Holden: New year brings signs of renewed union

Machinists Union District Lodge 751 is showing signs of renewed strength after one of the most-difficult years in its history, the union’s president said.

JonCrossedArms“The Jan. 3 (2014) vote that resulted in the loss of our pensions, in exchange for Boeing’s promise that we’d get to build the 777X, bitterly divided our union,” said IAM 751 President Jon Holden. “I don’t think anybody — even the people who voted for it — thought the offer Boeing made to us was a good one, and I know many of our members are still angry about the circumstances of the vote.”

But one year later, Holden said he is optimistic the union is “on a path to a position of strength.”

Holden’s comments are included in the most-recent edition of the AeroMechanic newsletter, which is now available online.

Holden said he was pleased that hundreds of union members attended a series of town hall meetings the union held last year. “We had candid conversations about where we’re at as a union,” he said. “You asked tough questions; I gave you honest answers. I thought it was a really valuable dialogue.”

Hundreds more IAM 751 members attended a series of workers’ rights classes organized by the union. “This was very important,” Holden said. “An informed membership, one that knows its rights in the workplace and how to defend them, can’t be pushed around.”

Both the town hall meetings and workers’ rights classes will continue in 2015, he said.

While the majority of District 751 members work at the Boeing Co., Holden said the union also scored important victories in 2014 with contracts with other employers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and in Eastern Washington. The union also helped workers at Jorgensen Forge in Seattle form a new bargaining unit.

The union’s Machinists Volunteer Program continued its “legacy of outstanding work” in 2014, Holden said, and District 751 remained the No. 1 fundraiser in North America for Guide Dogs of America.

The union also remains an active player in Washington’s political scene, helping promote draft legislation that would ensure an $8.7 billion tax incentive package approved by the state’s Legislature in 2013 actually grows Washington’s aerospace industry.

“All these things are encouraging to me, and demonstrate that our union is still vital and effective,” Holden said. “The first steps that we took in 2014 put us on the road to achieving our goals.”

Also in this month’s AeroMechanic, you will find:

  • LivingWageSignA report on how the Aerospace Tax Incentive Accountability Act drafted by District 751 and SPEEA is gaining bi-partisan support and is likely to be introduced and debated when the Washington Legislature convenes in Olympia on Jan. 13;
  • A round-up of union community service activities in November and December, including the key role IAM 751 volunteers played in this year’s KING-TV Hometeam Harvest food drive and the Toys for Tots campaigns in Snohomish and Yakima counties; and
  • A story about how District 751 honored its members for their service in the U.S. Armed Forces on Veterans Day.

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 51 employers across Washington and California.

To talk to an IAM 751 representative about how to join the Machinists Union, click here.

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