Dora Cervantes speaking at the podium: “This is a special moment from the first woman General Secretary-Treasurer to the first woman Local Lodge President.”
That new President is Helena Thornton of Victory Lodge 1725 in Charlotte, North Carolina… a lodge that houses two transportation districts, 141 and 142. After General Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes swore in new officers, three of the local’s eight executive board members are now women.
“I’m still at a loss for words, I am so honored,” said Helena Thornton, the first woman president of Victory Lodge 1725. “To have all these people here, to have our leadership team here and our own General Secretary Treasurer Dora has really shown me that it’s a good thing.”
So many members packed into the union hall, it was standing room only… to see the e-board and shop stewards sworn in for a new three-year term.
“It feels amazing just to have sister Dora here to swear us in, was something that is just like totally off the chain,” said Renae Miller, Victory Lodge 1725 Recording Secretary. “And to have all the other people here to witness this historic day for our first female president was amazing and I just hope I can do as good a job as she did as the recording secretary and make our local and our union proud.”
Miller has a good role model in Thornton, who acknowledges her own mentors… Assistant General Chairs Mike Fairbanks and Mark Baskett, who she says, never left her side and always supported her. Now, she hopes to do the same for her membership.
“They have my total dedication and support to ensure that this local will be one of the best locals that we have ever had,” said Thornton. ”All I want to do is bring more to it because we’re already awesome.”
Thornton has a long history of performing community service and even received an award for it at the Women’s Conference in 2019. It’s that type of dedication that members saw in her previous work as recording secretary and auditor… all leading up to her election as president.
“The individuals that were sworn in, they’ve been committed to their local for quite some time, from different facets of their local,” said Mike Noble, of Victory Lodge 1725. “I really feel like they put they weight in and their time in and it proves that the membership recognizes their hard work.”
“I think it’s fabulous,” said April Adcock, a Victory Lodge 1725 Member. “I am so excited, I’m so happy for them. I’m so proud of them. I think this is just an amazing moment.”
Thornton says her goals include holding everyone accountable for their actions and making sure local members hold her accountable, along with uniting the two districts.
“My philosophy is, because we have two districts don’t mean we’re two separate locals. To me, 141 and 142 equal 1725. We are one.”
One Victory Lodge, proud to make history in a union that fights for human rights every day of the year.
“I’m truly a full-blown Machinist, from my children, to my three grandchildren, everything is Machinists… in talking to them, they just say, ‘Everything you say is union!’ Because it is. You want a pension, you don’t want to work forever, you want a good retirement and if you don’t have a union, Machinists preferably, it’s gonna be hard for you.”
For the Machinists News Network, I’m Tanya Hutchins.