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Organizing With the IAMAW, the Largest Aerospace and Defense Union in North America


"There are 2 kinds of people, folks that go through life taking mistreatment and disrespect with a smile and a nod, and there's folks that refuse to sacrifice their dignity in exchange for a substandard paycheck. Those folks are called Fighting Machinists!"




In today's manufacturing facilities' production output is at a record high, which in turn has caused profits to reach peaks never before seen by corporate boards. Companies often set goals that are almost unreachable, but due to raw American pride; the workforce does everything it can to meet them. However, companies have a nasty habit of constantly raising the bar just out of reach and It's no wonder workers are growing increasingly bitter about their employers after reaching goals, maximizing output and making record profits for their employers while receiving peanuts in return.



What Can They Do?

"In school, we learn about our constitutional rights, government, and the judicial system. What we are not taught in school is that there is a government department to protect working people. The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, it states that you have the right as an American to join, form, and participate in concerted activity involving Labor Unions.

Labor Unions still exist today, because when a company becomes too large, the human element disappears. The workers are no longer viewed as people, just risk assessment data, and profit producing assets that can easily be replaced when the asset is worn out or no longer serves its value. I’m not referring to your supervisor, they are in that place every day to pay the rent and feed a family just like you. I’m referring to the people who run your company, the majority shareholder, the Board of Directors, The CEO, CFO, COO, the bean counters they hire to optimize their business strategy. To them, you are not a human being, just another piece of human capital to be used as they please to maximize output and profits. These people will never see you as an individual human being, but if you stand together, they will be forced to see you as, The Union

When the company hears we are poking around, they throw a little money to make their “problem” go away. Why is that? If saying the word union scares them into throwing a little money out there and addressing a few issues… Imagine what going through with it will do."

-IAMAW District Organizer, Shawn Vanderjack




What Is a Union and How is the IAM Different?

A union is not an outside entity that comes in and makes unilateral changes in your workplace, a union is YOU and your co-workers joining together to acquire a binding contract that everyone can live with. The IAM has trained negotiators to be your voice at the bargaining table with an elected bargaining committee from the shop floor to make sure your interests and needs are being fought for. We have a staff made up of skilled attorneys to hold the employer accountable under federal and state laws if it's deemed necessary to go that route, and almost 700,000 active and retired members to show solidarity when needed.

There are many reasons for wanting to join a union. Maybe your employer makes promises they don't keep, maybe management is constantly making mistakes and blaming it on employee's. A union holds your employer accountable in the same way that its employees are accountable. Forget your experiences with other organizations, the IAM has a Membership Bill of Rights in our Constitution.

Membership Bill of Rights

"This Constitution expressly preserves the following membership rights, which shall be honored unless a District or Local Lodge successfully obtains dispensation for good cause shown:

1) Subject to legal requirements concerning impasse, no NLRA contract may be implemented without honoring the outcome of a vote of the members it covers.

2) Whenever practicable, contract negotiating committees must contain at least one member from the bargaining unit.

3) Subject to legal requirements, no NLRA contract shall be opened at other than normal expiration of duration without a majority vote of the bargaining unit members.

4) Once the union leadership at any level receives a request to bargain from an NLRA employer, the bargaining unit membership must be notified.

5) The date, time and location of contract vote shall be determined by District or Local leadership, taking into account the convenience and availability of the membership to participate in the voting process."


When you and your co-workers vote to join a union, the company is obligated under federal law to bargain with you and your co-workers.

These mandatory subjects of bargaining include Monetary Subjects which involve wages, vacation, retirement, holiday pay, sick pay, health insurance, shift differential, premium pay, overtime pay and anything else that has a cost. The law also states that the company must bargain in good faith, so no reverse bargaining. 

Working Conditions which include breaks, safety, seniority, job bidding, awarding overtime, forced overtime and timeframe of notice, changes in shift schedule notices, disciplinary steps, promotions and even company provided water and cooling fans in hot work areas. 

Hours of Labor which define shift schedules, overtime hours, on call guidelines, and anything else that may affect an employees work life balance.

Many of our members enjoy overtime pay and joining a union does not jeopardize that; a union simply helps establish a practice that is fair.

Example: When an extra shift is needed, a fair practice may be to have a sign-up sheet. Most senior employee's that want to work will get first choice. If there aren't enough people to run the shift, the least senior qualified employees may be forced. Employees can only be forced to work 2 overtime shifts per month.

(Language like this allows for the OT hungry members to get all they want and the folks that need time for family or personal reasons to have that option.) 


