In Return to Historic Roots, IAM Creates Rail Division to be Led by Josh Hartford as Union Grows Strength for TCU/IAM, IAM District 19 Members

IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. has appointed Josh Hartford, who has served as an IAM District 19 General Chairman since 2017, as Special Assistant to the International President for the IAM Rail Division. The Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) and IAM District 19, which combined represent tens of thousands of railroad workers, will be charter members of the IAM Rail Division and remain separate entities with the same current authority over all Local Lodges within their jurisdiction.

Hartford’s appointment and the creation of the IAM Rail Division are both effective May 1, 2022.

The announcement is a fulfillment of the 2012 merger agreement between TCU/IAM and the IAM, which clearly stated that both parties would create a Rail Division comprised of TCU/IAM and IAM District 19. The creation of this division will make the IAM a powerhouse in the rail sector and encourage additional growth.

“The IAM Executive Council is committed to both fulfilling the promise made in our merger agreement, as well as aggressively addressing the needs of our railroad membership,” said Martinez. “The creation of the IAM Rail Division will give every railroad worker in TCU/IAM and District 19 the resources and support necessary to grow our strength in so many ways.” 

Hartford, who will report directly to the International President in his new role, initiated into IAM Local 409, now Local 318, in Waterville, ME as a machinist for the Springfield Terminal Railway Co. He served in a variety of local lodge positions before being appointed District 19 Employee Assistance Program Coordinator. He was also elected President of the Central Maine Labor Council from 2017 to 2019.

Hartford became a District 19 General Chairman in 2017 and was elected to another four-year term in 2019. His tenure includes overseeing many railroad agreements and working in several bargaining coalitions with various railroad unions. He’s currently a member of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) and the District 19 arbitration review board.

“I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to work with TCU/IAM and District 19 to lead our railroad membership into the future,” said Hartford. “I look forward to working with TCU/IAM and District 19 members and leaders from coast to coast to fight every day for our dedicated railroad members and their families. Bringing back a Rail Division will provide all of our railroad members with a louder voice at the bargaining table and legislatively, as well as giving us a greater ability to organize new members.”

The IAM Rail Division will immediately begin work to better represent the similar interests of TCU/IAM and IAM District 19 members, including bringing the following benefits:

    • Autonomy and Prestige: Creating a separate Rail Division that reports directly to the International President provide railroad workers with more autonomy in deciding their direction within the IAM. The newly formed IAM Air Transport Territory, also effective on May 1, 2022, will focus solely on the needs of IAM air transport members.
    • Resources: TCU/IAM and District 19 will share resources to organize within the rail sector and coordinate to achieve more affiliations with other railroad unions. The Rail Division will also continue to increase coordination with IAM departments to ensure members have all the support they need.
    • Strength at the Table: More solidarity and cooperation will lead to more strength at the negotiating table with employers.
    • Legislative Strength: While TCU/IAM and District 19 have cooperated on legislative issues in the past, this structure will allow the Rail Division to address legislative issues distinctive to rail workers.
    • History: The IAM, which was founded as a railroad union in 1888, has not forgotten its roots. A Rail Division restores this historical significance and returns the IAM to many decades in which it had a Rail Division.

“The merger between TCU and the IAM has been a great success,” said TCU/IAM National President Arthur Maratea. “We look forward to building on our shared progress and continuing to grow our strength within the new IAM Rail Division.”

“IAM District 19 members are proud guardians of a rich history, and exciting future, for the IAM’s railroad membership,” said IAM District 19 President and Directing General Chairman J. Michael Perry. “Together, the new IAM Rail Division is going to build strength for our members at the bargaining table and allow for us to continue to grow in this vital industry.”

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