Machinists Union Celebrates 127th Birthday

A railroad pit in Atlanta was the birthplace of the Machinists Union on May 5, 1888. Standing with hats on at the head of the pit are two of the original 19 machinists: Mike Reilly, left, and Henry Garrett, right.

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger issued the following statement on the 127th birthday of the Machinists Union, founded May 5, 1888:

“From the cloak of secrecy in an Atlanta railroad pit to a world-renowned labor organization today, the Machinists Union has much to be proud of in its 127 years of fighting for workers. We’re a far cry from the 19 men who began this journey, but IAM founder Tom Talbot would be proud of the dynamic and diverse union we’ve become.

Delegates to the first IAM Grand Lodge Convention in 1889 gather outside the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta.

“Like the railroads spreading across the country at the time of this union’s beginnings, we quickly grew into a powerful voice for thousands of workers across the North American continent. The brothers and sisters of the IAM’s early years risked everything to preserve this union and give birth to the middle class.

“We are the stewards of their sacrifice. Faced with modern day attacks such as anti-worker free trade deals, the proliferation of so-called right-to-work laws, and politicians who will stop at nothing to see unions and workers’ rights obliterated, we have our work cut out for us. Our struggles have changed, but our solidarity remains strong.

“Congratulations on another milestone, Machinists, and I look forward to many more ahead.”