The IAM and a coalition of labor unions sent a letter
voicing their support for the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684).
Rail labor organizations, including the IAM also wrote a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing strong support for the INVEST in America Act.
U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the five-year surface transportation bill that directs federal investments in roads, bridges, transit, and rail. This legislation will improve safety, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and secure a future with a vibrant freight and passenger rail industry.
The letter echoed support for the expansion of Buy America to include construction materials for highway projects and a strong commitment to American manufacturing and American workers.
“American workers, both union and non-union, want to provide the necessary domestic materials for infrastructure and construction while allowing reasonable waiver flexibility to ensure that we maximize domestic supply chains and build back better,” wrote the union coalition. “Sectors such as steel, concrete, asphalt, aggregates, and others throughout the transportation supply chain are highly unionized and support highly unionized and support high road, family-sustaining jobs. We urge you to continue your support for Buy America.”
“This legislation will bolster our infrastructure and provide needed investment in our passenger and freight rail,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Thanks to the leadership of Chairs DeFazio, Norton, and Payne for moving this vital legislation out of committee. This bill will allow our nation’s transit, freight, and passenger rail sectors to expand to meet the increasing demand. We look forward to working to gain the support of other members of Congress to make this legislation a reality.”
“The Committee’s passing of this Act is a great step towards protecting and securing the livelihoods of our rail members,” said Richard Johnsen, Chief of Staff to the International President. “We must keep pressuring Congress to pass this much-needed legislation which will help ensure the future viability of the rail industry.”
“The benefits of transformative investments in our infrastructure are far-ranging: we can create and sustain good-paying jobs, many of which don’t require a college degree, restore our global competitiveness, tackle climate change head-on, and improve the lives of all Americans through modern infrastructure that emphasizes mobility and access, and spurs our country’s long-term economic growth,” said Chair DeFazio.
“As chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, I believe the country today requires a new and more comprehensive approach well beyond our prior bills,” said Chair Norton.
“The INVEST in America Act will bring America’s aging rail infrastructure into the 21st century,” said Chairman Payne.
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo recently visited Machinists Union members at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, CT. The cabinet officials witnessed firsthand how federal registered apprenticeship programs have strengthened eastern Connecticut’s manufacturing workforce.
The U.S. Secretaries, who were part of a group led by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), went on a tour of the busy shipyard and discussed how Electric Boat has utilized federal registered apprenticeship programs like the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative (MPI) to help train and grow their workforce.
“I want to thank Congressman Courtney for facilitating the visit of U.S. Secretaries Walsh and Raimondo to meet our members at Electric Boat,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. “The IAM is grateful for their continued support of legislation like the MPI that will help provide jobs for future generations of Machinists.”
“We are very fortunate to have a congressional delegation here in Connecticut and also the Secretaries of Labor and Commerce that see the value in supporting programs like apprenticeships,” said IAM District 26 Directing Business Representative Mike Stone. “These programs further our members’ education and, in turn, make for a smarter, stronger workforce to perform the work our companies do such as the growing submarine construction programs at Electric Boat, currently and into the future.”
The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021
would expand access to Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs. It would also yield a projected $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased tax revenue and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.
As warm weather returns and COVID-19 restrictions are eased, people are ready to spend their days outdoors again. There is no better time to show your IAM pride with apparel and accessories available directly from MachinistsGear.com
MachinistsGear.com is equipped with the latest industry encryption for securing user data and credit card transactions. Visitors to the site have the option of creating an account for quick and easy transactions in the future.
Machinists Union members in New Mexico played a major role in bringing home a landslide victory for U.S. Rep.-elect Melanie Stansbury, who won by nearly 25 points in a special election to fill the former seat of U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
“While the labor movement will never have the big money so often used to sway political elections, we have something even stronger and that’s solidarity. The Machinists Union will always answer the call to support candidates who put the needs of America’s working families first,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “I am so proud of the work that was done by IAM members Ernest Dow, Ashley Long, John Dyrz and others in New Mexico who helped to bring home a win for U.S. Rep.-elect Melanie Stansbury. Their dedication to making sure the leaders of New Mexico are good for the hardworking men and women of this state is what sets our union apart and paves the way for the future.”
