Summer of Solidarity at “Airline Local” 1833 in MSP!

Summer of Solidarity at “Airline Local” 1833 in MSP!

The Minnesota State Fair is the perfect place to show union pride and solidarity. “Airline Local” 1833 President Mary Sansom is going to make sure that the Machinists Union are front and center. Photo Credit: Minnesota State Fair Planning Committee

Summer of Solidarity at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Service to the Community
2 September 2022

Going back as far as anyone can remember, Airline Local 1833 has held a prominent role at the Minnesota State Fair, which the locals call the “Great Get-Together.” The Get-Together, which began as a way for area farmers to close out the Mid Western summer growing season, attracts more attendees yearly than any other state fair in the US. 

Notable among the children sporting farmer-themed face paint, musical acts, and concession stands are an impressive cadre of labor unions. Led by the Minnesota AFL-CIO, working Mid Westerners represented at the Fair include Iron and Sheet Metal Workers, Educators, and Medical Workers, among others. And, right in the center of them all, in the very heart of the Fair itself, is Mary Sansom. Mary is the President of “Airline Local” 1833 in Minneapolis, representing Union Members at Southwest Airlines and United, both of which are home to increasingly tense labor negotiations. “Don’t forget Southwest!” Mary quickly reminded me when I called her this afternoon about her Local’s support of the Get-Together and her brief meeting with US Senator and former Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar. The Local is also home to area workers at American Airlines, which settled their contract just as COVID-19 was starting.

I found out that Klobuchar had stopped by the Machinists Union kiosk at the Get-Together when Brian Vega texted me a photo of Mary standing next to Klobuchar, holding a “CONTRACT NOW” flyer, which have become ubiquitous at United Airlines. Brian is the Social and Video Media Coordinator for Machinists Union District 141.

“When it comes to our union, Klobuchar just breezes through like that,” Mary said of the encounter. “She stands with us on most issues,” she said. “And, there are a few areas where she needs a little more encouragement from us,” she said laughingly. Told of the ongoing tensions surrounding contract negotiations, the Senator responded simply, “So I’ve heard.” “Klobuchar and the Machinists Union haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on every issue,” Mary said of the Senator. “But, if she’s here to support our Contract Negotiations at United and Southwest, she’s on the right track.”

In addition to Klobuchar, Minnesota Representatives Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, and members of Machinists Union District 77 also stopped by to show solidarity for airline workers engaged in contract negotiations.

“Southwest has been working under an amendable contract since 2018,” Mary explained. “And now if we add all our members at United, there’s a lot of airline workers getting fed up.”

Mary, who leads the yearly effort to bring the Machinists Union to the Fair, said that politics are far from the main reason for attending. “I’ve been here for 48 years,” she said. “And, this has been going on for at least that long,” continued, explaining that the long-standing tradition of Machinists Union support for the State Fair and surrounding region is an integral part of the culture of Local 1833. “The Nurses Union out here could be facing a strike,” she said. We want to stand in solidarity with them right now. We also want to show support for Starbucks workers who are organizing, and Trader Joe’s and Amazon,” she continued. “These are new unions,” she said, “and they could use a hand. We need to stand with our union brothers and sisters when it matters.”

No Amazon facility in Minneapolis has been successfully organized thus far. However, one of the Staten Island Sorting Facility’s lead organizers, the Nation’s first to form a union successfully, will be a featured guest at the upcoming Machinists District Convention in Orlando, Florida. Tristan Lion Dutchin, who helped lead the effort to unionize Amazon, has been a frequent attendee at organizing events at JetBlue’s JFK hub, alongside Machinists Union organizers. 

According to Mary, networking is a vital part of unionism, both with other unions and within the communities they call home. “We’re out here to make State Fair visitors aware of the work that Unions do and why we’re still relevant,” she said. “A lot of your neighbors might be union, and you’d never know it,” she said, explaining why community involvement is critical to unions. 

An easy walk from political headquarters, it is not uncommon for elected representatives to stop by the Machinists Union kiosk at the Minnesota State Fair. Above, United States Representative Angie Craig (in red), and below, US Representative Dean Phillips took a moment to show support for Machinist Union Members engaged in ongoing contract talks with United and Southwest.

“Plus,” she said, “this is great for our members!” Mary detailed the vital role retirees play in setting up the Machinists Union Kiosk and the crash course that new Union Stewards get when they’re thrown into the mix. “It’s a lot to have thrown at them, but they meet everyone and just learn so fast,” Mary explained of volunteers experiencing their first time at the Fair. Mary has had time to be well-versed on the topic of unionism in her decades within the airline industry. A former employee at Northwest, she famously quit the airline bcause she refused to work for a non-union carrier. Over the years, she has served as a trusted mentor for generations of new union members in Minneapolis. 

