International Solidarity Defines 38th Grand Lodge Convention

IAM delegates returned home from the 38th Grand Lodge Convention in Toronto, ON carrying the message that union members’ interests at home can be protected by supporting workers’ struggles around the world. The quadrennial event concluded with a look at highlights since the first IAM convention was held in 1889, one year after the union was founded in Atlanta, GA.

From its earliest days as a secret society to its current status as one of the most influential trade unions in North America, the IAM has continually urged its members to support human rights struggles at home and abroad.

While the IAM’s international legacy was on full display in Toronto, the speakers, panel discussion and debates during the five-day event were more about the future than the past.

“Never before has this union… or any union for that matter… spent so much time focused on the future – the threats that lie over the horizon, the plight of our brothers and sisters across the globe, the actions we must take and will take to make our promise of Hope for All Who Toil a reality,” said International President Buffenbarger in his closing remarks.

Taken from the second verse of Canada’s national anthem, the convention’s theme; ‘Hope for All Who Toil,’ provided both the message and mission for the nearly 1,000 members from 388 locals across the U.S. and Canada who were elected to serve as delegates.

Among those in attendance was Gabrielle N. Rogano, 24, of Local 751F in Seattle, WA, who was the youngest delegate at the convention. The most senior delegate in attendance was 84-year old Emil Skorup from Local 49 in Chicago. IL. More than 400 delegates took part in their first-ever convention.  

The 2012 Convention was notable for its focus on global events, its use of wireless technology to conduct convention business as well as its emphasis on preparing young Machinists for leadership roles.

“This great union of ours is and must remain a meritocracy – the best and the brightest, the strongest and the toughest, the hardest working and the shrewdest negotiators, the savviest politicians and the straightest shooters – all must have a fair shot at moving up the leadership ladder,” said Buffenbarger.

The 2012 Convention was also notable as the first to be held in Toronto, ON in more than 100 years and the first since TCU-IAM completed their historic affiliation, bringing more than 30,000 new members into the IAM.

Click here to watch video of the Convention and read the Daily Highlights.