50 Years Later, Machinists March for Voting Rights in Selma

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IAM General Vice Presidents Mark Blondin and Diane Babineaux, second and third from right, respectively, march with over 200 IAM members and thousands of others at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery march. (Photo: Bill Burke/Page One Photography)

selma2One newspaper referred to Selma, AL as a tiny town on the outskirts of nowhere, but for 72 hours this week, Selma rose to its full height as the living, breathing center of the civil rights universe. With more than 60,000 marchers converging on the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge, the world was once again given images from the same place marchers were being clubbed, gassed and trampled in 1965.

selma3selma1Fifty years after Bloody Sunday, hundreds of IAM members and their families joined civil, human and workers’ rights activists to commemorate the sacrifice of those who risked their lives to end Jim Crow-era policies preventing millions of African Americans from voting. Their bravery captivated a nation, and led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act later that year.US-HISTORY-POLITICS-RIGHTS-RACISM

“All that history met on this bridge,” President Obama said at the commemoration. He was joined by the likes of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who nearly died at the hands of Alabama State Troopers when he led marchers over the same bridge 50 years ago.

But Obama made clear that the fight is far from over. There are newly-enacted voter-ID laws, early voting restrictions, unfair redistricting and a recent Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act.

“Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote,” said Obama. “As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, the Voting Rights Act stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor.”

IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux was joined by a contingent of Machinists Union members carrying signs proclaiming “Voter Rights are Human Rights.”

“It’s an awe-inspiring experience to be amongst the civil rights icons who risked their lives to march across this bridge 50 years ago. They did it for us, and we’re here to recognize that sacrifice,” said IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux. “What makes me hopeful is the amount of young people here who weren’t even alive in the 1960s. The torch is being passed to a generation that is ready to fight back against modern-day affronts to voting rights. The future is in good hands.”

“We had nearly 200 IAM members and their families come from all over the country to mark this momentous anniversary in our country’s history,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin. “They came here because one of our most sacred American freedoms – the right to vote – is under attack once again. The IAM stands on the right side of history, and we stand for the right of everyone to have their voices heard.”

source: http://www.goiam.org/index.php/imail/latest/14139-50-years-later-machinists-march-for-voting-rights-in-selma

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IAM Mourns Passing of Val Bourgeois

val_bourgeoisVal Bourgeois, the first IAM Canadian General Vice President to be elected by Canadian members, has passed away at the age of 84.

Bourgeois served two terms as Canadian General Vice President, first elected in 1985 and then again in 1989.

Bourgeois first joined the IAM with Local 594 in Moncton, New Brunswick, his hometown, in 1952 as an apprentice machinist at Canadian National Railways. He was first elected as president of his Local in 1966 and the following year was elected part-time General Chairman for the IAM Railway District in Atlantic Canada. He also served as Secretary-Treasurer of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour for six years. In 1969 he was appointed to the IAM field staff as a Grand Lodge Representative, based in Montreal.

In 1981, Bourgeois was named Administrative Assistant to the then-IAM General Vice President and moved to the union’s headquarters in Ottawa.

“Val’s commitment to our members and working Canadians as a whole was second to none,” said Dave Ritchie, who succeeded Bourgeois in 1995 as Canadian General Vice President. “He was a tireless worker on the international level, establishing global standards for the transportation industry.”

Bourgeois is survived by his wife, Marguerite, and his six children and five grandchildren.

Source: http://www.goiam.org/index.php/imail/latest/14135-iam-mourns-passing-of-val-bourgeois

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Lochlan, Son of Machinist Member Jason Murray, Makes A Difference For The Poor And Homeless

For the third year, Lochlan has led the “Hungry Tummies” food drive, helping out the poor and homeless in Langley. The first year netted 140 kilos of food. In 2013 that haul increased to 230 kilos.

This December 2014 saw Lochlan collecting 280 kilos of food plus a donation of $750 from LL692 and LL11 to buy more food.

This year, Lochlan upped the ante, hoping to collect 600 pounds by day’s end.
The Langley Advance carried a feature on the Food Drive quoting Lochlan “A few years ago I just got to feeling that I should help people who don’t have much money and need food. The first time, we just got a bunch of food from our house and brought it to a food place, and from then on we were collecting food from people.”

food-driveThe paper continued that Lochlan’s dad Jason, who works for Belterra, said he’s “super proud” of his son, who came up with this plan when he was four years old and hosted his first event when he was five. “Just the fact that he’s thinking of other people beyond himself is pretty awesome,” Jason said. “He came up with the idea and we just got behind him.”

District Lodge 250 salutes this young man for thinking of his community and finding a material way to help.

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IAM Band unioNation Looking for Musicians

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source:
http:/www.goiam.org/imail/latest/13861-iam-band-unionation-looking-for-musicians

The IAM’s popular unioNation band is asking: Do you want to be a part of history?

The band is calling all IAM, TCU and NFFE members who have musical talents to update and write modern labor music. All genres are welcome, from rap and country to rock and hip-hop.

Help share stories through songs about work, walking the picket line, bargaining better contracts, worker and social justice, or motivating a crowd for a rally. Go to www.unionation.com for a look at what the original band has already accomplished.

Click here to watch their music videos on YouTube.

If you are interested in writing, singing or playing an instrument for unioNation, contact Henry Bagwell, William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center Instructor, at 301-373-8815 or hbagwell@iamaw.org

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A National Program for Affordable Child Care: It’s About Time

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Who: Canadian families

What: Tom Mulcair and Canada’s New Democrats have proposed a national program to provide all Canadian parents with quality child care at a cost of no more than $15 a day.

Why:

  • Almost 70% of Canadian mothers with children under 5 are working, but there are only regulated, quality spaces for about 20% of those children.
  • Even when spaces are available, families are forced to pay $40-$60 per day or more – making the cost of good care a problem for low and middle-income families.
  • The Harper Government’s “Universal Child Care Benefit” has cost over $2 billion a year without making child care more accessible or affordable.
  • Available, affordable and high quality child care is essential to our children’s future.  It provides major economic benefits, particularly helping low and middle-income families.  It will pay for itself, in both the short and the long-run, by boosting to employment and incomes.
  • Quebec has shown that it can be done, with its $7 a day child care program.

Where: In our workplaces and our communities, telling our co-workers, our friends and neighbours why we need to elect an NDP government that will bring affordable, quality child care to all Canadians.

When:  Between now and the 2015 federal election.

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