The next morning, Mary passed the Machinists Kiosk over to Local 1833 Trustee Jan Haber, Local 623 (St. Cloud, MN) union member Joe Baretta and District 77 Rep Andrew Peltier who were left with staffing duties and a request for pictures.

“I’m really excited about Joe and Andrew because this is the first time in a very long time that the other IAM members from the other industries in MN have staffed the kiosk,” she said.

Which is why Mary has decided to defiantly place the Machinists Union directly in the heart of the largest State Fair in the Nation. “We have prime real estate on the State Fairgrounds,” Mary said. “We’re in the middle of everything,” she said of the location of the Local 1833 Fair Kiosk. The DNC has an office right there, so anyone trying to get elected or re-elected needs to come right past us” she said, “and the AFL-CIO is just next door, and there’s a beer hall right across the road,” she said with a laugh. “Everyone wants to be here, but we won’t surrender our spot.”

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Chicago Guide Dog Golf Outing Raises Funds, Spirits

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Meet Sheldon! Sheldon is a “Puppy in Training” for a bright future in the field of Guide Dogging. Sheldon is just one of the service canines that Guide Dogs of America raises and trains each year. Dogs like Sheldon transform the lives of children with autism, veterans facing PTSD challenges, and the visually impaired. The Golf Outing featuring Sheldon is held each year at Chicago’s IAM Local 1487, which raises as much as $10,000 for this important cause. 

Chicago Guide Dog Golf Outing Raises Funds and Spirits

Community Service
18 August 2022

“He’s a massive baby,” Zack Gittlan said apologetically of the 11-month-old Golden Retriever named Sheldon, who was enthusiastically greeting guests at the annual Golf Outing Charity hosted by Chicago’s Local 1487.

Sheldon, wearing a bright yellow “Puppy in Training” vest is one of the 120 service dogs that Guide Dogs of America raises each year. Each animal will help to improve the lives of people who are visually impaired or children dealing with autism, as well as veterans facing challenges related to PTSD. In addition, Guide Dogs of America provides highly-trained service dogs to facilities such as children’s hospitals, schools, and courtrooms. 

“It takes about two years to raise and train a dog,” Zack said. “We train them to focus on their owners, and to ignore all the things that might distract a pet, like sights, sounds, smells… there’s just a million things that would keep a pet dog occupied. A guide dog has to  be able to overcome those things and provide instant assistance and companionship,” he said. 

But, it truly takes a village to produce the highly skilled canines to become trusted best friends and eager helpers. “It costs about $60,000 to breed, train, and deliver each guide dog,” Zack said. “And we provide all these services to people in need at no cost to them,” he added. “That’s why we are so appreciative of the hard work and support that the Machinists Union provides to us.”

Machinists Union Local 1487 in Chicago has been at the forefront of the effort to support Guide Dogs of America for years. According to the union’s district Community Service Director, Cristina Odoardi, the local has raised “well over $50,000 so far this year,” on behalf of the charity. But, says Cristina, the efforts serve as more than just fundraisers. “We are also strengthening our networks within the community. We’re building bridges and making friends, which is important,” she said. “Plus, we get a chance to meet each other outside of work, and provide opportunities for union members to become more involved,” she said as she detailed examples of community work leading to new shop stewards and heightened volunteerism. 

The Golf Outing itself takes about six months to plan and execute, according to Chicago’s Recording Secretary, Greg Klujewski. “We work on a series of events each year, to raise money and build awareness for Guide Dogs, and also to build community with each other,” he said. “I am deeply humbled and appreciative of the overwhelming support that our union and community have extended to us to make this get-together a success,” he said. “Today, 144 people signed up from all over the country.  “And, every level of our union is represented, from our local lodge to District 141, Air Transport, and the Grand Lodge are here. We have our District President Mike Klemm out here supporting us, and General Vice President Richard Johnsen, and we are grateful for their participation and encouragement.” 

 

“I want to commend Local Lodge 1487’s President, Tony Licciardi and Greg Klujewski for all their work making this happen,” said District President Mike Klemm. “We’re out here bonding and creating a more unified front as we continue to push United Airlines to negotiate a fair contract for our members,” he said. “Events like this create stronger bonds within our union and communities, and at the same time we’re out here supporting a great cause.”

At a boisterous after-event appreciation dinner, General Vice President cheered on the local. Saying “events like this are the crown jewel of our organiazation,” he praised the solidarity it promoted as well as its effectiveness as a fundraiser. District 141 President Mike Klemm also spoke, thanking the attendees and speaking for a few moments about the ongoing efforts the negotiate a contract at United.

