Machinists Make Powerful Return to Capitol Hill Washington, D.C. — Save Machinists Jobs in North Dakota — Wildland Firefighters Receive Life-Changing Pay Increase

Jul 2, 2022 | Machinists On The Hill


Machinists Union Members Make Powerful Return to Capitol Hill at IAM Legislative Conference: IAM members and political activists from across the United States convened in Washington, DC this week for the 2022 IAM Legislative Conference, hearing from allies of the Machinists Union and lobbying members of Congress.

IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr., as well as IAM National Political and Legislative Director Hasan Solomon, welcomed Legislative Conference delegates after a three-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WATCH: Machinists Union Back on Capitol Hill for 2022 IAM Legislative Conference

“We are here this week in Washington, DC so that we can continue to help people live better lives. And we can’t leave what we learn this week here on Capitol Hill,” said Martinez. “You must take this home to explain to our members why we care about legislative issues and how their union is fighting for them.”

Martinez recapped the IAM’s support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, Buy American, defense funding, stiffer penalties for assault on airline customer service agents, and more.

PHOTOS: IAM Legislative Conference Day 1

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the Conference and congratulated Apple employees in Towson, MD for winning their union election to join the IAM. She also called for union members to keep pressure on the Senate to pass the PRO Act.

“Our nation has taken key steps forward, but so much more needs to be done,” said Pelosi. “Nearly half of non-union workers would organize if they could, we have to make sure they have that opportunity.

PHOTOS: IAM Legislative Conference Days 2 and 3

Other speakers and Machinists Union allies at the 2022 IAM Legislative Conference included:

  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD)
  • U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA)
  • U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH)
  • U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ)
  • U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (ME)
  • U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA)
  • U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ)
  • U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA)
  • U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (MN)
  • IAM Aerospace General Vice President Mark Blondin
  • IAM General Counsel Carla Siegel
  • TCU/IAM Vice President and National Legislative Director William DeCarlo
  • NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 National President Randy Erwin

View Social Media Highlights

Hundreds Gather for MNPL Conference: Hundreds of IAM delegates gathered in Washington, DC, to attend the Machinists Non-Partisan Political League (MNPL) conference. MNPL is the political arm of the IAM.

The IAM’s MNPL program was created in 1947 to allow members to gather individual contributions, coordinate political activity, and elect candidates who support IAM members and their families.

“Our power to affect change in Washington, DC and across the country is determined by two things, our strength in numbers and the strength of MNPL, said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It is thanks to the work you do that we are a powerhouse across the nation. The MNPL Committee chairs help drive participation in our State Councils and discuss the political issues that affect our membership.”

The delegates also celebrated the retirement of retired IAM Political Director Rick de la Fuente.

Tell North Dakota’s Elected Officials: Save Machinists Union Jobs at Motor Coach Industries: Approximately 175 IAM Local W384 (District 5) members at Motor Coach Industries (MCI) Pembina, North Dakota plant were told they will be out of work by the end of the year due to the company’s decision to close the facility.

“We were just in shock thinking back to all the things we’ve been told, the broken promises — how we’d never close because we were paid for and have so much to offer this community — things like that,” IAM Lodge W384 President Jennifer Winkler told the Grand Forks (ND) Herald.

Pembina is a very small town. The loss of these 175 family-supporting jobs will have a major impact on its area economy and the surrounding communities.

TELL NORTH DAKOTA’S ELECTED OFFICIALS: Help Us Save Good Machinists Union Jobs at Motor Coach Industries

“We do not agree with the company’s assertion that they were unable to find skilled workers in Pembina,” wrote IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. in a letter to North Dakota’s Senators and U.S. House Representative. “The IAM has also made efforts to meet that demand by offering to partner with the company to recruit and launch apprenticeship programs to meet the workforce needs.”

“MCI plant jobs sustain Pembina. We want to keep the plant open and keep our members working,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “Any support we get for these members will help. We need to show MCI how important this plant is to Pembina’s community and the effect a shutdown would have.”

The IAM’s Legislative and Political team has been speaking with the North Dakota federal congressional delegation and state legislature members to help garner support for workers at the facility and seek potential options that could help keep the facility open.

