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What began as a plan to have a small retirement party for 49 Storekeepers who chose United’s voluntary separation programs turned into a day-long celebration for all Machinists Union members in SFO.

141 Report: “A Proper Send-Off” in SFO Celebrates Retirements and Solidarity

Jul 30, 2021

Over 1,000 union members from Local Lodges 1781 and 1782 in Burlingame, CA enjoyed food, live music, games, and camaraderie while saluting their brothers and sisters moving on to new horizons after their service at United, American, Hawaiian and other carriers.

Dave Lehive talks with Chris Lusk, Committee Chair and Vice President of Local 1781, who also serves as Vice President, West of District 141, and with Olu Ajetomobi, Assistant General Chair for District 141.

AGC Troy Rivera joins the conversation on a video clip, where he tells how his plan blossomed into a celebration and proper send-off for 285 retirees that all members could enjoy. The original group of 5 planners turned into an organizing committee that had 35 volunteers on the day of the event. “It was a pretty well-oiled machine,” said Chris Lusk.

The organizers had gathered 650 RSVPs on their social media posts, but once they shared pictures of the setup on the morning of the event, phones and social media websites exploded with excitement and more RSVPs. Attendance numbers are not finalized, but they expect they had “well over” 1,000 participants. The event was open to all IAM members working at United, American, Hawaiian, and Flagship Services in SFO. 

Four food trucks, which earned “rave reviews,” kept members and their families well fed, along with a beautifully displayed dessert table featuring the IAM logo. Members also enjoyed live music, games, and raffles. 

The most popular feature was a “dunk tank” where members had the opportunity to hit a target that sent their favorite AGC or local officer into a water tank for good fun and to raise money for Guide Dogs of America, the Machinists Union favorite charity. Cristina Odoardi, District 141 Community Services Director, was on hand and helped coordinate that part of the event.  

There were also opportunities for members to learn more about the Machinists Non-Partisan Political League (MNPL), the Retiree Club, and other ways to stay involved in the union. 

Brother Olu Ajetonobi says many retirees “just drop by,” but members of the Retiree Club are active in the local’s community service events, such as food drives. 

The celebration left IAM members, guests, and families wanting more. Hearing comments such as “when’s the next event, what can I do to help?” encouraged Chris to declare that ”this will be an ongoing event.” He encouraged every local to take time to celebrate our bonds and solidarity.