It was a hard-won negotiation for the members at IAM Local 1406 who work for GE Datex-Ohmeda in Madison, WI but their solidarity and strength brought home a strong machinist contract for these working-class heroes who put their lives on the line during the pandemic.
“It is great to hear that the members of IAM Local 1406 took an overwhelming stance to demand a better contract,” said IAM District 10 Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra. “The members now have a long-term agreement with benefits and wages which support the tireless work they have performed throughout this pandemic.”
The members at IAM Local 1406 are the frontline workers who built anesthesia, respiratory and infant care machines during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak that were used around the world to save lives. Without much fanfare or recognition, these machinist members made history during the pandemic, answering the call when this country needed it the most.
"Every ventilator we get off the end of our line and out of our building is saving a life,” said IAM Local 1406 member Trevar Smedal, who works at Madison’s GE Datex-Ohmeda manufacturing plant. https://t.co/xvXii39Ezz
— Machinists Union ✈️🚊🚀 (@MachinistsUnion) April 21, 2020
But in spite of the sacrifices made by workers, the negotiation process was not a simple feat. After two contract extensions, a ratification vote in which the membership overwhelmingly turned down the first proposal and strong support to strike if necessary, on June 29, 2021, IAM Local 1406 members voted yes for a five-year agreement that recognized their hard work. The ratified contract offers significant wage increases, managed health care premiums and an appreciation award for the long hours and work performed by the membership during the pandemic.
“The members had no choice but to turn down the first proposal offered by the company,” said IAM District 10 Business Representative Joe Terlisner. “Not only did it lack long-term financial stability but it negatively impacted health care costs. The bottom line was that it did not reflect the appreciation and value the members deserved who risked their lives to save others during the pandemic.”
“IAM members at Local 1406 answered the call and put everything on the line when our country needed them the most. For that, our union couldn’t be more proud,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “We are equally as proud of the solidarity our members exhibited during this negotiation. They sent a strong message to the company that they deserved better. Their courage and fortitude is a win for working people everywhere. Congratulations to all and thank you to all those at the bargaining table who never backed down from doing what was right and just for these working-class heroes.”