Members are still holding out hope that the company will decide to keep its plant open. Join us in supporting our brothers and sisters in Pembina by sending a letter to North Dakota’s congressional delegation, asking them to urge the company to reconsider its decision to close the plant.

Federal Wildland Firefighters Across U.S. to Receive Life-Changing Pay Increase: Today, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) applauds a Biden Administration announcement that federal wildland firefighters across the country will soon be receiving a long-awaited pay raise authorized in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. A significant majority of federal wildland firefighters will see their base salary increase by $20,000 annually and receive retroactive pay dating back to October 2021. Additionally, others will receive a 50 percent increase. The initial payments will be disbursed by the end of June, and a second will be made in August, according to the Biden Administration.

“This is incredibly good news for federal wildland firefighters all across the country,” said Randy Erwin, president of NFFE, the union representing a majority of federal wildland firefighters. “There has been a serious recruitment and retention problem for wildland firefighters at federal agencies this year. Firefighters simply could not make ends meet on the hopelessly low salaries offered at federal agencies, so jobs were becoming very difficult to fill. With a worse-than-normal fire season underway, the inability to recruit and retain firefighters is a very serious problem that threatens communities at risk of wildfire. This announcement is going to go a long way to help federal agencies fill depleted ranks. For wildland firefighters, the additional income will give them the opportunity to pay for housing, childcare, and other everyday necessities. This will be life-changing for thousands of federal wildland firefighters who truly deserve it.”

Last year, when President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, NFFE called on the Biden Administration and congressional leaders to ensure the pay increase went into the pockets of wildland firefighters as quickly as possible. In March, a group of NFFE wildland firefighters took to Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers, agency leaders, and Biden Administration officials to explain how dire the situation has become. Earlier this month, NFFE sent a letter to agency leaders calling on them to use their authority under the infrastructure law to immediately increase pay nationwide.

“I am very pleased to see that the Biden Administration got this decision right,” continued President Erwin. “They did the right thing and implemented this pay increase nationwide and as fast as they could. As a consequence, communities are going to be protected and lives are going to be saved. It really is that simple.”

Although this is an important step in improving federal wildland firefighter pay, there is still more to do to address the issue more permanently. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized the creation of a new wildland firefighter job series that can be used to align the pay scale in the federal government more closely with firefighter pay in other sectors. NFFE has had regular discussions with federal agency leaders on this matter and hopes to complete new job series in the next few months. NFFE is also advocating for long-term funding for federal wildland firefighters, as funding for this pay increase will run out in approximately two years according to budget estimates.

“I look forward to continuing to work with President Biden and agency leaders to see that federal wildland firefighters are properly taken care of for protecting our country from the wildfire crisis, which is showing no signs of slowing down,” continued President Erwin. “The pay raise announced today will make a huge difference for firefighters nationwide, and we are appreciative of everyone within the Biden Administration who worked to make this possible. Our sincere thanks go out to President Joe Biden, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and OPM Director Kiran Ahuja, who all played key roles. Federal wildland firefighters will be able to better carry out their missions and provide for their families because of their leadership.

IAM Rail Division Pounds Pavement in Washington, DC: At this week’s 2022 IAM Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, union leaders from TCU, the Carmen Division, and IAM District Lodge 19 amplified our members’ voices by meeting with various elected officials from across the federal government. Our railroaders spoke at length with leaders from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Surface Transportation Board, and Congress.

Conference attendees heard speeches in the mornings from some of the most powerful leaders in Washington, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Sherrod Brown, and many others.

In the afternoons, railroaders took to the Hill to talk about our issues.

From local to national matters, all issues were on the table. Railroaders blasted the so-called “Precision Scheduled Railroading” business model that’s cost the jobs of 45,000 railroaders over the past 6 years, and the associated service declines. They talked about safety issues in our yards and the locomotive and car shops. They spoke about how elected officials can better address assault prevention on our nation’s transit and passenger rail systems.

And, importantly, our members discussed ongoing national freight rail negotiations and the need to get all railroaders a raise and a fair contract!

