Ken Theide Recognized for 65 Years of Machinists Union Action

Ken Theide Recognized for 65 Years of Machinists Union Action

Ken Theide Recognized for 65 Years of Machinists Union Action

Retirees Club
10 June 2022

Chicago’s Local 1487 honored Ken Thiede for his 65 years of service to the Machinists Union.

Longtime Labor leader Ken Thiede was honored this week for 65 years of service to the Machinists Union. The ceremony commemorating his remarkable union career was held at the June Retirees Club meeting at Chicago’s Local 1487.

The event attracted about one hundred friends, labor activists, and well-wishers. Ken was presented with a 65-year service pin and certificate by Local President Tony Licciardi.

“Brother Ken Thiede is celebrating his 65th anniversary in the IAM, said Licciardi to the gathering. “It is an absolute honor and privilege to stand up here today and recognize his lifetime of service.”

Ken’s 65 years as a unionist have given him a front-row seat to many of the most meaningful events in the modern history of the Machinists Union.

Ken Thiede was initiated into the IAM on March 29th, 1957, when air travel was still a novelty for most American travelers. He began his career at Capital Airlines and quickly established himself as a strong unionist. He found himself involved in no fewer than three strike actions –  a rare feat for those in the airline industry where strikes are uncommon.

The first strike he participated in was the massive Machinist-led strike against five separate airlines in the busy summer season of 1966 to win decent wages. The Machinists, including Ken, were able to secure a 6% raise but were forced to ground Eastern, Northwest, United, TWA, and Ken’s employer, Northern Airlines. The strike lasted 43 days and drew the involvement of Lyndon Johnson’s administration in the effort to reach an agreement. The strike grounded about 60% of all air travel in the United States.

In 1975, Ken participated in a 17-day winter strike that resulted in higher wages and better benefits in the airline industry. The 1978 strike action was the longest, stretching on for 58 days, nearly two full months.

Ken’s union service saw him fill an astounding array of roles on behalf of Machinists Union Members. He served as Recording Secretary of his Chicago-based Local 1487, and later took a position on the local’s Grievance Committee. In that role, he brilliantly defended the rights of airline workers and enforced the hard-won contracts that Machinists had negotiated within the airline industry. In 1976, he was made Assistant General Chair, a title he held proudly until 1992.

He became President of Machinists District 141 in 1992, before becoming President of it’s sister District, District 141M in 1998. Ken began his well-deserved retirement in 2000, but he has never stopped his strong union advocacy.

“Ken, I can’t thank you enough for all the support and guidance you’ve provided throughout the years,” Local President Tony Licciardi said during the ceremony. “Even in retirement, your involvement with our organization can’t be matched by anyone in our union,” he continued.

The Local 1487 Retirees Club is among the most active such groups in the Machinists Union. The Club meets at the Local Lodge building on the first Thursday of each month, at 11:00 am and is open to all Local 1487 retirees and their families. Anyone in the Chicago area who is interested in participating can contact Club President, David Roderick at


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141 Report – Retirement is a big decision.

141 Report – Retirement is a big decision.

This week, the District 141 Report covers retirement, retirement planning and why retirees should stay active in their unions.

141 Report – Retirement is a big decision.

This week’s 141 Report includes Paul Platt, the President of Local 2765 in San Diego, and Orlando’s John Staton, who serves as A District 141 Vice President At-Large. Also appearing on the program are Karen Carney, Local 1487 Retiree’s Club President, and Dave Roderick, IAMAW District 141 Legislative Director and recent retiree from United Airlines.

The 20-year Machinists Union Member, Paul Platt, begins the report by informing viewers about a recent retirement event held at the San Diego Local Lodge. “Due to covid restriction, the last year and a half many members took an early out and the union was unable to do any honoring celebration for the members,” said Platt.  “2765 reached out to those we could and had a retirement party at our local lodge,” he continued.

 “We’re amalgamated United upstairs and downstairs, American downstairs, Southwest upstairs, Alaska upstairs and Hawaiian.” The Local currently has about 400 members in the local. The celebration went well, with 45 to 60 retirees recognized by the Lodge. The Lodge also provided tacos for the attendees. The Local also purchased retirement watches for the Brothers and Sisters, and award certificates were given to the members from their carriers.

Paul finished up by saying, “I encourage any local if you can do something for them because a lot of the people that came were very grateful for this small thing we could do.”

The 141 Report then moved to Orlando, Florida, to talk to 30-year United Airlines Ramp Serviceman John Staton, who has been the VP At-Large to District Lodge 141 since last year. Host Dave asked John about retirement information, and John briefed the viewers on how easy it is for members to contact him or District 141 AGC Mike Cyscon for questions about retirement. John then continued to walk the viewers through the website, covering information from credit unions to 401K and reminding members to get a financial planner.

