IAM Members Show How Solidarity and Unity Work

This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2017 IAM Journal.

Solidarity was the focal theme that emerged from the biennial conference of the IAM’s largest territory, Transportation. More than 600 delegates came to Las Vegas—the largest in the territory’s history.

Unity and work ethic of transportation members in the airline and railroad industries made the success possible.

Speakers included IAM International President Bob Martinez, Canada General Vice President Stan Pickthall, International Transport Workers’ Federation General Secretary Stephen Cotton, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and Transport Workers Union International President Harry Lombardo.

Delegates learned how to handle active shooter situations from the Department of Homeland Security and how the IAM’s Critical Incident Response Team has responded to past incidents and developed a new curriculum to train additional members.


Transportation’s airline successes include:

  • Dramatically improving job security provisions at Alaska, Southwest, Hawaiian, American and United Airlines.
  • Growing the union with organizing wins at SM Cargo, Jet Stream and Swissport.
    Increasing membership at Alaska Airlines by more than 1,000 members, plus gaining more than 700 additional members secured through the Virgin America merger.
  • Strong contract language allowed Southwest membership to grow by 600 people.
  • At United, $1.3 billion in new wages and benefits were negotiated for the 30,000-member fleet of passenger service, stores and reservations members.
  • The Southwest agreement produced $27 million in wages for 6,500 members, with $9 million in lump sum bonuses. In addition, the 2016 true-up brought Southwest members $120 million in additional wages and lump sum payments.
  • The 2016 Hawaiian negotiations brought over $50 million to Mechanic and Related and Clerical, Office, Fleet & Passenger Service members.
  • The IAM, along with its TWU partners, were able to achieve a mid-negotiation wage and benefit improvement at American Airlines worth $530 million.

On the railroad side:

  • Machinists and TCU members at NJ Transit, after five years of negotiations and two PEBs, averted a strike by overwhelmingly ratifying a contract that provides wage increases with full retroactive pay for current employees, as well as retirees.
  • Alstom Transport reached a $2.45 billion deal with Amtrak, which calls for IAM members to build new high-speed Acela trains for Amtrak’s Northeast corridor. The deal is expected to provide more than 500 new IAM Machinists jobs.
  • Metra, where they negotiated a 20.25 percent general wage increase compounded over six years that includes a $3,000 signing bonus.
  • The Huntington shop of CSX Transportation Inc., South Central Florida Express and Paducah and Louisville all negotiated contract improvements.

The IAM has also thought outside-the-box with new organizing models at places like McGee Air Services, where the union has organized over 1,200 new members since July 2016, and over 900 at United Ground Express (UGE). Both of these are new companies and the membership will continue to grow significantly as they expand.

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