biden signed the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Relief Act into law on March 11, as part of the American Rescue Plan. The law preserves and restores pensions for more than one million retirees and workers in about 200 severely underfunded multiemployer pension plans. McCoy was thankful his pension didn’t fit into that category. However, he knew the dire consequences looming for all U.S. pensioners without the provisions of the “Butch Lewis Act.” It protected healthy plans and strengthened the overall pension system, something the IAM lobbied for heavily.McCoy was happy to see the legislation, because he considers his pension his lifeline. “It’s very important because we depend on that for our livelihood, my wife and I.” He said it was reassuring to know that he would someday retire with a pension, even when he was younger. “That was the reason you stayed there,” he said. “That was the reason you wanted to be there.”
McCoy started working for what was then Union Carbide in 1970 and 41 years later, hopes young workers realize the benefits of defined benefit pension plans and the importance of preserving them. “New employees come in and don’t have a pension. They have a 401K. You might as well go to Vegas,” he said.
Fortunate enough to retire at 60, McCoy is thankful his wife has a pension and their daughter was able to receive a union scholarship from the AFL-CIO and go on to work for a Canadian company that provides a pension.
It’s all about priorities and getting a fair return on our work. “Giving bonuses sounds good, but I’d rather have a raise,” he said. And a pension.
Solidarity and unity were on full display this week when IAM Local 778 members working at Highway Trailer Sales in Kansas City, MO settled their 12-day strike and returned to work with a contract which contained a 10 percent pay increase. The group of four tractor trailer mechanics voted unanimously to accept the new agreement.78
As the strike grew in numbers of days, so did the size of the picket line. Even though there were only four members on strike, the positive response from fellow union members, local labor unions, politicians and the community was a true display of how solidarity and support make a big impact.
BREAKING! Thanks to your solidarity, the striking workers at Highway Trailer Sales INC have won the raises & benefits they rightfully deserve!
Today’s solidarity event on the picket line is canceled.
“The members at Highway Trailer Sales went on strike July 1. This group stood together every day to fight off the employer’s desire to sub-contract their work and cut their benefits and wages,” said Local 778 Business Representative Scott Brown. “This unit was successful in their fight and returned to work July 13 after accepting an offer with 100 percent approval. The amount of support from other labor unions, elected state and city representatives, retirees and other workers showing support on the strike line and making donations definitely played a major role in the owner getting back to the table. We’re happy to get this group back to work under a fair and acceptable contract that holds value to their labor and skill set.”
“These members held strong from day one of the strike and that is why they were successful in not taking concessions,” said Local 778 Directing Business Representative Joe Capra. “I want to thank the UAW, and all the other unions that came out in strong support during this strike. In addition, BR Scott Brown showed his leadership in turning this strike to a win for labor, and a special thank you to GLR Larry Young for his help throughout negotiations and the strike.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group for standing up and fighting for what they deserve,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “This group worked throughout the entire pandemic, making sure they could keep tractor trailers on the road. They sacrificed past raises to help their employer, and the time came for their employer to reciprocate with a fair contract. In addition to their strength and solidarity, the support they were shown by the labor community, political leaders and the greater Kansas City area has been truly inspiring. These members exemplify what it means to be Fighting Machinists.”
The IAM was among a number of labor unions honored during the Washington Spirit’s recent “Salute to Labor” night at Audi Field.
The July 10 event was a nod to the region’s workers, including those who helped construct the 20,000-seat sports venue that was completed in July 2018. The $400 million stadium in Buzzard Point was a construction project with workers such as carpenters, painters and ironworkers.
The evening’s match between Spirit and the North Carolina Courage also included posting of union logos on the scoreboard, including that of the IAM.
The Spirit thanked many unions in the D.C. metro region, which includes the IAM, the Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) and the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM).
The Spirit’s website
touted the work of the those who constructed Audi Field, which also included apprenticeship opportunities for local residents:
Over the 18 months that it took to build the stadium, many different hands were needed to pull this project together. Not only was it a good learning experience for many, but through the project labor agreement, it has turned into long-term jobs for local residents of the Washington, D.C. area.
Audi Field also serves as home to the DC United men’s professional American soccer team.
The IAM is continuing to urge the Biden administration to protect Service Contract Act (SCA) workers’ jobs by reinstating critical job security protections.
Service Contract workers are private-sector employees who work under federal contracts, primarily at military bases and other federal installations. The IAM represents nearly 40,000 Service Contract Workers in various industries, spread across more than 800 locations.
In 2019, former President Trump rescinded Executive Order 13495, which President Obama implemented to provide essential job security to service contract workers. The order, known as “Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts,” granted workers the right of first refusal for continued employment when an SCA government contractor or employer is replaced by a new successor contractor at the same location. This policy benefited both the government and the workers by ensuring workforce stability as government contracts change hands.
IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. wrote a letter
to President Biden in February urging him to restore Service Contract Workers job protections.
“Not only is President Trump’s petty rebuke of President Obama’s policy bad for government contracting efficiency, it is also disastrous for the workers who are displaced, along with their families and the communities where they reside,” wrote Martinez “We respectfully ask that you swiftly reinstitute EO 13495 for the sake of efficient government procurement and fairness to these workers and their families.”