IAM Fighting for Historic Investments for Working Families–Strength on Display at Eastern States Conference–Shutdown Averted

Oct 27, 2021 | Machinists On The Hill

MACHINISTS UNION FIGHTING FOR HISTORIC INVESTMENTS FOR WORKING FAMILIES AND CRUCIAL INDUSTRIESRobert Martinez Jr., International President of the 600,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the largest aerospace, defense, and transportation union in North America, released the following statement in full support of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Build Back Better Act:

“The IAM was instrumental in helping pass the American Rescue Plan and other rescue packages to help keep our members employed and their families secure. But these were temporary fixes to a problem that needs a permanent solution. The IAM supports the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better Act. Both pieces of legislation will provide historic investment for the airline, transit, aerospace, manufacturing, and other critical industries.

Build Back Better is transformative for families, with the Child Tax Credit, child care, home health care, paid family and medical leave, universal pre-K, workforce development, and more. Corporations have been on the receiving end of corporate tax cuts and other special giveaways for too long. We need legislation that will embrace a pro-worker, pro-democracy agenda that provides millions of working families the opportunity to better wages and benefits. 

“The infrastructure package will finally strengthen Buy America rules to help boost our domestic manufacturing sectors.   Our union fought to include the most significant federal investment in public transit and passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak. Our transportation sector will benefit through the modernization projects created through the robust funding provided in this infrastructure package. This investment will help our vital manufacturing and transportation sectors build back better.

“Our union is dedicated to reversing the trend of an economy that serves the wealthiest and most prominent corporations so that working families can live a better life with decent wages and benefits.”

IAM STRENGTH ON DISPLAY AT EASTERN STATES CONFERENCE OF MACHINISTS: The IAM continues to grow stronger, win industry-leading contracts and fights, and offer new services to its members. That was the message at the recent IAM Eastern States Conference of Machinists, held in Queens, NY.

The conference brought together delegates, staff and officers from Maryland to Maine to Michigan and states in between.

“The political activism of the Eastern Territory has delivered victory after victory to our membership and working families,” said E. Michael Vartabedian, Eastern States Conference of Machinists President and IAM District 15 Assistant Directing Business Representative. “Together, we are mobilized and ready to elect worker-friendly candidates across the Eastern Territory.”

The conference showcased ongoing battles such as the fight for a first contract for workers at Cascades Containerboard in Niagara Falls, NY. The conference also recognized Local S6 (District 4) members at Bath Iron Works for its historic summer 2020 strike that protected good IAM Maine jobs.

Organizing is a top priority for the Eastern Territory, as evidenced by a recent organizing win and first contract at Seneca Foods in New York.

Delegates also thanked retired General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr., who retired from this post leading the Eastern Territory in July after more than 40 years of IAM membership.

“The Eastern Territory is poised to grow and fight for our membership like never before,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “Thanks to the stewardship of Brother Conigliaro, this Territory is ready to hit the ground running and take on any employer or politician. I know that the growing Eastern Territory Grand Lodge staff is going to accomplish great things for our membership.”

International President Robert Martinez Jr. thanked attendees for being on the frontlines for IAM members throughout the pandemic. Martinez also highlighted a new women’s leadership program and a soon-to-released initiative to assist members who are U.S. military service veterans with filing VA claims.

“Many of the biggest victories in our union over the past few years have come out of the Eastern Territory,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “I want you all to know that our union is united, speaking with one voice and winning for our membership.”

MACHINISTS UNION MAKES BIG GAINS IN THE 2022 NDAA: The IAM successfully lobbied for the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund military programs. Together, the programs support more than 100,000 IAM aerospace, defense, and shipbuilding jobs.

The final version of the NDAA included Buy American House-passed language, championed by the IAM and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ). This provision will strengthen Buy American rules to help boost our domestic manufacturing sectors.

“Our union fought to enhance our nation’s military programs to improve U.S. national security and grow the number of high-skilled jobs for our members in the aerospace defense and shipbuilding industries,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “We also applaud the efforts of Rep. Norcross to help strengthen our country’s defense industrial base and domestic supply chain by including the Buy American rules in the 2022 NDAA.”