Some of the highlighted meetings included:
• Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure (D, OR-2nd)
• Jennifer Mitchell, FRA Deputy Administrator
• Robert Primus, Surface Transportation Board
• Senator Deb Fischer (Nebraska)
• Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D, CA-34th)
• Top staff from the Senate Commerce Committee
• And many others…

“I’m proud of our local and division leaders for pounding the pavement on Capitol Hill this week,” said TCU President Artie Maratea. “Our folks were able to speak directly to the key leaders that can change our member’s lives for the better – and THAT is what being a union is all about.”

TCU Nat. Vice President & Legislative Director Bill DeCarlo addressed the entire Legislative Conference on Wednesday morning:
“…Since taking the role at TCU, we’ve had one mission: Build.

Build our union’s power. Build support amongst our membership. Build a Legislative program that ensures we can punch above our weight.

The great turnout for this Conference is evidence of the progress we’ve made, and we will continue to build our power in Washington, DC, and continue to live up to the legendary reputation of the ‘Fighting Machinists’…”

For the first time, TCU and the Carmen Division joined forces with our brothers from the IAM’s District Lodge 19 under the umbrella of the newly-created IAM Rail Division. “I’m so proud of our TCU and District 19 guys stepping up to help represent our Rail Division in DC,” said Josh Hartford, Special Assistant to the International President, IAM Rail Division. “And I want to thank the TCU Legislative team for their tireless efforts on behalf of all railroaders. Bill DeCarlo and Dave Arouca are a force in Washington, and we need their expertise now more than ever if we’re going to get our members a fair contract.”

Railroaders got to meet a few leaders that have been rockstars as of late, including T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio, who has long challenged the Class 1 railroads for their endless greed and treatment of their workforce. “Chairman DeFazio was the first person on Capitol Hill to really get it. He knows how this PSR model is hurting our railroads, rail service, and rail workers. Our guys were extremely glad to finally meet the one of the leaders that’s really chastizing the Class 1 CEOs,” said Don Grissom, Asst. General President of TCU’s Carmen Division. [In case you missed it, Grissom testified last week before the House Railroads, Pipelines and HazMat Subcommittee hearing on freight rail safety.]

STB Board Member Robert Primus also talked with our railroaders. Primus recently went viral amongst rank-and-file railroaders when he had a testy exchange with CSX CEO Jim Foote at the STB’s “Urgent Issues in Freight Rail Service” hearing in April.

“These days, a lot of these CEOs run their railroads through fear, because a scared employee is an obedient employee,” said Greg Kocialski, TCU’s National Rep. covering CSX clerical and intermodal properties. “So it’s no surprise that Primus’ exchange with Jim Foote became legendary amongst railroaders. Our members have been through hell and back during COVID, deemed essential frontline workers from the get-go – but all the railroads have offered is stricter discipline, massive forced overtime and a $600 payday loan.”

Every Legislative Conference attendee contributed valuably to the week’s events and meetings: from Rudy Herrera telling his story to the FRA; Greg Burnett talking National Negotiations with Rep. Rick Larsen; Jason Cox detailing car inspection times with Sen. Sherrod Brown; and Josh Cox (no relation) bringing Nebraskan machinists issues home to Sen. Fischer and the entire State delegation.

As one staffer mentioned, “it’s truly amazing to see the range of accents from across the country – but you’re all telling the same story.”

Indeed, our shared plight is our shared fight. So let’s keep up that fight in DC and at home!

Machinists Union Applauds House Committee Approval of Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act: The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) applauds the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for approving the Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 7321). The bipartisan legislation, introduced by committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), would strengthen Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of commercial airline repair facilities outside the United States.

The panel’s action advances the legislation for full House floor consideration of DeFazio’s bill, which would include measures such as unannounced FAA inspections of foreign repair stations, and set minimum qualifications for mechanics and other workers, including drug testing and background checks.

“Our hard-working members take pride in making sure their work at carriers such as American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and others focuses on safety regulations set by the federal government,” said IAM Air Transport General Vice President Richard Johnsen. “It’s only fair that their counterparts working at facilities overseas abide by such high U.S. standards.”

The IAM is the largest airline union in North America, representing over 100,000 airline workers.