Zack Gitland also thanked the Local for its efforts. In a heartfelt statement to the membership, he said that the annual golf outing was among his favorite events to attend. “You guys got to see old friends and golf,” he said. “I get to see the lives you’re changing. I get to see the child with autism that can live a more normal life, thanks to the work you’re doing. I get to see the veteran who needed the love and companionship of his new service dog. I get to see people with a disability who can live independently for the first time. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

 

 

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Home Town Pride: Lodge 811 Continues A Long-Standing Commitment to Community Service with Annual Toy Drive for Pediatric Cancer Patients

Commitment To the Community: Local 811 Toy Drive for Pediatric Cancer Patients

Local Lodge 811’s Women’s Committee recently dropped off a large donation of toys from their latest toy collection project for Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas.

In previous years the local donated any type of toy to all children at the hospital, but this time, the committee chose to collect specific toys for bed-ridden pediatric cancer patients: puzzles, word games, books, and hand-held electronics.

Local 811 Secretary Treasurer Sarah Monderoy Garcia has been on the Women’s Committee since 2013. She, Lodge 811 Vice President Nelson Yanes, Trustee Adrienne Coleman, Charlotte Lazard, and Evelita Everitt make up 811’s Women’s Committee, which is continually collecting donations for different organizations.

“We’re always doing some type of drive, whether it’s toiletries, clothing, or toys. We like to target different areas of need in the community,” said Garcia.

The committee encouraged members to bring donations to union meetings and advertised with flyers on the break-room bulletin boards at George Bush Intercontinental Houston Airport (IAH) where Local 811 members work for United Airlines as ramp service employees, ground crew, and stores material specialists (members who work side-by-side with mechanics to provide parts for planes).

The committee strategically decides to host their toy drives in the summer time, the “off-season,” because hospitals typically receive an abundance of toy donations over the holidays but are running low and have new patients come summer.

Richard Johnsen, General Vice President of the Machinists’ newly formed Air Transport Territory, expressed optimism that the Machinists and the ALU could forge a strong alliance. “We are more than just unions,” said Johnsen. “We’re also part of a movement. People are tired of sitting on the sidelines. They want to act, they want to make changes. That’s why this campaign at JetBlue is so exciting; it’s a vital part of a larger movement to prove that working people deserve just as much respect as managers and executives.”

Johnsen also pledged to work closely with the ALU, including hammering out a potential agreement to open the renowned Winpisinger Education Center to ALU members. “The Winpisinger Center is the largest labor school in North America,” he said. “It has an expert teaching staff that holds classes on things that matter to unions. Things like contract negotiations, leadership training, arbitration, organizing and more. It’ll be a great asset to JetBlue Crewmembers once they come on board, and I hope that ALU members will look into the opportunity to find out more about the Winpisinger Center.”

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Machinist Member Brings Service, Support to Ukraine

Machinist Member Brings Service, Support to Ukraine

IAM Member Travels Across World, Puts Life at Risk to Aid Ukrainian People

iMail
30 May 2022

Since the war in Ukraine began in February, IAM Local 2379 (District 160) Recording Secretary Brian Urban has taken two trips to the war-torn country, spending more than a month total providing humanitarian aid to those in need.

Featured image: IAM Local 2379 Recording Secretary Brian Urban, in sunglasses with a black jacket and green shirt, attends a funeral for fallen Ukrainian soldiers.

Urban’s efforts, in conjunction with other volunteers, non-profit organizations and the Ukrainian people, have focused on transporting refugees to safety, providing medical supplies and training, and distributing other critical supplies such as encrypted radios.

Urban estimates he has helped transport nearly 2,000 people, mostly women and children, across the Ukrainian border into Poland and Romania. He’s even helped expose human trafficking of refugees and alert authorities of those in danger.

Like others providing aid in Ukraine, Urban, 42, has witnessed firsthand the dangerous reality of working in a war zone—and he’s no stranger to it. Before taking an IAM job at Alcoa Intalco Works in Ferndale, WA, a community where he lives and where the IAM is working to restore critical aluminum smelter jobs, Urban had worked as a civilian contractor in conflict zones around the world.

In Lviv, a rocket exploded only 500 yards away from him. 

“The opposition was targeting any humanitarian aid – any ambulances, any transport for refugees,” said Urban. “If there was a military vehicle and an ambulance, [the opposition] would hit the ambulance first.”

Urban traveled with a friend, Gerri, who found a man and a woman gravely injured by landmines in a field. With tourniquets and other donated medical supplies in hand, Gerri risked his own safety to go into the minefield and bring them to safety.

The woman survived but lost multiple limbs. The man passed away.