Thanks to the IAM’s lobbying efforts, the 2022 NDAA authorizes funding for the following IAM-built and maintained programs:

  • Defense Spending top line:  The IAM supported, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $25 billion increase in the Department of Defense spending.  This House vote paves the way for $740 billion budget for the Pentagon next year since the Senate Armed Services Committee has already backed that spending level in its version of the bill.  This is $25 billion more than the $715 billion proposed by the administration’s budget request.
  • Increase in Buy American Requirement: The House passed IAM/Rep. Norcross’s championed language to increase the Buy American domestic content percentage requirement from 55% to 75% for all future Major Defense Acquisition Programs.  The language will gradually ramp up the percentage from 55% to 75% by 1/1/2029. 
  • F-35 program:  The 2022 NDAA authorizes funding for 80 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The IAM Legislative team is aggressively lobbying the Senate to increase the number in its version for this vitally important defense program.

  • Rep Golden’s amendment for MYP Destroyer contractThe House passed IAM/Rep. Golden’s championed language to authorize a new multi-year procurement (MYP) contract to purchase 15 Flight III DDG-51 destroyers over 5 years beginning in 2023. With the current MYP contract set to expire in FY22, there was no scheduled ship procurement plan to ensure enduring workforce stability and skill retention. This new MYP contract is needed to ensure consistent funding for the DDG-51 program in order to properly equip our U.S. Navy and to promote the heath of the U.S. shipbuilding industry.
  • National Security Space Launches(NSSL): The NDAA also authorizes $1.4 billion for national security space launches. United Launch Alliance (ULA), with IAM members in AL, FL, and CA, is one of only two NSSL launch providers.

    SHUTDOWN AVERTED: U.S. Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avert a lapse in government funding. The funding was set to expire, at midnight on October 8, but the CR eventually passed and was signed by President Biden, eliminating the possibility of a government shutdown. The bill will keep the federal government funded through December 3rd, 2021.

    “We are pleased that leaders in Congress recognize the harmful consequences of a lapse in appropriations and have taken action to avert a shutdown,” said NFFE/IAM National President Randy Erwin. “Our union is urging the House and Senate to come to an agreement well ahead of the next deadline in early December to avoid the possibility of a shutdown. Lapses of funding are a costly waste of taxpayer money. Government shutdowns can also be devastating to hard-working federal employees who have had to go weeks without a paycheck in previous years. Government shutdowns are harmful for federal workers, as well as the country as a whole. We need to stop cutting these things so close. The American people deserve better than this.”

    SUPREME COURT WON’T HEAR CASES SEEKING TO GUT AIRLINE, RAILROAD UNION POWER: In a victory for the IAM and transportation union members across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear two cases that sought to bring anti-union, so-called “right-to-work” laws to the airlines and railroads.

    The cases sought to extend the landmark Janus ruling, which allowed public sector workers to receive the benefits of union representation without paying union dues, to airline and railroad workers who are under the Railway Labor Act.

    The IAM, the largest transportation labor union in North America, vigorously fought both cases.

    The Supreme Court’s dismissal is another defeat for conservative, anti-worker groups like the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which represented the workers seeking to gut union representation in the airline and railroad industries.

    “This is a huge victory for IAM Transportation members,” said Richard Johnsen, Chief of Staff to the International President. “This dismissal means that, once again, the enemies of working people will not get in our way. We look forward to continuing to grow our power for airline and railroad workers from coast to coast.”

    The IAM’s strength in the airline and railroad industries has been evidenced by continued industry-leading contracts and unprecedented relief for working families during the pandemic.

    “The IAM is the most powerful voice in the world for airline and railroad workers,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “The IAM Transportation Department and the IAM Legal Department are to be commended for fighting and winning against these anti-union forces.”

    VIRGINIA STATE COUNCIL OF MACHINISTS CONVENE FOR FALL MEETING: Delegates from across Virginia gathered in Roanoke recently for the Virginia State Council of Machinists fall meeting. Discussions at the biannual meeting focused on the importance of the upcoming elections and the Machinists Union’s vital role in getting the vote out.

