Dear IAM Family,
One of the core tenants of our union is to fight for a dignified retirement for every member. We also believe in the great importance of mentoring the next generation of leaders – and passing the torch to the right person at the right time.
That’s why after 43 years of membership, two decades on the IAM Executive Council, and eight years leading our union as International President, I have announced that I will retire on Jan. 1, 2024.
Since initiating into IAM Local Lodge 776A as an aircraft mechanic in my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, fresh out of the U.S. Navy, it’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve this great union. And as the first Latino international president of a major international union in the history of the American labor movement, the first Latino elected to the IAM Executive Council, and the first international president of color in the history of the IAM, I’ll always be proud of the work we’ve accomplished together.
We are now putting unprecedented resources into growing our union, winning campaigns in new and emerging industries, like healthcare and the gig and green economies, while strengthening our presence in our core sectors, too. We navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, doing everything we could to keep our members safe while saving the jobs of hundreds of thousands of members in the airline, defense, aerospace, and other industries. We launched many first-of-their-kind programs to help IAM women lead, assist our military veterans, place members with drug and alcohol addiction in treatment, and more. We continued our bold calls to keep our jobs here at home and won critical Buy American expansions.
We also strengthened our tradition of union democracy. At the two Grand Lodge Conventions I chaired, delegates passed the Membership Bill of Rights, expanded strike benefits, officially recognized women’s committees, launched the Committee on the Future, and more. We are better positioned for the challenges to come more than ever before, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for North America’s best and strongest union.
Together with your Executive Council, we have unanimously selected Resident General Vice President Brian Bryant to become the IAM’s 15th international president upon my retirement. Brian’s 34-year IAM career includes seven years on the Executive Council after rising through the ranks of Local Lodge S6 in Maine, District Lodge 4 and the Eastern Territory. A Navy ship pipefitter by trade, Brian brings his shop floor experience into every decision he makes and connects with our members on a personal level while having a strong vision for our union’s future.
As I enter this next chapter, I want to again thank the best membership, staff, and Executive Council in the labor movement. Under your guidance, I know that the IAM will continue its 135-year legacy of adapting to a changing world.
Together, united, we will make life better and create a world with security, dignity, and opportunity for all.
In solidarity always,
Robert Martinez Jr.