The New Mexico State Council of Machinists, led by IAM’s Ernest “Red” Dow, a 41-year member of the Machinist Union, who played a big part in getting the word out on Stansbury’s record. Running on a platform of creating an economy that works for New Mexico’s working families, the IAM lent support by knocking on doors and phone banking on behalf of Stansbury.
“Union members will listen to other union members,” said Dow. “They may not agree or have the same political affiliation, but they will listen. We use that opportunity to educate them on candidates, like Stansbury, who are in tune with the values of working people and their families.”
“When Machinists don’t show up to door knock or make calls or pound the pavement for the candidates who stand with labor, the labor movement loses a lot,” said Machinists Union member Ashley Long who is the secretary-treasurer of the New Mexico State Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “We have to support worker-friendly candidates like Stansbury who will always vote to help working families. Our livelihoods depend on it.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) congratulated Stansbury on her strong win, saying this election was a top priority.
“Melanie Stansbury’s resounding victory tonight is a testament to her strong ties to her community and Democrats’ momentum to continue taking bold actions For The People,” said Pelosi. “A proud daughter of New Mexico, the Congresswoman-elect ran a disciplined campaign focused on improving the health care, education, and economic well-being of families across the state.”
The Machinists Union is celebrating Pride year-round with new gear available through the Grand Lodge. Pride gear features crew and V-neck T-shirts, polo shirts, a pin and a mug with an IAM rainbow logo.
Our mission includes preserving and growing the IAM on the basis of solidarity and justice. There is strength in unity.
You can order the merchandise by contacting the IAM Purchasing Department at headquarters via email, phone: (301) 967-4712 or fax: (301) 967-3428.
BALTIMORE, June 9, 2021 — Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) employees achieved a significant victory this month as legislation passed authorizing nearly 600 employees to collectively bargain and join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
For almost two years, Baltimore County library staff has been trying to organize with the IAM. But since libraries are created by Maryland state law, state legislation had to be drafted and passed for this group of both full and part-time workers to be able to form a union. The IAM has worked side by side with Baltimore County Public Library employees and Maryland elected officials to help that become a reality.
State Sen. Shelly Hettleman and Del. Cathi Forbes sponsored the state legislation. The legislation goes into effect on July 1, 2021.
Employees cite healthcare benefits, transparency and communication from management as their top issues for unionizing.
“An IAM contract will give library staff a voice at work and the ability to negotiate fair wages and working conditions,” said Bridget Fitzgerald, IAM Grand Lodge Representative and lead organizer on the campaign. “A union contract will protect the best aspects of their jobs and provide a process to have input in improvements.”
Since the organizing effort began, an environment of supposed neutrality, and even claims of support by the Library system for the employee’s right to collectively bargain for a contract, gave way to the library Board of Trustees voting in February to hire lobbyists to advocate language that would have undermined the organizing process.
“The IAM is proud to be an instrumental part in helping these dedicated employees gain the right to organize and collectively bargain a union contract,” said IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes. “Through an IAM contract, hardworking Baltimore County Public Library employees will gain critical workplace protections.”
The next step in the campaign will be to hold a union representation election in September 2021 once the majority of workers sign cards to show support for the IAM.
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.
With hurricane season on our doorstep, it is essential to remind our members that the IAM has your back in your time of need. Now is the time to prepare and extend a helping hand to your sisters and brothers. The IAM Disaster Relief program is another of many examples of how members are helping members in our great union.
Through your collective generosity, we are able to help our sisters and brothers when they need us most. Additionally, our union is often there for our members before other entities are able to react. In order to remain prepared to provide immediate financial assistance to our sisters and brothers impacted by natural disasters, we ask that you please consider donating to the IAM Disaster Relief Fund. All monies donated to the IAM Disaster Relief Fund goes directly to IAM members and their families in need.
This meaningful assistance program would not be possible without your support.
If you have been affected by a natural disaster and need financial assistance, click here for information on how to apply for help from the IAM. To expedite assistance claims, please contact your local or district lodge to help you through the process.