    “The council did a great job addressing a variety of labor issues, including presentations outlining how high member participation in the upcoming elections could shape the future of the labor movement in the state,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “This election will have a lasting effect on working people in Virginia, and we must support Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe, who champions the same principles the IAM fights for every day.”

    The Virginia State Council of Machinists also endorsed Hala Ayala (D) for Lieutenant Governor and Mark Herring (D) for state Attorney General. 

    WATCH: Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe speaking to the Virginia State Council of Machinists

    Members attending the Virginia State Council meeting heard how the Machinists Non-Partisan Political League(MNPL) helps strengthen our union and state councils. The voluntary donations to the MNPL help us get pro-union candidates up and down the ballot elected in hopes of implementing a pro-worker, pro-democracy agenda in the state. Increasing contributions to the MNPL will be a big push for the Virginia State Council now and in the upcoming future.

    “This year’s Virginia State Council meeting allowed us to educate members about some of the pressing issues we have in our state,” said Virginia State Council of Machinists President Larry Battle. “During the council meeting, we spent a good majority of time explaining “Campaign in a Box,” our get out the vote program to mobilize our members for the 2021 November elections. We stressed the importance of working to elect candidates who will fight on behalf of working Virginians. The Virginia State Council of Machinists is working to implement a pro-worker platform that focuses on workers’ rights issues, increasing jobs training opportunities, and fighting to eliminate so-called right-to-work laws in our state.”

    Vice-President Charles Mann will be the incoming president for the upcoming year. Other members of the Virginia State Executive Council include:

    Daniel Mason, recording secretary

    Linda Henderson, secretary-treasurer

    Charlie Long, eastern regional director

    Bob Key, central regional director

    Bill Pierce, northern regional director

    Phyllis Butterworth, western regional director

    The Virginia Machinist Council, founded in 1942, is the political and education arm of the IAMAW in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Council works on behalf of all working families through involvement in our members’ political process and education.

    U.S. LABOR SECRETARY MEETS WITH REP. GOLDEN, MAINE SENATE PRESIDENT JACKSON, AND NEW ENGLAND LOGGERS COOPERATIVE: The IAM recently participated in a meeting at the Maine State House to address the challenges facing loggers and wood-haulers in northern Maine. The discussion with Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02), New England Loggers Cooperative, and U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh centered around the misuse of foreign labor by employers in the northern Maine woods and finding ways to help improve the lives of those who make their living from harvesting the forest products of northern Maine.

    “It feels good to get some attention on some of the issues we face in the Maine logging industry,” said New England Loggers Cooperative member Dana Gardner. I look forward to hearing solutions for the problems facing loggers and wood-haulers in northern Maine. It will take a lot of work to make the necessary changes to ensure the people doing most of the work get their fair share.

    “I appreciate the Secretary of Labor meeting with me, Senate President Jackson, and Maine loggers and truck drivers today to discuss ways the federal government can address unfair labor and trade practices from Canada,” said Rep. Golden. “We look forward to partnering with Secretary Walsh to address these issues and help protect American logging and trucking jobs.”

    President Jackson has introduced several pieces of legislation to protect Maine trucking jobs and penalize offending companies for breaking the law, including a new state law that takes effect October 18. In addition, he has written to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, and the Department of Labor. Last summer, he filed a complaint against the Department of Labor for failing to enforce federal cabotage laws.

     “For years, Maine loggers and wood-haulers have raised the alarm about the misuse of foreign labor by large landowners and trucking companies. It seems clear that this practice violates federal law by adversely affecting the wages, working conditions, and job opportunities for folks trying to make a decent living in the Maine woods,” said President Jackson. “The fact that Labor Secretary Walsh took the time to meet with us today and talk directly with those harmed by this injustice really means a lot. I’m hopeful that it will lead to further action by the federal government.”

    “The IAM appreciates the opportunity to discuss the issues in the logging industry with individuals who stand with labor,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “Our team in the Eastern Territory is dedicated to working to help achieve justice for the loggers and make real changes to the industry. Our collective efforts will create increased power for the workers in Maine.”

