IAM 751 honors retired Machinist for volunteer work

RENTON — A retired Machinists Union member from Skyway has been honored for his volunteer community service.

Jim Hutchins, 72HutchinsAward, received the 2014 Bill Johnson True Trade Unionist Award for his work with the Machinists Volunteer Program at Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

The award is given annually to a volunteer who gives freely of his or her time without expecting to get anything in return. The award is given in the memory of former IAM 751 president Bill Johnson, who formed the MVP Committee in 1997.

Hutchins was presented with the award at the union’s annual MVP banquet May 25.

Hutchins was cited in particular for his work on wheelchair ramp projects. District 751’s MVP Committee specializes in wheelchair ramp construction; since 1997, the union’s volunteers have built nearly 340 ramps, each one allowing a home-bound person to regain a measure of their independence.

Hutchins retired from the Boeing Co. in 2003 after a career that included service as a union steward in the company’s Renton plant. Since then, he has done much of the logistical advance work for wheelchair ramp projects.

“Jim goes out ahead of time to evaluate the site, take measurements and determine how much material we’ll need,” said MVP Committee Chairman Rob Curran. “He coordinates deliveries of those materials during the week, so that when our other volunteers, who have full-time jobs, show up on the weekend, everything’s ready to go.”

“Without Jim, we couldn’t do nearly as many wheelchair projects,” said former MVP chairman Robley Evans. “He makes it happen.”

Last year, District 751 MVPs built eight wheelchair ramps for Puget Sound-area families, part of a long list of 557 community service events that union volunteers took part of in 2013.

In all, the MVPs as a group gave 15,893 hours of volunteer service last year, which included road clean-ups in Renton, weekly shifts at the Northwest Harvest warehouse in Kent and participation in the annual Auburn Clean Sweep. They also volunteered at charity fundraising events that raised a record $384,000 for Guide Dogs of America.

“Service to the community is one of the core principals of the Machinists Union,” said District 751 President Jon Holden. “We are incredibly proud of Jim and the other MVPs, and the work they do to make our communities better places to live.”

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 32,000 working men and women at 50 employers across Washington, Oregon and California.

Follow IAM 751 on Twitter.

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