LEADS Program Particpants pose for a Holiday photo with District 141 President, Mike Klemm (seated, on right) and Secretary-Treasurer, Alex Gerulis.

“Voisterous” Female Leadership Program Looks Ahead

Machinists District 141
15 November 2022

In September, Marilyn Loden, the author and activist who coined the term “Glass Ceiling,” died at the age of 76 after a battle with cancer. Loden first used the phrase in a panel discussion at the 1978 Women’s Action Alliance Conference in New York City, and it quickly caught fire. For years, women had noticed an invisible barrier preventing them from reaching the highest rungs of power. The term perfectly describes the invisible barriers preventing women from attaining leadership roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47% of the overall American workforce is female, and a majority, 50.2%, of college-educated workers are women. Yet, only 27% of women hold positions of real authority within their organizations.

Historically, labor unions have been at the forefront of efforts to create a more gender-neutral work environment. The Machinists Union is conducting an innovative new strategy for identifying and recruiting top female talent, which might serve as a template for other organizations.

In 2021 the Machinists Union announced the creation of the Leadership Excellence Assembly of Dedicated Sisters (LEADS) program. The mission of the LEADS program is to prepare and empower IAM sisters to step into leadership roles, emphasizing the areas of Business Representatives, Directing Business Representatives, and President/Directing General Chairs. 

“This has been a wonderful success so far,” said District President Mike Klemm, a prominent booster of the effort to bring more women into leadership positions. “We are just ending the halfway mark for the first generation of this important work, and I couldn’t be more proud of how much new female talent we’ve been able to find and elevate.”

The LEADS Program does this by having female union leadership select and mentor rising female talent from the frontlines – giving them access to real-world leadership-building situations and learning opportunities.

President and Directing General Chairman (PDGC), Mike Klemm, took this initiative seriously, implemented the program within District Lodge 141, and placed one of our most vigorous sisters in a mentorship role. Assistant General Chair (AGC) Terry Stansbury was tapped for this program as a mentor and has taken on the assignment with vigor.

Assistant General Chair (AGC) Stansbury has a long career in the airline industry that began February 12th, 1989, at United Airlines in Ontario, California. Terry has worked every position, from ramp agent to customer service. Sister Stansbury got involved with the IAM after the organizing drive of 1998 by becoming a shop steward. Terry began to rise through the ranks of the IAM, holding several positions, including committee person and local lodge president. Terry was brought on as a district educator and soon transitioned to becoming the Director of Education for District Lodge 141 in 2012. In 2014 Terry ran a successful campaign to become an AGC and has served in this position since. Sister Stansbury has an unparalleled knowledge of every aspect of Union action, including organizing, collective bargaining, and lodge administration. “With the LEADS program, we were asked that they were looking to empower more women,” said Terry, “which is awesome because we do have a lot of strong, voisterous, powerful women.”  

The two sisters assigned as mentees to AGC Stansbury are Patricia (Tria), Aumua Devoux, and Ashanta Marzett. Both of whom are lead Customer Service Representatives for United Airlines.  

Tria, based out of DFW, has been employed with United since November 2nd, 2006, and currently holds the position of shop steward and has held the position of committee person while stationed in Orange County. “She knows I’m interested in leadership not only as a woman but as a Samoan woman,” she said. “There are so many Samoan islanders that work in our industry, but we are not well represented,” she said, referring to the systemic challenges for women who are also persons of color. “Get active” is the principle that Tria stands firmly on. She hopes to see more women, specifically Samoan women, get involved and showcase their talents. 

Ashanta, based at LAX, has been employed with United since April 27th, 1999, and currently holds the positions of committee person and financial secretary of local lodge 1932. In her tenure, she suffered a furlough to Ontario, California, where she first met Terry. When the recalls came through to go back to LAX, Ashanta had been bypassed and received the news while loading luggage in the pit. She immediately called Terry and sorted out the situation to return to her original station. “It’s a little intimidating, being a female in this industry,” said Ashanta when asked about what it’s like to work in a male-dominated industry. “You don’t see a lot of us, meaning women in leadership. So you don’t believe that it’s possible,” she continued. 

 

Motherhood is another significant obstacle preventing many women from taking on leadership roles. Too often, the systems in place have forced women to choose between being a mother or career-building, something men don’t ever have to battle. This new emergence of forward-thinking women challenging the standards and adopting the mentality of being capable of having both are precisely what the LEADS program aims to empower and uplift.    

“Let me be crystal clear; our IAM Sisters must be in leadership positions at every level of our union. Not just at the local lodge level, but at the district lodge and Grand Lodge levels as well.” IP Martinez said these words while addressing students at the William W Winpisinger Center when announcing the LEADS program. The truth of these words should resonate with all of us, regardless of gender. 

Any great organization’s survival depends on its ability to adapt and change. The rising number of women in our industry shows that time is now. John C Maxwell said, “change is inevitable; growth is optional.” The Machinists of District 141 are ready and willing to lead this charge, empowering and supporting our sisters to step into leadership at all levels. Our survival is dependent upon it. We should all make it a practice to see the talent in the women that make up our membership, encourage them to bring their unique skills to the table, and hold space and a seat on their behalf.    