    IAM TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT OFFERS SOLUTIONS TO HELP THWART PASSENGER VIOLENCE AGAINST AIRLINE GROUND CREWS: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is tapping the IAM and other labor unions for guidance on new measures to help combat the recent rise in passenger violence, an issue with growing public attention due in-part to a string of viral videos documenting the incidents. 

    The FAA recently held a roundtable discussion with the IAM and several other unions representing airline workers. The IAM, the largest airline union in North America, has been a staunch advocate for increased safety measures for the workforce. The IAM was successful with including language in the FAA reauthorization bill to address assaults on customer service agents, which now awaits FAA full implementation.

    The union has been part of other recent federal agency roundtable discussions about airline worker safety, as well as the IAM supporting U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) for urging the agency to take swift actions like civil enforcement and steep fines to help thwart the growing number of assaults on airline employees.

    DeFazio’s correspondence to the FAA also referenced the agency’s own data showing steep increases in air rage incidents subject to enforcement this year. There have been 628 such incidents in 2021 as of August 6, nearly twice the previous peak of 310 in 2004.

    The FAA’s recent roundtable included IAM Transportation Coordinator Edison Fraser, who urged the agency to also focus on ground crews like customer service agents, often overlooked in comparison to flight crew members like pilots and flight attendants.

    “These are workers like ticket agents who are the first contact for people who enter the airport,” Fraser said. “There’s been a lot of focus on the flight crew, but the safety of the ground crew is equally important. These are hard-working men and women who deserve the same protections.”

    Enforcement and Education

    Enforcing facemask mandates has spurred some violent incidents. The task of ensuring passengers comply with the mandate should not solely fall on the shoulders of customer service agents, but also be enforced by TSA agents “which would be no different than when they enforced unattended bags,” Fraser said.

    Fraser also urged the federal agency to remedy loopholes in jurisdictions between federal and local law enforcement, an issue that comes into play when pursuing and prosecuting a person after they leave the airport grounds following a violent incident.

    Fraser also urged the FAA to do more to educate the public that assaulting airline workers is a federal crime.

    “There was a lot of education after the 9/11 attacks, such as public address announcements and even billboards alerting people to be aware of and report suspicious bags or activity,” Fraser said. “We can do the same public awareness, which explains that assaulting an airline worker is a federal crime.”

    The FAA roundtable marked just the latest outreach effort by IAM’s Transportation division in recent months.

    In July, Chief of Staff to the International President Richard Johnsen took part in an Aviation Labor Recovery Roundtable call with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and U.S. Transportation Department Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg.

    Johnsen then urged participants on the call to share the union’s urgency to address low staffing to increase safety and protection of workers.

    Workers Demand Safety

    Johnsen and Fraser have also been fielding questions and concerns about safety from members in recent months as they’ve been holding a series of site visits across the U.S.

    The visits, part of a new IAM Transportation Department program, has been the key to gaining the first-hand concerns of members from coast-to-coast.

    “These are hard-working men and women who have been on the frontlines since the COVID-19 pandemic started. They work tirelessly to help ensure passengers get to their destination safely,” Johnsen said. “These workers deserve the upmost safety while doing their job. Our top priority is to keep fighting to make sure every member is safe on the job.”

    “Our members deserve the right to work in an environment where they can focus on great customer service, not fear of being attacked by passengers,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr. “We are proud to be shaping policies that will ultimately help ensure our hard-working members are protected on the job.”

    AEROSPACE WORKERS SHOULD PILOT FUTURE OF A GREAT AMERICAN INDUSTRYIAM District 751 President Jon Holden wrote an op-ed in the Seattle Times on the future of the Aerospace industry. This op-ed originally appeared in the Seattle Times:  

    September marked the 86th anniversary of the beginning of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751. The district came together to fight for dignity and fairness, resulting in the first labor agreement with Boeing one year later, in 1936.

    The fight wasn’t just about Boeing. It was a battle to ensure that our union and Washington state would grow the aerospace industry, significantly impacting generations of working families through good-paying jobs and benefits. Today, IAM District 751 represents more than 26,000 workers in the aerospace industry.

