New faces, same fights for 125-year-old IAM

The Machinists Union was founded 125 years ago this month, and while the people and the industries they work in have changed, the core issues are very much the same, the union’s international president said.

CrowdShot1The union’s founders were “19 men who were fighting for the same basic dignity we fight for today, and realized they couldn’t do it by themselves,” said Tom Buffenbarger, the leader of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.

Buffenbarger spoke in Seattle in April during the IAM’s biennial Aerospace Conference. Complete coverage of his remarks is in the current edition of Machinists Union District Lodge 751‘s  AeroMechanic newsletter, which is now available online.

The union was founded in Atlanta on May 5, 1888, and has grown to become the largest union for railroad workers in North America and the largest union for aerospace workers in the world.

The union is engaged in fights on many fronts, Buffenbarger said: sequestration, pensions, Social Security cuts and anti-union laws — all of which are bad for working people.

“We’ve got a lot on our plates, brothers and sisters,” he said. “We can let it go, by indifference … or we can care about it, try new things and fight for it.”

And – just like 125 years ago – the battles Machinists fight today will have an impact for generations to come, he said.

“When we all retire, and our kids who came behind us are planning for their kids coming behind them, then we’ll know we did our jobs,” Buffenbarger said.

Also in this month’s AeroMechanic, you’ll read:

  • A report on the start of talks between members of Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 and management at Triumph Composites in Spokane;
  • A feature on how a team of Machinists Union members in Auburn has created new tooling that improves the quality, productivity and safety of Boeing Co. workers;
  • Coverage of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s speech at the Aerospace Conference, which included his vow to make Washington the only viable choice to be home for Boeing’s new 777-X;
  • Reports on union community service events, including the Vennie Murphy Walkathon, which raised $9,000 for The Rescue Mission in Tacoma, and a list of those who were honored by the Machinists Volunteer Program Committee at its annual banquet in April; and
  • A report on a Spokane Machinist’s experience at the Boston Marathon — Joe Marek had finished the race and was boarding a train to take back to his hotel when the bombs went off.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 33,000 working men and women at 49 employers across Washington, Oregon and California.

To talk to a District 751 officer about how a union contract could help you, click here.

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