IAM Woodworkers Look to Grow Global Power Through Building and Wood Workers’ International

IAM Woodworkers Department Director and Vice President of Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) North America Region Bob Walls chaired the union federation’s recent North America Regional Meeting in Washington, DC.

“We have identified which multinational companies (MNCs) are operating in North America, unionized and non-union,” said Walls. “These larger companies are known to lose their principles and violate international labor standards once operating in North America.”

The meeting gathered union leaders from IAM, SMART, IUPAT, CMAW and the Iron Workers in a show of solidarity between BWI and its North American affiliates. The representatives discussed organizing, multinational companies coming to North America, youth and women’s committees, and more. 

“The IAM has the best Strategic Resources and Organizing Departments in labor and commits to coordinated research and efforts with our BWI affiliates to share information about tracking and organizing MNCs,” said Walls.

Walls provided opening remarks for the BWI North America-European Forum on Multinational Companies and represented the wood, pulp, and paper industries on two panels: “European MNCs in the North America: Market Presence and Labour Relations” and  “Towards Joint Actions and Coordination: Our Way Forward.” Fifty trade union leaders and affiliates from eight countries across North America and Europe attended. 

Panelists, including Walls, spoke on the extent of European MNCs in BWI industries in the North America region, labor relations with these corporations, strategies to galvanize union power and coordination with and among the North American trade unions. The forum included delegates from IAM, BWI, SMART, IUPAT, CMAW, the Iron Workers, and construction unions from Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Panama, Denmark, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

Monica Lee Silbas, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President and Director of the Trade and Globalization Department, attended both the regional meeting and the forum. Walls and Silbas also participated in BWI’s Sports Conference, which is an assessment of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign and its handover to North America’s FIFA UNITED 2026 World Cup in relation to human and workers’ rights.

Pictured left to right: Blair Rawlings, CMAW-Canada; Ryan Kekeris, IUPAT-North America; Tos Añonuevo, BWI-Switzerland; Terri Kenealy, IAMAW-North America; Bob Walls, IAMAW and BWI VP of North American Region; Monica Silbas, IAMAW, North America; Per-Olof Sjöö, BWI-Sweden; Chris Wasilenchuk, CMAW – Canada; Chris Rootes, Iron Workers- North America; Ambet Yuson, BWI-Switzerland; Saul Mendez Rodriguez, Panama; James White, SMART-North America; Nilton Freitas, BWI-Panama

BWI North America-Europe MNC Forum

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