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  • IAM Canada Grabs Largest Organizing Victory in Decades

    There was nothing small about this campaign. The numbers of new members – 2,400, the numbers of meetings held over a six-day period with these members – 36, the strength of the proven track record of representation for workers: it all adds up to make the IAM a major player in Ontario’s Health Care Sector.

     When Spectrum Health Care announced it was merging its two divisions – Spectrum Health Care and Spectrum Patient Transfer – into one company, IAM Grand Lodge Representative Ralph Martin and IAM Grand Lodge Organizer Scott Jackson, acted quickly and quietly. “We already had a healthy relationship with Spectrum, representing their Patient Transfer ambulatory drivers, attendants and dispatch personnel,” explains Martin. “They’re what is known as a related employer and we already had a province-wide certification with part of the new company and that’s how we approached it.”

     The new group, 2,000 Personal Support Workers (PSW) and 400 Registered Nurses (RN) will form their own Local Lodge – Homecare Workers Local 1231 – as part of IAM District Lodge 78. They work in multiple locations across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) from Pickering in the east to Peel Region in the west and York Region in the north.

     “This didn’t happen overnight,” explains Jackson. “Years ago we recognized we were losing members in our manufacturing base and we had to start looking outside of our ‘organizing box’ as it were. It began with Ontario Patient Transfer (OPT), and continued to grow with retirement and long-term care facilities to become the fastest growing sector in District 78.”

     “You can’t do something like this in a couple of months, this goes back more than a year,” says Martin. “We worked hard to establish a good working relationship with Spectrum since they bought OPT a few years back and that has worked in our favour. Workers talk to one another and in this case, they’re in the same company and that’s a bonus. We have been busy educating the new members about the value of belonging to a union. They all want the same thing: a decent wage and pension plan, a flexible workplace as well as respect and dignity at work. The feedback from the meetings has been very positive, especially the aspect of having a pension.”

     “I would have to go back more than 20 years for an organizing victory of this size and magnitude and it couldn’t come at a better time,” expressed a very pleased IAM Canadian General Vice President Stan Pickthall. “In the current environment of contract flipping and growing precarious work this is welcomed news. It shows that if you can reach people, educate them on the benefits of belonging to a union and show them they can have a better life for themselves and their families, they will gladly take advantage of the opportunity.”

    The Spectrum organizing victory coincides with a new IAM organizing initiative.

    “This victory for Spectrum workers is the best example yet that the IAM’s new strategic growth plan is working,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “Across our union, we are thinking of new ways to bring dignity and justice on the job to working families who deserve representation at work. Our power at the negotiating table is growing by the day—and that’s good news for IAM members of today and tomorrow.” 

    The IAM represents healthcare workers in three nursing homes in Orleans and others in North Bay, Toronto, Stratford and Bowmanville. 

    The post IAM Canada Grabs Largest Organizing Victory in Decades appeared first on IAMAW.

  • West Virginia Members, Supporters Rally for Contract

    More than 100 supporters of IAM Local 818 attended a rally yesterday in Glen Dale, WV to show solidarity to the members on strike at Tecnocap. Members and their families showed up in force along with retirees, other unions and government officials.

    Watch District 54 President T. Dean Wright Jr give a strike update on Activate L!VE

     “Our members appreciate all the support everyone has shown,” said Wright. “Community members not only stop and drop off supplies but also get out and walk the picket line to show solidarity.”

    “These highly skilled workers have spent years working in apprenticeships to obtain the skills used to make this company not only successful but allowed them to produce three consecutive record years,” said Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. “These members deserve to be treated better than the way Tecnocap has treated them.”

    “This is a union busting employer at their best,” said Wright. “They showed up at the bargaining table with one proposal only and said take it or leave it. Our members were left with no other recourse and voted unanimously to hit the picket line.”

    Watch District 54 President T. Dean Wright give a strike update on Activate L!VE

    The post West Virginia Members, Supporters Rally for Contract appeared first on IAMAW.

  • IAM Mourns with Humboldt

    IAM members attending the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center last week gathered to send a message of support to the Canadian hockey community, the town of Humboldt and all Canadians following the horrific accident that took the lives of 16 young people aboard a junior hockey league team bus.

    The bus carrying the junior league Humboldt Broncos team members, support staff and sportscasters was involved in a crash near Nipawin, Saskatchewan on April 6 while on the way to a playoff game.

    IAM members attending Arbitration, Collective Bargaining, Social Media for Organizing and TCU Local Chair classes all participated in the compassionate gesture.

    “The hockey community is much like a union,” said IAM Canada General Vice President Stan Pickthall. “Everyone sticks together and support each other in good times and bad. The show of solidarity and support from our members at the Winpisinger Center is a touching reminder of what a great union we are a part of.”

    “Our hearts go out to all those affected by this horrible accident,” said International President Bob Martinez. “Hockey is a way of life for many of our brothers and sisters in Canada. We feel their pain and mourn with them.”

    The Broncos play in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League at a level where players range and 16 to 21 and are not paid. The majority of people working in support of the team do so voluntarily, making junior league hockey very much a community effort.

    The post IAM Mourns with Humboldt appeared first on IAMAW.

  • The Gift of a Guitar Bringing Members Together at Winpisinger Center

    Sitting on the serene banks of the Patuxent River in southern Maryland is the IAM’s world-class labor education facility, the Winpisinger Center. Every year, thousands of Machinists Union members travel here to learn skills in organizing, negotiating, union leadership and more.

    The Winpisinger Center also gives IAM members from across North America and of all different backgrounds the chance to meet each other. The atmosphere builds friendships that can last a lifetime.

    Members who have been here will tell you it’s often the conversations outside the classroom that create the closest connections. Now, thanks to a generous donation by two IAM members, the power of bringing people together through music will continue for years to come at the Winpisinger Center.

    “I just wanted to do something that I thought would be a nice way to give back to the Winpisinger Center,” said Billy Barnwell, directing business representative for IAM District 131 in Georgia.

    An avid guitar player since the age of 15, Barnwell noticed that the Centers’ guitar was giving in to its age. “It was on its last leg,” said Henry Bagwell, an education representative at the Winpisinger Center.

    Barnwell knew what he had to do. The next time he came to the Winpisinger Center, he brought a brand new American-made Taylor guitar with him.

    He split the cost with his friend Eben Barnett, a District 131 organizer who doesn’t play guitar but wanted to help.

    Barnwell saw the value of the donation early on.

    “Before you know, there’s a crowd gathering around,” said Barnwell. “It brings people together.”

    Bagwell agrees. He helped IAM musicians join together to create the band UnioNation.

    “Music breaks down virtually any barrier,” said Bagwell. “It cuts through all the garbage.”

    The post The Gift of a Guitar Bringing Members Together at Winpisinger Center appeared first on IAMAW.