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“Voisterous” Female Leadership Program Looks Ahead

15 November 2022

An innovative mentorship program launched by the Machinists Union is attracting top female talent within the union.

In September, Marilyn Loden, the author and activist who coined the term “Glass Ceiling,” died at the age of 76 after a battle with cancer. Loden first used the phrase in a panel discussion at the 1978 Women’s Action Alliance Conference in New York City, and it quickly caught fire. For years, women had noticed an invisible barrier preventing them from reaching the highest rungs of power. The term perfectly describes the invisible barriers preventing women from attaining leadership roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47% of the overall American workforce is female, and a majority, 50.2%, of college-educated workers are women. Yet, only 27% of women hold positions of real authority within their organizations.

Historically, labor unions have been at the forefront of efforts to create a more gender-neutral work environment. The Machinists Union is conducting an innovative new strategy for identifying and recruiting top female talent, which might serve as a template for other organizations. 

In 2021 the Machinists Union announced the creation of the Leadership Excellence Assembly of Dedicated Sisters (LEADS) program. The mission of the LEADS program is to prepare and empower IAM sisters to step into leadership roles, emphasizing the areas of Business Representatives, Directing Business Representatives, and President/Directing General Chairs. 

“This has been a wonderful success so far,” said District President Mike Klemm, a prominent booster of the effort to bring more women into leadership positions. “We are just ending the halfway mark for the first generation of this important work, and I couldn’t be more proud of how much new female talent we’ve been able to find and elevate.”

The LEADS Program does this by having female union leadership select and mentor rising female talent from the frontlines – giving them access to valuable real-world leadership-building situations and learning opportunities.

President and Directing General Chairman (PDGC), Mike Klemm, took this initiative seriously, implemented the program within District Lodge 141, and placed one of our most vigorous sisters in a mentorship role. Assistant General Chair (AGC) Terry Stansbury was tapped for this program as a mentor and has taken on the assignment with vigor.

 

Assistant General Chair (AGC) Stansbury has a long career in the airline industry that began February 12th, 1989, at United Airlines in Ontario, California. Terry has worked every position, from ramp agent to customer service. Sister Stansbury got involved with the IAM after the organizing drive of 1998 by becoming a shop steward. Terry began to rise through the ranks of the IAM, holding several positions, including committee person and local lodge president. Terry was brought on as a district educator and soon transitioned to becoming the Director of Education for District Lodge 141 in 2012. In 2014 Terry ran a successful campaign to become an AGC and has served in this position since. Sister Stansbury has an unparalleled knowledge of every aspect of Union action, including organizing, collective bargaining, and lodge administration. “With the leads program, we were asked that they were looking to empower more women,” said Terry, “which is awesome because we do have a lot of strong, voisterous, powerful women.”  

The two sisters assigned as mentees to AGC Stansbury are Patricia (Tria), Aumua Devoux, and Ashanta Marzett. Both of whom are lead Customer Service Representatives for United Airlines. 

Tria, based out of DFW, has been employed with United since November 2nd, 2006, and currently holds the position of shop steward and has held the position of committee person while stationed in Orange County. “She knows I’m interested in leadership not only as a woman but as a Samoan woman,” she said. “There are so many Samoan islanders that work in our industry, but we are not well represented,” she said, referring to the systemic challenges for women who are also persons of color. “Get active” is the principle that Tria stands firmly on. She hopes to see more women, specifically Samoan women, get involved and showcase their talents. 

Ashanta, based at LAX, has been employed with United since April 27th, 1999, and currently holds the positions of committee person and financial secretary of local lodge 1932. In her tenure, she suffered a furlough to Ontario, California, where she first met Terry. When the recalls came through to go back to LAX, Ashanta had been bypassed and received the news while loading luggage in the pit. She immediately called Terry and sorted out the situation to return to her original station. “It’s a little intimidating, being a female in this industry,” said Ashanta when asked about what it’s like to work in a male-dominated industry. “You don’t see a lot of us, meaning women in leadership. So you don’t believe that it’s possible,” she continued. 

Motherhood is another significant obstacle preventing many women from taking on leadership roles. Too often, the systems in place have forced women to choose between being a mother or career-building, something men don’t ever have to battle. This new emergence of forward-thinking women challenging the standards and adopting the mentality of being capable of having both are precisely what the LEADS program aims to empower and uplift.

“Let me be crystal clear; our IAM Sisters must be in leadership positions at every level of our union. Not just at the local lodge level, but at the district lodge and Grand Lodge levels as well.” IP Martinez said these words while addressing students at the William W Winpisinger Center when announcing the LEADS program. The truth of these words should resonate with all of us, regardless of gender. 

Any great organization’s survival depends on its ability to adapt and change. The rising number of women in our industry shows that time is now. John C Maxwell said, “change is inevitable; growth is optional.” The Machinists of District 141 are ready and willing to lead this charge, empowering and supporting our sisters to step into leadership at all levels. Our survival is dependent upon it. We should all make it a practice to see the talent in the women that make up our membership, encourage them to bring their unique skills to the table, and hold space and a seat on their behalf.  

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