Please Note: If you participate in specific Union Plus programs and have been affected by natural disasters, you may be eligible for financial assistance through the Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant program.
In the small town of Hooks, TX, more than 500 members of IAM Local 1243 rebuild vehicles that are vital to our nation’s military. They work at Red River Army Depot (RRAD) for Amentum, a company that has the contract to make various repairs and completely rebuild High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvees), Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and other vehicles for the U.S. Army.
Red River Army Depot is also the workplace of nearly 1,800 NFFE-IAM Local FL2189 members.
IAM members at RRAD take their jobs seriously and have great pride in being part of the mission and to help protect our soldiers.
For Local 1243 Secretary-Treasurer LaBarbara Walker, the pride she has is deeply personal. Her daughter has made a career of serving in the U.S. Air Force.
“It is very rewarding work because you know you’re keeping our soldiers safe,” said Walker. “You always do your best and never take shortcuts. We have a saying that you build it like your life depends on it, because theirs does.”
Walker has more than nine years with the company and works as a mechanic in the rubber shop. She’s been involved in the union since day one and was the local’s first Secretary-Treasurer.
Local 1243 President Mark Harvey echoes the sentiment of pride.
“People love the work they are doing, because it makes you feel like you’re a part of something,” said Harvey. “It seems like everyone has a family member or a friend that has gone overseas to war, so it gives you great pride in knowing the quality of work you do can help keep them safe.”
Harvey started working at RRAD in 2007, and has been active in the union since he helped his coworkers organize and join the IAM in 2014.
“The contractors were getting treated really bad and it wasn’t getting any better,” said Harvey. “So the first chance we got, we jumped on it. We got cards signed and haven’t looked back. We have been trying to build solidarity and have a better unit ever since.”
That task hasn’t always been easy due to the many challenges the membership has faced.
Employees working under U.S. government contracts deal with situations many working in the private sector don’t. Members often find themselves working for a new employer and having to negotiate bridge agreements every few years as new companies win bids for the work.
Government contracts are also subject to fluctuations in demand of production. This has led to two massive layoffs in recent years for the Local 1243 members at RRAD. Upon joining the IAM, there were over 1,000 members. Membership numbers have dropped all the way to 400, but now there are little more than 500 members.
Losing half the jobs in the local can undoubtedly create feelings of reservation heading into negotiations, but the Local 1243 leadership wasn’t going to let that (or a global pandemic), keep them from building upon what was started six years earlier.
The Negotiating Committee, along with Business Representative Melone Wey, participated in a Negotiations Prep course facilitated by the William W. Winpisinger Center. Working with their IAM Aerospace Coordinators, they put together a negotiating strategy to secure a solid contract for their members.
One thing that wasn’t in their negotiation preparation was COVID-19. As the deadly pandemic took its tight grip on the world, in-person meetings were scrapped, travel was restricted and social distancing became the norm. Trading face-to-face bargaining sessions in hotel meeting rooms for Microsoft Team’s calls on laptops is just one of the many aspects of bargaining that has changed during COVID.
“You get a much better feel for people when you’re in the same room,” said District 171 Directing Business Representative Ben Moody. “You have to put a lot of trust in the other side of the table, something that doesn’t come easy during negotiations. It can be hard to build a rapport over video conference.
“I thought we had a solid proposal going in, the group had good contract and we were trying to build on that,” said Moody.
It didn’t take long for the committee to realize the company wasn’t on the same page when it came to the contract they were looking for.
“It was a struggle at first,” said Harvey. “They wanted to rip up everything we had earned before that and start over with a whole new contract. That just wasn’t going to work.”
One of the biggest issues at the table for the committee, was the same issue looming over most union contract negotiations in the United States: Healthcare.
The current contract consisted of an 80/20 medical insurance plan, where the employee pays 20 percent of the costs. Amentum wanted to abandon that plan and pay money for each hour worked, then employees could purchase the very same insurance on their own.
The changes in health insurance proposed by the company would have a dividing effect on the membership. Those opting to purchase insurance for an individual would initially profit from the extra money on the hour, while those needing to insure an entire family would end up paying over $10,000 a year out of pocket.
