2013 IAM Retirees Conference Bridges Generational Divide

Delegates to the 2013 IAM Retirees Conference converged on Las Vegas to strategize IAM retirees’ continued role in the fights to protect Social Security, expand Medicare and preserve pensions. 

Hundreds of retired IAM members converged on Las Vegas this week for the 2013 IAM Retirees Conference.

In a year that the IAM is celebrating its 125th anniversary, attendees pledged to continue fighting for a secure retirement, including protecting Social Security from the benefit-cutting “Chained CPI” proposal, expanding Medicare and preserving pensions. Speakers highlighted civil rights and humanitarian victories of the past to show that despite a harsh political climate, grassroots organizing and political discourse brought on by retirees can change the country.

“We need your help,” IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger told retirees. “We are fighting for health care, earned benefits, our pensions and a better life for our members. Our fight never ends.”

As part of a new effort to bridge the gap between generations, retirees paired with Young Machinists in a week-long mentoring program. Despite falling union density in the U.S., a recent Pew poll shows that 61 percent of young people have a favorable view of labor unions. That’s more than 10 points higher than the national average.

Andrea Gorman, a retired member of IAM Local 1584 in Oakland, CA, was paired up with Joseph Gallegos, a Young Machinist out of Local 47 in Denver.

“We’re going to need people to replace us,” said Gorman, a 31-year IAM member. “Right away, we shared stories and realized that we’ve been through a lot of the same things.”

Speakers told stories of the extraordinary efforts of retirees who are making a difference in their local communities. During the 2012 election cycle, retired Machinists traveled from far and wide to knock on doors for months in Ohio, a swing state that eventually helped carry President Obama to his second term. Retirees all over the country are forming clubs that bring Machinists together to help win elections and make life better for the middle class.

“Our retirees are in a unique position to do things that our members who work every day simply don’t have the time to do,” said IAM Retirees, Community and Membership Services Director Charles Micallef. “I urge all our retirees to get out there, get involved and make a difference.”