IAM Midwest Territory’s Successful In-Plant Organizing Efforts Continue to Empower Workers

Earlier this year, workers at Elkhart Brass in Elkhart, Ind., ran an internal organizing campaign to gain greater collective bargaining power and win a more robust union contract. 

With the help of IAM Local 2018 Directing Business Representative Tim Hight, employees formed a team to address the need for internal organizing in their workplace. The committee created literature to inform their colleagues about the significance of having a union and to highlight the current benefits provided by the Elkhart Brass facility, which were obtained through the union’s efforts.

During the campaign, nontraditional tactics were employed as there was limited printed material. The campaign did not involve any town hall meetings. Instead, direct engagement occurred within the facility, led by the shop committee, stewards, and other members who volunteered.

When Local 2018 began negotiations, its membership increased from 36 to 81. Although it was an unconventional approach, it proved to be effective and yielded significant dividends during the bargaining process.

In the recent contract negotiations, Local 2018 successfully prevented the company from imposing any concessions. Instead, they negotiated the elimination of the second-tier pay scale. This resulted in immediate raises ranging from 11% to 18% in the first year for IAM members. At the same time, employees on the first-tier pay structure received salary increases throughout the duration of the contract.

The new contract includes language that reduces the probationary period for new hires, grants time for new hires to sit down with the shop committee to learn about their union benefits, and provides hourly increases to the shift premium.

“While this campaign was not traditional, it was very effective and paid off big dividends at the bargaining table,” said IAM Local 2018 Directing Business Representative Tim Hight. “This is a perfect example of the power we possess as workers, as the success was 100% driven from inside the shop.”

Elkhart Brass manufactures firefighting, fire protection, and industrial water flow equipment, and the IAM represents approximately more than 80 workers, including operators, maintenance, trainers, mechanics, and more.

“We congratulate the hardworking and dedicated workers for their remarkable success in organizing within the plant,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “The collective solidarity translated into higher wages and benefits. This outcome demonstrates that when our union family grows bigger, our union contracts grow stronger.”

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