“As president of the local, it was totally unacceptable,” said Harvey. “I represent everyone as a whole and can’t accept something that benefits some and hurts others. We told them it was unacceptable and the membership would be ready to strike.”
The medical insurance changes proposed by the company in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t have been more ill-timed. With the entire country dealing with a rising death toll, mounting jobs losses and increasing cost of goods, forcing families paying thousands of dollars more for the same heath care seemed callous and cruel.
Local 1243 Negotiating Committee member Trey Evans contracted COVID-19 during contract negotiations. Being sick, a hospital visit and having a fever that reached 107 degrees wouldn’t stop him from attending every bargaining session via video conference.
Local 1243 Trustee and negotiating committee member Trey Evans, contracted COVID and was sick during the bargaining process.
“I got up and was feeling a little bad, but by 10 a.m. I could tell something was wrong,” said the heavy equipment operator Evans, who has worked at RRAD for 15 years. “I went and got tested and ended up being positive for COVID-19. I was pretty sick for a while, I felt horrible.
“I had fevers as high as 107 and lost my sense of taste. I went to the hospital at one point and got put on some kind of medication. It was a rough time,” said Evans.
Evans was one of the first people to contact the IAM about organizing, and has been involved with the union ever since. COVID wasn’t going to keep him from his duties.
“Even battling COVID with high fevers, I never missed a day of negotiations,” said Evans.
The company’s last, best and final offer had some improvements but still included the abandoning of the provided health insurance, but slightly increased the hourly rate to purchase the insurance.
“Having COVID at the time, I feel I had a different perspective than anyone else,” said Evans. “I took the changes to healthcare very personal. I felt they didn’t care about me at all.”
“The insurance proposals were a slap in the face with what they were intending to do,” said Moody. “It was the exact same insurance, but was going to cost some a heck of a lot more. We recommended to reject the contract and go out on strike.”
The negotiating committee went straight to work, tapping into all their resources at the IAM Southern Territory, Aerospace Department and IAM Headquarters. Fliers were created and distributed to educate the membership on the healthcare changes being proposed. The committee saw it important to explain the negative impact the changes would immediately have on families and how the cost of healthcare would eventually surpass any increase in pay members would see.
“These kind of changes would be catastrophic to members with families,” said Harvey. “Especially for anyone who had special needs when it comes to healthcare. You would have to get a second job or find a better paying job, which there aren’t many of those around here.”
“If we had been forced to accept those changes, it would have been devastating to people,” said Evans. “You have to have insurance, but people wouldn’t be able to afford it. They would have to make drastic changes in their lives.”
The membership responded in the way the committee had hoped. Momentum for rejection was gaining and the members made it clear they would do whatever it took to get a contract they deserved.
Amentum responded by making a change to their last proposal. One that kept the insurance of the current contract, and even had increases to Sickness and Accident insurance. These changes were enough for the Negotiating Committee to change from a “vote no and strike” to a full endorsement. The membership responded by ratifying the new three-year agreement.
“The membership’s solidarity is what got them this contract,” said Moody. “A lot the credit goes to the entire negotiating team, including the District and the Aerospace Department. Melone Wey was instrumental in getting the team prepared for negotiations.”
“I’m so proud of the membership and leadership of Local 1243,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “They were willing to put the needs of the entire group ahead of individual gains. For this young unit to respond in such a way, after all they have endured, makes us all excited to see what the future holds for these members.”
What was displayed at the negotiating table and on the shop floor was the true definition of selfless unionism. Members who would benefit from a situation, standing in solidarity with those who wouldn’t – defending the union motto of “An injury to one, is an injury to all.”
“We had a very strong committee and a great support staff,” said Harvey. “This was the strongest group I have ever been a part of. When you have people that care about others more than they care about themselves, you’re always going to get good results.”
“Most impressive of the entire process was that we had individuals who were looking at a pay increase due to the new structure, but spoke against the changes because they knew they were elected by the members who wouldn’t want it,” said Moody. “I never got the sense they even let it cross their mind.”