“I want to thank Chairman DeFazio for introducing this very important legislation that will help ensure airline passenger safety is a top priority globally,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr. “The lack of uniform regulatory standards and oversight sets an unlevel field with carriers increasingly enticed by the financial incentives to push this work overseas. This results in job losses in the U.S. and risks passenger safety.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 900 aircraft maintenance and repair stations have been certified by the FAA outside the U.S., which includes countries such as China, Singapore and Brazil.

TCU Carman Assistant General President Don Grissom Testifies Before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I): In a T&I Committee meeting titled “Examining Freight Rail Safety”, TCU Carman Assistant General President Don Grissom testified about the challenges currently facing the Carman division at worksites across the country.

The speakers in the hearing included:

  • Amit Bose – Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
  • Thomas B. Chapman – Member, National Transportation Safety Board
  • Don Grissom – Assistant General President, Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division; TCU/IAM
  • Roy L. Morrison – Director of Safety, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division; International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Jeremy Ferguson – President, Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation-Transportation Division

View Don Grissom’s testimony below.

Assistant General President Grissom focused on the skills and training of Carmen saying, “Upon hiring, a Carman Apprentice spends 732 working days (6 different 122-day phases) to become a Journeyman. During this time, a Carman becomes highly skilled at inspecting and repairing rail cars. Importantly, Carmen acquire many skill-sets on the job that can be utilized outside the industry, such as metal-working, welding, and fabrication.”

Even with their extensive training and experience of Carmen in the freight industry, they are being told to bypass safety in exchange for speed. Brother Grissom said, “All of this pressure is dictated by corporate leadership and executed by regional or local management. Even when local managers know what they’re doing to their employees is wrong or unsafe (since they came off the crafts themselves), they’re forced to make our members‘ lives miserable under penalty of their own termination.”

“That is the life of a Carman in the PSR era. It’s the only career I’m aware of where they train you to do a job, then fire you for doing it.”

Click here to read Don Grissom’s full testimony.

National Mediation Board Releases IAM, TCU/IAM, BRC, and All Rail Unions From Stalled Negotiations with Rail Carriers: After more than two years of fruitless negotiations with the various class 1 railroads and after three weeks of in-person meetings in Washington, DC, the National Mediation Board has offered arbitration to rail unions, including the IAM, Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) and TCU/IAM Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC) members.

All unions in our coalition plan to reject the arbitration offer, which under the Railway Labor Act sets the stage for President Biden to appoint a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to hear the dispute.

“After three years of needless stalling from rail carriers, the National Mediation Board has found that a voluntary agreement is simply not possible,” said TCU/IAM National President Arthur Maratea. “We look forward to continuing to advocate forcefully for our membership in this new stage of negotiations.”

“Our skilled and dedicated membership has worked tirelessly, through a pandemic and without a raise, to keep our nation’s rail system moving,” said Josh Hartford, IAM Special Assistant to the IAM International President. “We will work side by side with every rail union to obtain the best possible agreement for our membership.”

More information will be provided to the membership as soon as it is available.

Machinists Union Urges U.S. Senators to Support Richard L. Trumka PRO Act:
IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. wrote a letter to U.S. Senators urging them to support a Senate floor vote of the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 842, S.420).
The Richard L. Trumka PRO Act passed by the House in 2021 puts workers first and strengthens the rights of workers to join and participate in a labor union.

Read the letter: Machinists Union Urges Support for PRO Act  
“As you may know, this legislation modernizes our federal labor law and establishes a process for mediation and arbitration to help the parties achieve a first contract,” IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr., said in the letter to U.S. Senators. “It protects workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages and better benefits. The PRO Act would override state so-called “right to work” laws, which are simply designed to give more power to corporations at the expense of workers.”
The Richard L. Trumka PRO Act will:

  • Create pathways for workers to form unions without fear of 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

New Machinists Union Report Analyzes State of the Aerospace Industry, Charts Future for Growth: This week, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), North America’s largest aerospace labor union, released a new detailed report analyzing the state of the aerospace industry in the United States. The report calls for a national aerospace strategy created by the government, private industry, and labor unions to maintain its standing as a world leader in the high-tech and high-skilled aerospace industry.

