International Association of Machinists President Bob Martinez says it’s a new day with a new vision for the Union as it refocuses resources on organizing and membership services while working to foster a more united culture.
“We’re putting our vision of a stronger Union and a strong, united membership into action,” Martinez told delegates at the IAM’s recent staff conference in National Harbor, MD. “I believe we’ll bring a vision of unity and fight back to the ranks of our great Union.”
The IAM’s future begins and ends with growing the organization, said Martinez. Organizing strategies of the past are simply not working anymore because employers and anti-union consultants have become too familiar with the IAM’s strategies.
IAM organizers gathered at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center last month to begin formulating a more flexible organizing approach.
“We’re entering a historic journey to change our strategy, our culture and the way we think about organizing,” said Martinez.
Martinez says part of that culture change means a tougher stance toward employers who attack the IAM’s membership.
He called for an end to long-term collective bargaining agreements without strict job security language.
The IAM has put service contractors on notice that the Union will fight their bids for government work if they disrespect Machinists at the bargaining table, especially if they’re coming after defined benefit pension plans, Martinez said.
“We must protect, defend and preserve our members in all sectors against corporations, politicians, anti-union and firms or anyone else who wishes to hurt our membership and our Union,” said Martinez. “We must stand up and fight.”
IAM PLEDGES TO STOP TRUMP
The IAM must also fight the rise of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who is talking the talk on trade, but is “one of the most anti-union candidates in history,” Martinez said.
Trump’s actions speak louder than his words: He exploits cheap labor from Mexico and China instead of keeping jobs in the U.S.
Trump would gut or get rid of federal agencies like the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board and appoint anti-labor officials throughout the government and Supreme Court. Social Security and federal workers would have a target on their backs.
It’s up to IAM members and their State Councils to ensure Trump is stopped, and that IAM-endorsed candidate Hillary Clinton is elected the next president of the United States, said Martinez.
PUT THE FIGHT BACK IN 'FIGHTING MACHINISTS'
Delegates broke into territorial meetings and gathered to hear more details on political issues from U.S. Legislative Director Hasan Solomon and Canadian Legislative Director Gord Falconer, who it was announced will become Canadian Chief of Staff once Stan Pickthall replaces Dave Ritchie as General Vice President, effective May 1, 2016.
“I am not naïve enough to think that this vision of unity and fight will happen overnight, but I am convinced that if we cut costs and refocus resources and assets into a new organizing strategy and new membership programs, that we will grow our great Union and put the fight back into the Fighting Machinists,” said Martinez.
IAM District 9 Directing Business Representative Mark Conner said he is proud of the long-standing support and involvement of District 9 membership, but says in today’s political, anti-union climate, taking the quiet way is not the best way.
“It’s time for us to really take a stand and let all of these anti-union fanatics out there know that we are strong; we are one,” Conner said. “We have reached a point in history where the war against organized labor is real, and Union members everywhere need to remember and realize the importance of strength in numbers.”
Conner said although District 9 members are solid Union members, there is more to be done, and we can no longer stand silently.
“It’s time for all Union members to realize that unless we move in lock-step, fighting to keep our hard-fought working conditions, wages and benefits, we’ll lose it all,” Conner said. “There’s a very strong force out there that wants to crush our ability to collectively bargain. We can’t let that happen.”
He added, “And…What on earth will we do if Trump and his anti-union ideas end up in the White House? That’s why we need to mobilize, speak out and fight for what we deserve, before anything like that happens.”