The Spanish Leadership I program held its first class for 2017, which included members from across the U.S., including Puerto Rico.
The Spanish Leadership Working Group, SLWG, celebrated its first Spanish class for 2017, and the first class entering the second decade for the Spanish program, as they welcomed IAM members from across the territories for Spanish Leadership I at the Winpisinger Education Center.
The celebration was twofold as some of the original founding members of the SLWG returned to W3 to teach the classes they were tasked to develop over a decade ago. The bold and visionary decision by the IAM Executive Council to offer classes in Spanish was at first met with resistance, but due to demographic changes within the IAM membership, was eventually seen as an opportunity for growth.
“Teaching us here in Spanish is very important to me personally,” said Laredo, TX Local 166 Trustee Sylvia Garcia. “Because these programs can help people who cannot speak English find solutions to their problems and give them all the information they need.”
“I’m in Spanish Leadership I and I’m here to learn about the organization, my work and to have a good understanding of my contract,” said Puerto Rico Local 2725 shop steward Milton Cintron Pacheco. “I feel the most excellent part is having an education center that is complete, that teaches what I need, so I can help the people back at work.”
Many of original members of the SLWG have moved on to other positions within the IAM. They continue to help with programs when available, as they understand the importance of these classes. The program was conducted simultaneously with the English Leadership I program, which gave participants the opportunity to share their common struggles and enhance the union’s solidarity.
“When I arrived here, I noticed that the IAM supported different cultures, different backgrounds and people from different countries,” said St. Cloud, MN Local 623 shop steward/co-chair Hamse Yusuf. “The IAM wants to educate us, and when we get educated we can spread that knowledge to where we came from. I’m really glad that I got the chance and I really hope I can help make a change.”
Today, the Spanish program at the center has expanded its curriculum to include special course topics such as Collective Bargaining and Organizing I. Hundreds of members have come through the Spanish program and moved into leadership roles within IAM locals, districts, and territories applying the skills they have acquired. The Spanish program is a testament to the executive council’s vision through the decision made a decade ago.
The next Spanish program to be held is Organizing I from April 30 to May 5.