For the 125th Anniversary of Our Union, Grand Lodge has released two new videos:
The IAM is proud to have been part of such an historic moment.
For many, the week’s events were a celebration of Dr. King, the march and its many accomplishments; a look on how far we’ve come. But, as was made so evident in speech after speech, in conversations with persons next to you, the words of others heard in passing, and on the thousands of signs and t-shirts that blanketed the National Mall – we still have a ways to go.
In 1963, the march was about jobs, freedom and the right to vote. Though many battles have been won, 50 years later, the fight rages on. The dream has not yet been fulfilled.
As we prepare to celebrate the 126th Labor Day, our celebration is also two-fold. This Labor Day, we celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers. We celebrate the good jobs won, livable wages earned, health and safety requirements put in place, and workplace fairness achieved. We celebrate the courage and defiance upon which our movement was founded.
But in this moment we also take inventory – this one, of a task not yet completed. The promise of a good job, a livable wage, health and safety, and workplace fairness is not yet enjoyed by every working American. Those who enjoy the benefit of a union contract are fighting tooth and nail to keep it.
From Wisconsin to Indiana, New Jersey and Ohio, the right to bargain collectively is under attack. Under the guise of fiscal responsibility and austerity, Republican governors and state legislatures have launched repeated assaults on public-sector unions and their members’ right to join a union. City workers in Detroit and the pensions they’ve paid into and rightfully earned have unjustly become scapegoats for the Motor City’s bankruptcy.
Private industry is rife with an anti-worker agenda of its own. Feverish attempts to cut workers’ wages, benefits and pensions are spreading from corporation to corporation like the plague. Many claim financial hardship, while at the same time fanning record profits and awarding themselves with astronomical bonuses.
On a national level, more than 22 million people are out of work through no fault of their own. Every American’s right to vote as outlined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act is under assault. And right-wing extremists will stop at nothing until Social Security Insurance and Medicare are completely dismantled.
This Labor Day, let us remember the great accomplishments of those in the labor movement who paved the way for us. But let us also resolve to do the same for the next generation. Let us organize. And let us continue the fight for good jobs, fair wages and a secure retirement for every American.
The July 1 Installation Ceremony is the formal start of new four-year terms for the recently-elected IAM Executive Council, which includes the International President, General Secretary-Treasurer and nine General Vice Presidents. The ceremony, held at IAM Headquarters, also included the swearing-in of five members of the IAM Law Committee, three delegates to the AFL-CIO and one delegate to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
In its 125-year history, the IAM has never been led by a more diverse leadership body, or one more representative of the membership in IAM locals and districts throughout North America. The current council includes men and women of African-American, Hispanic, Anglo and American-Indian heritage, with equally diverse occupational backgrounds.
While the demographics of current Council accurately reflect the growth of the IAM far beyond its original railroad roots, it also displays a commitment to inclusion and opportunity for current and prospective members at every level of the organization.
Among the changes for the current council is the addition of the first two women to serve as General Vice Presidents in the IAM’s highest elective body. Diane Babineaux and Dora Cervantes will begin their first four-year terms with decades of combined experience that ranges from human rights and community service to finance and contract negotiation.
Individual executive council members will also see changes in assignments and responsibilities, with GVP Bob Martinez, Jr. moving to IAM Headquarters to fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of former Vice President Rich Michalski. Also, newly-elected GVP Mark Blondin will take the helm as General Vice President of the 100,000-member IAM Southern Territory. Additional announcements regarding leadership assignments and responsibilities will be made in the near future.
“The IAM is fortunate to have dedicated people with the talent and experience needed to carry on our hallowed and historic traditions,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Despite the extraordinary challenges facing our union, I have faith that the people elected to serve on the Executive Council, the Law Committee and as delegates to the AFL-CIO and CLC, are more than equal to the task.”
Retired IAM International President George Kourpias administered the oath of office to the new Executive Council, which includes IAM International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger, General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach, Jr. and General Vice Presidents Dave Ritchie, Lynn D. Tucker, Jr., Robert Martinez, Jr., Philip J. Gruber, Gary R. Allen, Sito Pantoja, Mark A. Blondin, Diane Babineaux and Dora Cervantes.
Also sworn in were Law Committee members Philip Zannella, Jr., James Beno, Stanley Pickthall, Ellen Arbogast and Jeffrey Doerr; and Delegates to the AFL-CIO Shelley Kessler, James Conigliaro and Rickey Wallace. Tania Canniff will serve as the Delegate to the Canadian Labour Congress.