IAM STANDING STRONG: 40th IAM Grand Lodge Convention Lays the Foundation for a Bright Future

Top: IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen addresses delegates. Middle: IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes, Canadian Labour Congress President Bea Bruske, IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler at the convention stage. Bottom: U.S. President Joe Biden sends message to IAM members.

This story is from the Summer 2023 edition of the IAM Journal

From October 2 to 7, 2022, the IAM Western Territory and the city of Las Vegas welcomed IAM delegates from across the U.S. and Canada who represent the power and strength of our union for the 40th IAM Grand Lodge Convention.

This pivotal event had previously been scheduled to take place in San Diego in September 2020 but was postponed for two years to protect the safety and health of convention delegates and guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 40th IAM Grand Lodge Convention was the first time the entire union has gathered as one in six years because of the global health crisis.

The IAM Western Territory hosted the convention and proudly convened a diverse group of 1,053 delegates from local lodges across North America.

Delegates to the Convention were elected at the local lodge level and set the agenda and policies that built on past Convention actions keeping the IAM a union that serves its members efficiently and works for everybody

Delegates fine-tuned the IAM Constitution with a series

of proposals to advance the IAM’s core goals and adopted resolutions to spur growth and address issues affecting our membership.

During Convention activity, delegates passed propositions that:

  • Increased IAM Strike Fund benefits
  • Created the IAM Organizing Fund to build an army of organizers to further the union’s growth
  • Recommended Local Lodges to establish new committees that advocate for women, human rights and veterans
  • Grew the IAM’s Disaster Relief Fund
  • Addressed and provided solutions to electronic meetings and voting, among other important proposals.
  • Launched the IAM Committee on the Future to hear from members across North America and develop plans to grow, reach young people, and bring up the next generation of IAM leaders and activists.
  • Recommended that every Local Lodge, District Lodge, Grand Lodge, and State Council meeting implement a code of conduct to ensure proper treatment and equal respect.
  • Strengthened existing initiatives such as the Leadership Excellence Assembly of Dedicated Sisters (LEADS) program and the IAM Veteran Services, among others.

In addition to hearing from fellow Machinists, delegates also heard inspiring speeches by the U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, Canadian Labor Council President Bea Bruske, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) General Secretary Stephen Cotton, and recorded messages from President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh energizes IAM members to continue their fight for working Americans.

Speakers also included distinguished figures such as the AFL-CIO Secretary-

Treasurer Fred Redmond, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists President Rev. Terry Melvin, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Steven Horsford (D-NV).

The Grand Lodge Convention was marked by the orderly manner in which business was conducted.

Following the long-standing Grand Lodge Convention’s tradition, three different gavels representing the union’s values were made by proud IAM Western Territory members. Each of these gavels has its unique story and was presented during the opening ceremony.

As part of its goal to educate and increase awareness, the Convention held panel discussions on key issues that impact IAM members, such as labor organizing, artificial intelligence, and veterans affairs. These discussions examined strategies, best practices, and available tools for members.

The Convention also included the International President’s Excellence in Organizing Awards, honoring organizers and territories that demonstrated an outstanding commitment to growing the strength of the IAM.

“This grand gathering called the Grand Lodge Convention is about charging a course for growth, prosperity, and strength,” said IAM General Vice President Gary R. Allen during his opening remarks to set the tone for this historic event.

QUOTE: Together, all of your delegates to this Convention, the Law Committee, and your Executive Council, we will forge a new path to victory.”

The Making of the Convention

Hundreds of delegates convened in Las Vegas for the Convention, and its execution would not have been possible without the involvement and massive work behind the scenes by the IAM Western Territory, led by General Vice President Gary R. Allen, the Grand Lodge Convention Host Committee, staff, and members.

Allen welcomed delegates of the 40th Grand Lodge Convention to the Western Territory with a passionate speech that encouraged growth, change, and strength. He highlighted the importance of democracy in the union and the key role of delegates in deciding the union’s priorities and future.

“The Grand Lodge Convention represents a pure form of democracy by which the delegates have the final say and will steer this Union’s course for the next two years,” said Allen during his opening address.

The list of Host Committee duties was expansive and included but was not limited to overseeing the delegate registration process, conducting fundraising activities, and ensuring the event ran smoothly.

“We are proud to bring this historic event to the Western Territory to showcase and report the work we have done on behalf of our members and to present our future agenda,” said IAM Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes. “We owe our members transparency and integrity, and the Grand Lodge Convention serves as an opportunity to achieve that objective.”

IAM Women Leading the Way

Women have been a critical part of the growth and strength of the IAM. Our commitment to supporting women’s empowerment and representation was demonstrated as women in attendance comprised the highest percentage of delegates ever at a Grand Lodge Convention.

The IAM has been taking the necessary steps to foster women into leadership roles and to preserve this great progress, and the 40th IAM Grand Lodge Convention wasn’t the exception.

“We are committed to creating opportunities to increase visibility and inclusion for IAM women, and the Grand Lodge Convention allows us to create directives to achieve those goals,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr.

QUOTE: IAM women from the local level to higher rank roles have shown up and stood up during this historical gathering cementing the way for the years to come.”

Growing a New Generation of IAM Members

During the 2022 IAM Grand Lodge Convention, delegates agreed to establish the “Committee of the Future” that will be responsible to explore and strategize the forthcoming path of the union and to foster membership growth.

Delegates from across North America overwhelmingly supported the initiative that will expand IAM’s strength as it becomes more inclusive and more reflective of its membership.

The adopted initiative included recommendations to address IAM changing demographics regardless of age, gender, and race. The resolution aimed to bolster its existing and prospective membership across all industries.

“The IAM continues to evolve, and we need to galvanize the current surge of union support to empower the new generation of workers through collective bargaining,” said Martinez. “‘The Committee of the Future will not only achieve that but will also connect with workers and understand their needs more in depth.”

As a reflection of the changing dynamics, for the 40th IAM Grand Lodge Convention, a majority of the IAM delegates were first-timers who were committed to building a union that works for everybody regardless of their background.

“Growing our membership and extending the reach of union representation are part of all territories’ agendas,” said Allen. “The delegates attending the Grand Lodge convention in Las Vegas are reflective that our membership is changing, and it’s imperative that we implement new union organizing strategies that are key for the future of our union.”

In his closing remarks to the Convention, Martinez noted that the adopted proposals, resolutions, and initiatives will guide the union and allow us to face the new emerging challenges through the next two years.

“The theme of our Convention has been IAM Standing Strong,” said Martinez. “We stood strong through the pandemic. We stood strong through attacks on our union. We stood strong because of all of you. And we stood strong this week to make historic changes to our union. This is what union democracy looks like, Brothers and Sisters.”

The 41st Grand Lodge Convention Goes East

Planning for the 41st IAM Grand Lodge Convention has begun and will be held in New York City from September 1-6, 2024. As one of the cities with the highest density in North America, New York was the ideal fit to plan the years ahead.

“Despite the challenges, the 40th Grand Lodge Convention provided an opportunity to strategize how to better serve our members and workers in the industries we represent,” said Allen. “This Convention truly reignited the pride of our membership, strengthening our core values and laying the foundation for a better future.”

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