“When the opposition forces pull out of an area, they are using landmines and grenades, booby traps and nails in the roads—whatever they can do to inflict as much damage and pain as they can,” said Urban. “If we didn’t have eyes on something the whole time, we didn’t touch it.”

Urban credits support from his family and the community, including his fellow IAM Local 2379 members, for making the humanitarian trips possible through donations.

“I’m always amazed to see my Brothers and Sisters come together—it’s no different whether it’s Ukraine or someone who got injured at work,” said Urban. “I’m just blown away by their generosity and compassion.”

Local 2379’s Luke Ackerson, now a District 160 Business Representative, had instilled that spirit of giving, said Urban.

“It was a mindset that Luke had set for us in our Local,” said Urban. “I’m very proud to think back and realize that the IAM is supportive of that kind of stuff. It’s not just a one-time thing, it’s a cultural thing.”

“Brother Brian’s efforts to help the Ukrainian people are nothing short of heroic,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “The IAM Western Territory, District 160 and Local 2379 are so proud to support Brian and his mission to deliver aid and comfort to people in need.”

The IAM is also engaged with labor allies in Ukraine and around the world to help provide aid, restore peace and preserve workers’ and human rights.

“The IAM will always stand with the people of Ukraine and for freedom and democracy,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr., who recently had a call with Ukrainian labor leaders. “Our entire union will always be grateful for Brian’s bravery and determination to help our Ukrainian Brothers and Sisters.”

Urban also thanks his family—his wife, Stacia, two sons, Austen and Jordan, and a daughter, Elizabeth—for supporting and blessing his trips.

It is those on the ground, seeing their homeland under siege in Ukraine, whom Urban has grown to admire and respect immensely.

“It’s complete and utter destruction,” said Urban.

He marvels at seeing both the “absolute best” and the “absolute worst of mankind” in Ukraine.

While providing aid across the country, Ukrainians have offered Urban the last of their little bit of food out of gratitude for his help.

“It’s so humbling and it’s so amazing,” said Urban. “They have opened their arms for help, but they definitely don’t want a handout.”

The Ukrainians he has worked with, both with and without combat experience, “are second to none,” Urban said.

“I love them to death,” said Urban. “They are amazingly brave. If I pushed forward, they were right there with me.”

And Urban plans to go to Ukraine again. After telling his father that he was planning a third trip, his dad asked him if he had “left something [in Ukraine].”

“Yes,” replied Urban. “I left some good people.”

Want to help? Urban’s personal recommendations are to give to the Freedom Shield Foundation and Waterfall, which are both providing direct aid to Ukrainians right now.

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A Girl, a Scholarship, and a Dream

A Girl, a Scholarship, and a Dream

The IAMAW Scholarship Competition is open each year to members of the IAM and their children throughout the United States and Canada under procedures and rules of eligibility explained in this Announcement. The IAM Scholarship Fund, which is used exclusively to make possible these awards, was established by the delegates of the 1960 IAM Grand Lodge Convention. More information can be found here.

A Girl, a Scholarship, and a Dream

As Rachel Steele prepares to earn her doctorate in 2022, she looks back on how much an IAM scholarship meant to her back in 2003. Her father, Thomas Steele, was working for Boeing that year and she was featured in the IAM Journal as one of several scholarship winners.  The younger Steele feels the timing of her PhD candidacy, her dad’s retirement, and the current call for scholarship applicants is special.

She says her father ”worked tirelessly when we were growing up. He had to travel a lot, so he wasn’t always home and now as an adult, I realize how much of a sacrifice that was.”

Rachel originally wrote to IAM District 837 President and Directing Business Representative Tom Boelling, looking for a way to thank her dad in a follow-up to the 2003 edition of the IAM Journal.

“We’re so proud of Rachel and what she’s accomplished,” Boelling said. “We congratulate her on reaching the highest academic level of her educational career and congratulate her father, Thomas, on his retirement from Boeing.”

“Thank you for having the foresight for creating a scholarship,” Rachel said. 

Her advice for applicants? “Have confidence, especially if you’re a first-generation student. You deserve the recognition. It’s an amazing privilege. Be true to yourself. Tell your story in your own voice. Everyone has a story.”

“Congratulations to both Rachel on her upcoming doctorate and Thomas on his much-deserved retirement,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “The IAM has always placed a high value on education, from funding scholarships for IAM members and their families to advocating for a national investment in skills training. Rachel’s story shows how important the IAM Scholarship is to so many IAM families. Any eligible members or their children may apply for this life-changing scholarship to college or technical school.”

To apply for the 2022 IAM Scholarship Competition, your packet must be completed and postmarked by February 11, 2022.