International President Robert Martinez Jr. opened the 40th IAM Grand Lodge Convention with a rousing keynote address, setting the tone for a transformative week for the Machinists Union.
This is the first time the entire union has gathered as one in six years, after having to delay the 40th Grand Lodge Convention by two years because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Martinez highlighted how Machinists members and staff rallied to get vital legislation passed that directly helped air-transport, aerospace, and rail members with billions of dollars in aid when travel was halted.
“Our members were essential before the pandemic, they were essential during the pandemic and they will continue to be essential long after the pandemic,” said Martinez. “If anyone had any doubts about the strength of our union, just look at what we have accomplished when our members needed us most.”
Calling attention to the massive organizing wins the Machinists Union has achieved, Martinez highlighted historic campaigns that brought 450 Baltimore County Public Library workers, 75 Milwaukee Art Museum workers, 400 Lufthansa Technik workers, 130 veterinary specialists, 2,400 Canadian health care workers, 100 health care workers in New Mexico, Apple retail store workers, and New York architects into the union.
“Sisters and Brothers, we are living in a moment in time when public support of unions is the highest it’s been since 1965,” said Martinez. “Millions of workers across North America would join a union today if they could. We must have more organizers and to do that we must fund it. I need your support this week to hire an ARMY of organizers to grow this union like never before.”
President Martinez also emphasized successes in the union’s programs, some that are the first of their kind:
- The IAM is the first union to fully handle filing Veterans Affairs claims for members who are veterans through the Veterans Services Program.
- The LEADS Program is designed to continue the advancement of IAM women by offering new pathways to leadership through education and career training at the W3 Center.
- The IAM Addiction Services Program, under the direction of Vinny Ceraso, has saved countless lives with a 24-hour hotline.
- The world-class IAM Employee Assistance Program continues to help members find mental health counseling and more.
- The IAM’s Critical Incident Response Team has comforted members after workplace violence, on-the-job tragedies and more.
- The IAM’s Disaster Relief Program has helped members get back on their feet after hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires and other natural disasters.
“The bottom line is that this union is here for you and your family because this union is a family, Sisters and Brothers!” said Martinez.
Martinez then emphasized moves the union made on Capitol Hill to get critical bills passed, including the Butch Lewis Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act. He also reiterated the importance of passing the PRO Act to hold CEOs personally accountable for breaking the law during union organizing campaigns and make it illegal to replace or discriminate against striking workers.
Martinez boasted the strength of the union through tough negotiations and disputes with employers trying to outsource Machinists’ work or cut wages while making record profits, citing employers like Bath Iron Works, Eberhard Manufacturing, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Pratt and Whitney, United Launch Alliance, and currently Weyerhaeuser timber company.
In closing, Martinez looked to the week ahead and the commitments the union will make towards building a union that works for everybody.
“This week, we will make important changes to the IAM Constitution that will set us up for growth and strengthen our union for generations to come,” said Martinez. “We will pass resolutions that solidify our positions as a union and allow us to speak with one strong and undivided voice.”