IAM District 19 gave a nod to its storied past while looking toward the future for Machinist Union railroad workers at its seventh quadrennial convention in Denver.
It was 19 railroad machinists who founded the IAM in 1888. “It’s the genesis of our union,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger.
Today, District 19 represents 11,000 active Machinists and approximately 6,000 retired members across the country. District 19’s success can be attributed to the collective bargaining agreements its members negotiate – they fought for industry-leading wages, benefits and safety standards, and won.
“We’re going to grow and we’re going to keep negotiating the best contracts in this industry,” said IAM District 19 President and Directing General Chairman Jeff Doerr. “We’re going to protect our members. We’re going to organize new members. And we’re going to work to get more jobs with the employers we have.”
One of the year’s highlights was the conclusion to a four-year standoff between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and a coalition of seven unions representing members at the Long Island Rail Road, including District 19 and TCU-IAM.
The agreement reached in July provided members with a strong contract while averting a strike.
District 19 also fought numerous attempts to weaken contracts at rail companies that were being sold and won over $1.5 million in grievance pay for its members in the past four years.
“We never want to take for granted what we have,” said TCU-IAM National President Robert Scardelletti, “because for those who came before us, it took blood, sweat, tears and death. A lot of people died on the picket line in the early days to bring us where we are today. But this is who we are, and this is what we do. And I’ll tell you, no one does it better.”
The railroading arm of the IAM, where it all began more than 126 years ago, remains committed to the ideals it was founded upon.
“We are here for America. We want to keep our jobs here in America,” said District 19 Chairman Derrick Battle. “Let’s work together because we are one. A union is everybody working together for the same cause.”