The IAM Organizing Department welcomed five Machinist activists to the William W. Winpisinger (WWW) Center in Southern Maryland this week as part of the IAM’s 2014 Organizing Apprentices Program.
The two-day orientation was a kickoff for the young, diverse group of union activists. Participants included Ko Vang of Local 737 in St Paul, MN; Charles Herod of Local 2401 in Hamburg, NY; Joe Cicala of Local 1486 in Chesapeake Beach, MD; Gabrielle Rogano of Local 751F in Des Moines, WA and Francisco Bugarin of Local W261 in Central Point, OR.
IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger and General Vice President Bob Martinez opened the session with a warm welcome, thanking the members for their hard work and dedication. The next two days consisted of wall-to-wall training by IAM staff on the organizing process, tools of the trade, resources and an overview of what life is like on the road.
“These young IAM leaders are the future of this union,” said Buffenbarger. “They are the eyes that see what workers of today want on the job and the ears that listen to the problems and challenges workers currently face. This week’s orientation was the start of a rewarding education on how to confront those issues, how to educate others on their rights, how to inspire others to get involved and how to secure IAM representation. I look forward to their many accomplishments in helping to grow this union.”
As part of the IAM’s continued commitment to grooming the next generation of labor leaders, the bulk of the apprentices’ training will be on the frontlines. Participants will receive hands-on training working on a series of upcoming IAM organizing campaigns across the country.
“The landscape of the labor movement is ever-changing,” said Martinez. “With each campaign, each employer, each generation, the needs of the workforce changes. The IAM is committed to staying on the forefront of those changes. Providing the on-the-job training needed for union organizers today will ensure a strong IAM of tomorrow.”
A second group of organizing apprentices is scheduled to attend orientation at the WWW Center in March.