The report, “Rising Potential: An IAMAW Proposal for a U.S. Aerospace Strategy,” comes two years after one of the worst periods for the aerospace industry. Machinists Union members were among many workers in the aerospace industry who experienced layoffs and furloughs because of COVID-19. While air travel dropped significantly during that period, so did the need for parts, repairs, modifications, and other services, hurting aerospace supply chain companies.

For decades, the IAMAW has been the largest union in the aerospace industry. IAM members in all sectors assemble civilian and military aircraft, build missiles and rockets, manufacture parts and components, and provide maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services.

“Rising Potential: An IAMAW Proposal for a U.S. Aerospace Strategy” is a detailed report that provides an overview of the aerospace industry in the U.S., including international comparisons with some main competitors. It also outlines recommendations to address challenges and improve the nation’s foothold in the aerospace industry.

“The IAM has significantly contributed to making the aerospace industry dominant throughout the world,” said IAM Aerospace General Vice President Mark Blondin. “The contracts we have negotiated for our members continue to make this a sought-after career for many, especially our military veterans. Our members build the best products in the world, and it is only fitting that we help guide the national strategy for the aerospace industry. As one of the few core manufacturing sectors left not entirely ravaged by pro-corporate trade deals, it is of the utmost importance to preserve and expand the industry so it remains a reliable source of middle-class union jobs.”

“The IAM is proud of the research put into this report to help identify the aerospace and defense industry as a major economic engine for the American economy,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Our documentation helps cement our role as the working men and women who help make the industry thrive. For far too long, corporate executives and profiteers have monopolized our iconic industry, squeezing the public and weakening worker bargaining power. To maintain our standing in the world, we must provide the proper investment in the training of future aerospace workers. The IAM welcomes any partners who are willing to help achieve the goal of rebuilding our supply chains and creating jobs here at home.”

Key recommendations from “Rising Potential: An IAMAW Proposal for a U.S. Aerospace Strategy”:

  • Strengthen “Buy American” requirements to meaningfully ensure American tax dollars contribute to the American economy and preference union workers in the federal procurement process
  • Invest in training and registered apprenticeship programs 
  • Regulate offsets to protect our technological advantage, and prevent companies from agreeing to short-sighted deals with competitor nations 
  • Strengthen Rules of Origin to level the playing field and reduce the use of low-wage workers overseas, which undercut American workers 
  • Strengthen a fully functioning Ex-Im Bank to support domestic exporters
  • End the interstate race to the bottom that pits states and struggling localities against each other to offer ever-larger corporate subsidy packages
  • Increase federal funding for FAA Inspectors to promote the safety of the flying public
  • Encourage manufacturers to require FAA’s Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)
  • Draft worker-focused trade policies that dissuade offshoring of U.S. aerospace jobs
  • Bolster public and private investment in Aerospace research and development 

Machinists Union Urges President Biden to Appoint IAM Maine Lobstermen to Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team: The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) wrote a letter on behalf of IAM Maine Lobstering Union (MLU) Local 207, urging President Biden to allow IAM Local 207 a seat on the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (ALWTRT).  

Having a seat on the ALWTRT will allow IAM Local 207 commercial lobstermen fishermen an opportunity to help develop regulations being developed by members of the ALWTRT. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are responsible for appointing members to the ALWTRT.

In a September 2020 campaign visit, Dr. Jill Biden met with union lobstermen and heard the challenges facing the men and women in the lobster industry.

“Local 207, which is the only labor organization composed solely of commercial lobstermen fishermen, has been denied membership on the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (ALWTRT), which is tasked with developing regulations for the American Lobster fishery that will protect the right whale,” IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr., said in the letter to President Biden. “Local 207’s exclusion from the ALWTRT has been in direct, punitive response to ongoing litigation between Local 207’s Union fishermen and NOANNMFS regarding the closure of 967 square miles of fishing grounds in the Gulf of Maine. While each and every other stakeholder in the fishery, from scientists to trade associations and conservation groups, is represented on the ALWTRT, only Local 207 has been excluded.

IAM Maine Lobstering Union (MLU) Local 207 is not seeking the Administration’s intervention in the ongoing battle between the lobster industry and federal regulators. IAM Local 207 just wants a seat and a voice on the ALWTRT.

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