“You have to go in there with everyone’s interest at heart,” said Walker. “If you don’t have a passion for people, you have no business being a union steward or a negotiator.”
While Local 1243 President Harvey is thankful for a new contract, he says there is still much work to do.
“A good contract is nice because it brings calm and peace to everyone, especially in these crazy times,” said Harvey. “I’m not resting though, I’m constantly trying to figure out what I can do to help our members every day.
“In three years we are going to have to negotiate again,” said Walker. “I hope more people will get on board and be more involved because of this. That way we can be even more successful at the table.”
It is with a heavy heart that the IAM announces the passing of our beloved Sister, Grand Lodge Representative Maria Santiago Lillis. Sister Lillis was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She was a mentor to many and a tireless champion for workers’, women, and human rights.
Maria was a great listener with time for her friends and our membership. She was selfless as she was determined and left a lasting positive impression on so many people. She was an influential leader who continually challenged our society to do better and be better, no inch given but a powerful respect and warmth in every encounter.
“Sister Lillis was a true journeywoman in her steadfast dedication to our members,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “Words cannot describe the loss we are all feeling. Sister Lillis and I have worked together for over 20 years, and it was an absolute honor not only to consider her a friend and colleague, but part of my family.”
Sister Lillis was assigned to the State of Hawaii, where she was responsible for overseeing the servicing and organizing activities for IAM Local 1998, along with protecting related interests of the Machinists Union statewide, and on the mainland when required. During her tenor, she helped developed a leadership team that grew the local and raised the standard of living for countless members on the islands. Her leadership bled over to the mainland where she assisted several districts and locals with a transformational approach in developing women’s committees.
“Sister Lillis approached her work with such compassion and grit,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “She not only had tremendous passion for her work, but she did it as effectively as any representative this organization has ever seen. Our union and the countless members she has assisted over the years will solely miss Maria. On behalf of the entire Executive Council, we send our profound thoughts and prayers to her husband Bob, their entire family, and the Western Territory leadership and staff during this incredibly difficult time.”
Formerly from Philadelphia, GLR Lillis’ previous background included community activism and advocacy for Native Hawaiian families. Additionally, she spent 13 years in the private sector in the field of chemical dependency. Maria worked the full range from detox, rehabilitation, counseling, prevention, training professionals, producing training videos, curricula, evaluation tools and consultation, eventually earning promotion to manager.
Sister Lillis is survived by her husband, IAM Local 1998 President Bob Lillis, and her two daughters, Sonia and Ana Lillis.
The IAM Executive Council has voted unanimously to postpone the 40th IAM Grand Lodge Convention, previously scheduled for September 12-17, 2021 in San Diego. The IAM will immediately begin planning for a 2022 Convention and communicate details as soon as possible.
A letter will be sent to Local Lodges soon with further information on delegates and constitutional proposals.
The decision to postpone the Convention was made to protect the safety and health of Convention delegates and guests. Further reasons include:
The IAM’s Canadian delegation would almost certainly be unable to attend the Convention due to current pandemic conditions and restrictions in Canada. Current quarantine requirements for Canadians entering and leaving the United States makes it nearly impossible to seat the Canadian delegation.
Holding a virtual Convention is not an appropriate substitute and deprives delegates of essential events held with an in-person Convention. A virtual Convention also does not support our Brothers and Sisters in the airline and railroad sectors.
Adequate social distancing will not allow us to physically seat every eligible delegate.
California has suggested that a convention of our size may require everyone to be vaccinated or show a negative test. The financial costs and logistics of testing every delegate and guest would be significant.
“Even as we start to return to some level of normalcy, this worldwide pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetimes,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “I am incredibly grateful to the Western Territory Host Committee for all they have done and continue to do to plan for a successful Grand Lodge Convention. While this decision was not made lightly, the safety and health of all the delegates and guests must be first and foremost. We will continue to work toward rescheduling the Convention in 2022.”
“It is unfortunate that the pandemic has prevented us from having a Grand Lodge Convention this year,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “However, we value first and foremost the safety of our Brothers and Sisters. The Western Territory looks forward to hosting a tremendous Grand Lodge Convention in 2022.”