How To Form a Union

The IAMAW requires about 65% of eligible employees to sign an authorization card. This comes as a paper card that says "Yes I want the IAM" or in digital form through a secured encrypted link that you and your co-workers can text to each other. Your employer will never see who signed them or how many signed. All they will know is there was enough for an election to be held. In order to get these signed, the group will need to work together and act like a union in order to get this done.

The IAM is a strategic powerhouse when it comes to leveraging power against companies that violate your right to organize. We have members sitting in Federal committees for Trade, Veterans Affairs, and much more. We have positioned ourselves in key areas so that we can make sure our defense workers and members in every industry have a voice and justice when a DoD contract company believes they are bigger than the United States Law. We have members on environmental boards, so that our wood, pulp and paper workers have a voice if legislation is pushed that could jeopardize our jobs.




The Anti-Union Campaign

The anti-union campaign is always triggered after the company gets word about the employees in talks with a labor union.

1st Comes the whisper campaign. Rumors stating the company might move, union dues will take all your money, fear mongering about strikes, you could make less money etc...

2nd The Company Pretends to Care about issues on the floor that most have raised concerns about for months or even years. All of a sudden, they are wanting to listen.

3rd The Company Gives Raises, all of a sudden you get a $2.00 an hour raise, because they recognize and appreciate all your hard work!

If that didn't work

4th The company hires a Union Avoidance Firm (Union Busters). These people are professional persuaders and charge $3,500 per day to convince you that a union is a bad idea. The playbook has been around since the 80's and unfortunately, it's really effective.


Common Anti-Union Talking Points.

The goal is to chip away support by spreading misinformation and half-truths. They are there to stop you by any means necessary. You will probably hear many of their talking points from co-workers from the whisper campaign. Be prepared for captive audience meetings lots of funny anti union videos, and "Operation Pizza Party"




The Election


Once the Union has enough cards to file with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) the board will mediate terms and a date for the secret ballot election. This election is held at the workplace and all employees must be given time to stop over and vote. The company nor the union will ever know how you voted.



Now We Get to Work!

Now it's time to start contract negotiations! You nominate and elect a plant committee and a Chief Shop Steward, we pass out and collect contract surveys, so we know what issues our new members want addressed, and we schedule dates to sit down and bargain with the company representatives.

When we have gotten as much as we can, we bring the entire agreement to the membership. Everyone will have access and time to read and discuss the contract before voting to accept or reject it.

If the contract is accepted, the IAM will start withdrawing union dues from members that have signed up. You do not pay dues until you have voted to accept a contract.


Introduction to a 130-Year-Old Organization

We believe it is a natural right of working people to enjoy to the full extent of the wealth created by their labor.

We believe that given the state of work in our current world, people must unite to obtain the full reward of their labor.

We believe that working people should exercise their rights cooperatively and economically for the benefit of all people.

Therefore, we, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), pledge ourselves to work for our members to continue to preserve and grow the IAM on the basis of solidarity and justice, and to strive for a higher standard of living for people who work.

For 130 years, the Machinists Union has fought for workers’ rights and benefits.

Pensions, medical insurance, paid vacation, holidays, personal holidays, sick pay, shift differential, etc., are generally not only better in a union shop, many of these don’t even exist without a union contract.

Why the Machinists Union? There is strength in unity – and the Machinists Union provides workers with a powerful, collective voice to communicate to management. We are a full-service Labor Union, whatever your past experience with other unions has been, leave it at the door, there are over 60 major labor unions in the US, and they are not the same. We are an old union but constantly evolving.

Regardless of your specific needs, the union is here to help. Union members:

  • Earn wages, on average, 26 percent higher than non-union workers, and 41 percent higher if you include benefits.

  • Have a rate of 89 percent participation, in a Pension Plan completely separate from their 401k.

  • Are more likely to have employer-provided health insurance benefits at a much lower cost.

  • Have greater access to apprenticeships and training opportunities.

  • Have the right to negotiate rather than "take it or leave it". 



Justice on the Job

A union contract puts rules in place that allow you to do your job without fear of retaliation or unjust treatment. If you feel those rules have been broken, you have the legal right to appeal through a grievance procedure. Everyone is treated with respect, not just management’s favorites.

Voice in the Workplace

A union provides you the opportunity to sit down with management and negotiate over the issues that matter to you. Things like raises, medical benefits, vacation time and other work rules will be determined through your negotiations with your employer. Don't buy into the "you'll lose your individual voice" nonsense... How's that working for you without a union?

Strength & Security

There’s strength in numbers. By joining together in a union, managers will no longer be able to make the rules up as they go. A union job means the guarantee of a contract that establishes wages, hours and terms and conditions of work. They cannot cut your healthcare, they cannot fire you because they don't like you, they cannot break your contract in anyway whatsoever!


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