    Our industry is facing many challenges ahead. Challenges that existed before the onset of a pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the aerospace industry. Last year at this time, thousands of workers in our state were unclear about their future, and some suffered the worst fate from the pandemic. More than 100,000 aerospace jobs were lost last year, many of them in our state. The aerospace industry is vitally important to our national security, our domestic supply chain, and our state’s economy.

    The leadership of the IAM, along with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and the rest of the Washington congressional delegation, spearheaded efforts to pass legislation to provide much-needed relief and help prevent even worse layoffs to workers in the aerospace manufacturing and maintenance, overhaul and repair industries.

    The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act, part of the American Rescue Plan relief legislation passed by Congress, provided $3 billion in payroll support funding to aviation manufacturers, allowing them to keep tens of thousands of aerospace manufacturing workers on their payrolls.

    The Seattle Times recently reported that the Biden administration has issued $482 million from this relief legislation available to aviation industry manufacturers, to help them avert job or pay cuts in the pandemic. That includes $41 million to aerospace companies in our state. According to The Times, the largest recipient of the funds is Spirit AeroSystems, an IAM-represented company and a major Boeing supplier based in Kansas, which stands to receive $75.5 million that the government says will help protect 3,214 jobs.

    As a result of this legislation and other actions, the Washington economy is rebounding. But we have to ask ourselves, where do we go from here?

    The Washington congressional delegation and the IAM continue working on solutions to secure the aerospace workforce for the future and protect one of our last great manufacturing industries.

    The Washington state aerospace industry has been essential for the renewed growth of the Washington economy. It is a $70 billion industry with more than 130,000 workers and supporting more than 250,000 jobs, according to the Washington Commerce Department.

    We need to reassess the future of the last great American industry and ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to sustain our aerospace industry. We have heard from the Biden-Harris administration about their commitment to building back better. We know our congressional delegation has diligently worked to push through legislation to improve the aerospace industry. 

    They kept their promise by delivering a “Build Back Better” plan to Congress that will impact generations of America’s working families by creating good union jobs that offer solid wages and benefits. Buy American rules included in that package will strengthen our U.S. aerospace industry and increase good-paying union jobs.

    But we remain concerned that companies continue to transfer U.S. technology overseas and to move American jobs offshore. In a recent roundtable discussion with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and other area labor leaders, I called for immediate Chinese recertification of the IAM-built Boeing 737 MAX. I also outlined concerns over China’s growing aerospace footprint.

    We stressed the importance of focusing efforts on worker-centered trade policy and sounding the alarm on transferring U.S. technology and jobs to China if we want to continue holding on to our No. 1 ranking in aerospace sales, exports, profits and employment. Chinese government subsidies to its aerospace industry create an unfair playing field.

    We pledge to do our part to stay No. 1 in the world by investing in our state’s workforce and figuring out what role Washington aerospace workers will play in emerging technologies to reduce emissions in the aviation sector through improvements in aircraft technology and fuels and operational improvements.

    We need to make sure that all efforts in this area are designed, engineered and built in the United States. These improvements should center on the U.S. aerospace industry and include good, middle-class jobs in all our communities. We also can ensure that research and development, test and evaluation of sustainable aviation technology remain here in the U.S. We should not see our technology given away to other countries for aircraft sales, creating competent competitors.

    IAM District 751 has repeatedly called for an increase in registered apprenticeship programs. We were excited to receive a $10 million grant dedicated to training the next generation of aerospace workers while allowing greater access to women, people of color, military veterans and younger workers. These programs have the infrastructure to make sure that the skills learned are well-rounded and transferrable to many industries so that a worker can use them anywhere in the country.

    Moving these solutions forward is how to build a better future that makes our state’s economy soar while protecting Washington state aerospace workers’ rights to organize, be safe at work and achieve economic justice.

    Jon Holden joined the Machinists Union (IAM) after being hired as a materials management specialist at Boeing’s Everett plant more than 24 years ago. He was elected president of IAM District 751 in 2014, representing more than 26,000 workers at Boeing and workers at aerospace suppliers, health care facilities and other industries.

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