Western Territory Conference Focuses on Union Power

Over a two hundred Fighting Machinists attended the 2018 Western Territory Officer and staff conference in Portland, OR. They spent their weekend in fellowship and learning with the aim of strengthening the IAM at every level. The attendees experienced a full agenda of speakers and workshops on an array of subjects including organizing, bargaining, the importance of inclusion and diversity all designed and presented with the intention of improving the lives of IAM members, their families and the communities they live in.

Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen spoke passionately, emphasizing the moral and ethical imperative of improving the lives of working families.

Diversity & Inclusion Panel at the Western Territory Conference discussing ways that IAM members have been impacted by diversity and inclusion in their lives. From left to right: Okesene Iese, Natalie Gonzalez, Jason Chan; moderators Rhonda Rogers and Maria Lillis; Fleeta Loflin, and Jessica Demming.

“The way we accomplish this is by demanding and when necessary we fight for a fair share of the incredible profits that Corporate America hoards – all we ask is a fair wage that affords a decent existing and that we all live a life with respect and dignity,” said Allen. “We have some of the best and the brightest in the IAM, they are the key to building our Union. The Leadership learned to understand differences, contributions and the strategic value of diversity and inclusion to building power.”

“Fundamentally, organizing is about building power for current and future members,” said International President Bob Martinez. “We build power so we can defend and advance the cause of dignity, respect, and economic justice in the workplace and in our communities. And because of the people in this room—and others like you across the United States and Canada—our new approach to organizing is working. That is great news for the working families we are welcoming into our union and great news for our current members who are benefiting from our added strength at the negotiating table.”

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, son of a Machinist and raised in a middle-class home, spoke of the power of unions and collective bargaining.

“Workers deserve the fair share of the wealth they helped create,” said Merkley.