Brother John wanted to remind members that retirement can take time to plan out and encouraged those nearing retirement to start the process early. John says to allow at least six months to get Everything in place before retiring from work.

After retirement, John also encouraged retirees to stay active with their Local Lodge, saying, “they can still stay involved in the local lodges. The retirees paved the way for all of us.”

Dave then welcomed Sister Karen, hired in 1968 with United Airlines and retired in 2003 after 35 years of service. She became the President of the Retirees Club in 2015 and has served in that capacity for six years. Over 225 retirees remain active with the club, with an average of 60 to 125 attending each monthly meeting. Sister Karen reports the recent retiree trip to Lake Geneva, where 40 members traveled around the lake for lunch on a cruise. 

Sister Karen says, “it helps to keep in touch” when asked about the importance of being an active member.

Dave Roderick, our Director of Legislation, was asked if topics come up about politicians attacking or going after retirees benefits at meetings. Brother Roderick replied, “Everything is important. I have made comments about the impotence to Vote” He goes on to say that he “wants to make members aware of what they’re voting for.” 

In closing, Karen said, “Wish I could have done this sooner! I would encourage everyone, there are a lot of agents newly retired, but we try to keep them informed and trying to get more people in. We had 25 new people sign up,” over the past weeks.

Roderick closed by saying, “anyone who is a member of 1487 is welcomed to join the club.”


Change to PBGC Policy Expands Benefits

Change to PBGC Policy Expands Benefits

Dear Member of IAM District Lodge 141:

We are writing to inform you about a special benefit offered by IAM District Lodge 141: the Adolph Stutz Memorial Scholarship. Each year, our District awards several scholarships to qualified and deserving members — or their children, grandchildren, or spouses 

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Change to PBGC Policy Expands Benefits

Some IAMAW union members stand to gain from a recent change to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp (PBGC) policy regarding the payment of retiree benefits.

In the past, only retirees could collect benefits from any plan terminated by the employer and taken over by the PBGC. The change allows employees who are still on the payroll to receive benefits.

This change will take effect on June 1, 2021.

The new rules apply to any employee of any company who has had their pension terminated and taken over by the PBGC.

To find out if you are eligible to receive benefits under the new plan, please contact the PBGC directly. Representatives can guide you through the process and give you an estimate of what you are entitled to receive.

The PBGC may be contacted through their website, at or on the phone at 1-800-400-7242. 



President & Directing General Chair,
District 141,
International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers

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Machinists & Aerospace Union Members Provide Support for Veterans

Machinists & Aerospace Union Members Provide Support for Veterans

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Machinists & Aerospace Union Members Provide Support for Veterans

The IAM’s Veterans Services program is reporting a boost in recruitment. The program, which is under the union’s Retirees and Membership Assistance Department, was created in 2016 and continues its growth in popularity. Enrollment is up from 2,400 in July 2020 to 4,100 as of this February.

“Seeing an opportunity to increase interest and further expand the program, we wanted to ramp up our efforts by reaching out to everyone,” said IAM Retirees and Membership Assistance Director Ed Manhart, who manages the IAM’s military veteran outreach. “It’s the least we can do for their selfless acts of courage and sacrifices they made for our country.”

The program provides an extensive range of services such as the IAM Employee Assistance Program. It also offers help to veterans struggling with PTSD, mental health problems and/or substance abuse. Veterans can attend week-long seminars at the union-owned and operated Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, MD. One particular segment of the training helps military veterans navigate through the often-complicated and difficult tasks of filing benefit claims with the federal government. All IAM membership services are free of charge.

The IAM encourages military veterans to enroll in the program by visiting its website or submitting paper applications. In early January of this year, the Veterans Services program launched the latest veterans outreach effort by sending packets of application forms to all IAM districts and locals across the country. The project is proving successful through an increased awareness, interest and participation in this valuable IAM member service benefit. 

If you’d like to register for the program, please visit the IAM Veterans Services page or sign up by way of tablet at your local or district.


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Roberto Mendez, Longtime Machinists & Aerospace Union Activist, Retires After a 36 Year Career

Roberto Mendez, Longtime Machinists & Aerospace Union Activist, Retires After a 36 Year Career

Roberto Mendez is retiring after a 36 year career at United Airlines. His work as a union activist has helped deliver thousands of meals, toys and vital assistance to thousands of grateful recipients within his community. Over the years, Roberto has served as a Union Steward, a Local Lodge Trustee, an EAP Rep, and Regional EAP Coordinator. 

(Below, Roberto Mendez with incoming Regional EAP Coordinator, Noelle Sakamoto at a recent food drive.)

Roberto Mendez, Longtime Machinists & Aerospace Union Activist, Retires After a 36 Year Career

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Labor groups praise the career of Machinists & Aerospace activist Roberto Mendez on his retirement from United Airlines after 36 years of service.

