This year, for Black History Month, the IAM is highlighting some of our current history makers within the organization. All this month, we will be running stories on current Black activists in the IAM, telling their story in the union.
Edison Fraser began his career, and his IAM membership, as a Customer Service Agent with Southwest Airlines at BWI Airport in 2002 with Local 846. He immediately became involved in his union and was appointed first as a shop steward and then as a Local Lodge educator. He continued his leadership roles by serving as a Local Lodge Recording Secretary, then Local Lodge Secretary-Treasurer, and finally Local Lodge President, before becoming an organizer for District 142.
In that role, he helped achieve significant organizing victories, including Air Tran Airways and United Airlines. In 2012, he was appointed first as a Grand Lodge Special Representative for the Transportation Department and later as a Grand Lodge Representative. Most recently, in 2021, he became Transportation Coordinator.
Fraser said that although he encountered obstacles along the way, older leaders realized that he was willing to learn, so most welcomed him.
“I took advantage and volunteered to participate in union activities every chance I got,” said Fraser.
He was mentored by the late IAM Grand Lodge Representative Rene Cicero, who took Fraser under her wings and always encouraged him.
Fraser recalls Cicero telling him, “Eddie, you fit the mold, and one day you will make this union proud.”
Fraser was encouraged by seeing other Black IAM leaders, like now retired General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach Jr., and General Vice President Diane Babineaux.
These experiences have made Fraser the union activist he is today.
“Edison Fraser lets nothing stand in his way,” said Richard Johnsen, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President. “His work ethic and dedication to this union is second to none. I feel so fortunate and proud to have him as one of our leaders in Transportation. There is no doubt that he is paving the road for future leaders of the IAM.”
Fraser’s advice is to look at the history of the IAM and see how diverse it has become, and to take the opportunity to become more active in our union, especially for Young Machinists.
“Remember, you are the future, and no one can stop that,” Fraser says of the IAM’s younger members.
Fraser hopes members realize there are many resources to allow equal opportunities in the IAM to service our members in various capacities. He also encourages members to take advantage of the educational opportunities the IAM. He earned his associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees through the IAM.
Fraser relates to and admires the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He says King had a vision and would let nothing stop him. His favorite quote by King is, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”