Roberto Mendez could not have known how important his career path would become when he was hired to work in the United Airlines Flight Kitchens more than three decades ago. In 1984, Roberto was a young, modest employee at the airline’s peripherals, working his way from food prep to Cabin Cleaner, ultimately earning a position at the Maintenance Base. 

With a reputation for kind honesty and a willingness to work hard, Roberto became an active member of IAMAW Local 1781 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He quickly established himself as a trusted voice on behalf of his coworkers, serving as Shop Steward, Local Lodge Trustee, and Chairman of the 1781 Community Service Committee. As Chairman, he helped lead the 1781 Committee to become one of the nation’s most effective Community Service operations. 

After 9/11, Roberto began partnering with the San Mateo Labor Council to expand the role of unions in historically under-represented communities. Working alongside Labor Council Community Services Director Rayna Lehman, their partnership set up programs that helped thousands of union members in the region. The collaboration also led to the creation of a large-scale, labor-run food distribution network in San Mateo County involving the Second Harvest Silicon Valley Food Bank. The food distribution program is still operating, helping families on a regular, ongoing basis. 

As the efforts grew in complexity and size, Roberto became instrumental in food-distribution efforts that have lasted over 17 years. 

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Roberto partnered again with the San Mateo Labor Council to help provide for union families, delivering more than 1,700 free and healthy meals a month. Dubbed the “Union Grab and Go Food Distribution,” the program was run from the Local 1781 parking lot. 

In 2003, Roberto was named the District 141 EAP West Coast Coordinator, a position he used to “save jobs and save lives,” according to the San Mateo Labor Council, who recently praised his years of activism at their August Membership Meeting. At the ceremony, a member rose to give credit to Roberto for saving his life after the member fell victim to a downward spiral of substance abuse. 

IAM Local and District officers were quick to thank Roberto for his years of service and sacrifice. 

 “Roberto is the epitome of a service-oriented EAP professional, always there when needed,” said District 141 EAP National Director, Bryan Hutchinson. “How can I help?” “Tell me what you need. That’s Roberto,” he said. 

 San Mateo Labor Council Executive Secretary-General Julie Lind also praised Roberto for his “unity and thoughtfulness.” Noting Roberto’s years of partnership with the Council and other community groups, Lind said, “He always put the good of the Council before any and all potential divisive issues that arose; always a calm, analytical voice,” she told the assembly. 

 Roberto’s work in community service and food distribution efforts inspired his longtime partner, San Mateo Labor Council Community Service Director Reyna Lehman, to offer some of the most heartfelt praise. “In the world of work, the highest compliment you can give is to call a coworker a colleague and in the world of life, the highest compliment is to call someone a friend. And, Roberto is both of those to me.” 

 Lehman described the millions of pounds of food they had distributed, the thousands of toys, and the hundreds of workshops and training programs they had provided to those in need. 

 “Roberto has been a source of pride for our district and our union,” said IAMAW 141 President and Directing General Chair, Mike Klemm. “I want to congratulate, from the bottom of my heart, Brother Roberto Mendez, for his years of service and his well-deserved retirement. He’s helped establish our union as a compassionate, professional, and dedicated group of workers who want to work together to make the world a better place.”

 Now that they are both retired, Roberto and Maria, his wife of 45 years, plan to enjoy more baseball games and time with grandchildren.


It’s Time to Enroll in the IAM Group Medicare Plan

It’s Time to Enroll in the IAM Group Medicare Plan

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It’s Time to Enroll in the IAM Group Medicare Plan

The IAM has worked for months to negotiate a new Group Medicare plan for Medicare-eligible retirees, spouses, surviving spouses, and Medicare-eligible dependents. The IAM Group Medicare plan allows individuals to enroll throughout the year. You can apply up until December 31, 2020, for a January 1, 2021, effective date.

We are excited to announce a new partnership with Employee Benefit Systems and TLC Insurance Group. This plan can help serve the Medicare needs for our Medicare-eligible retirees, their spouses, and surviving spouses. This new best-in-class IAM Group Medicare Advantage plan, offered through Humana, is rich in benefits.

Visit for more information. Here are some of the benefits that IAM retirees are so excited about:

  1. Available in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia;
  2. National Passive Group Medicare PPO Plan that allows members to use the doctor and hospital of their choice nationally;
  3. In network and out of network benefits are identical;
  4. Robust Prescription Group Plan included;
  5. Low out of pocket maximum;
  6. No deductibles on the IAMAW Group plan;
  7. Low copays! Primary Care Physician – $0 copay    Specialist – $30 copay 

Call the exclusive toll free phone number (1-800-833-2411 – Humana Enrollment Department) for questions and enrollment assistance.

Retiree participation is not mandatory. Enrollment into the plan is by self-choice. However, we highly suggest that all retirees compare the benefits of this new IAM Group Medicare plan, with their current coverage, prior to making any decision on their 2021 Medicare healthcare options.

Visit for more information.