Leaders from 104 local and district lodges attend
WITH UNIONS INCREASINGLY under attack, nearly 200 Boilermakers demonstrated their solidarity at this year’s Industrial Sector Operations Conference, eager to find the right tools to grow Boilermaker membership and strengthen their locals. The conference, held in Las Vegas July 24-27, drew one of the highest turnout in its history. Delegates gained informative and inspirational advice about organizing, recruiting and the need to increase union density worldwide.
During the four-day conference, delegates met in plenary sessions, five industry-specific caucuses and 29 breakout sessions. Speakers addressed delegates on local lodge finances, shipbuilding, railroad retirement, labor arbitration, organizing and recruitment, labor law, audits, being an effective steward, social media and many other topics important for leaders in the Industrial Sector.
Also presenting at the plenary sessions were Bank of Labor Market President Mike Snowden, ED-CSO Mark Vandiver, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Director of Membership Brian Dowler, President and CEO of Ullico Ed Smith and Director of Government Affairs Cecile Conroy.
IP Jones praises members’ impact on society, urges activism
“ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, Boilermakers go to work each day to make the lives of our fellow citizens safer, easier, better,” said International President Newton B. Jones in his opening remarks. “And whether you represent railroads or shipbuilding, stove-making or cement, or any of the other industries in which our members work — and whatever your role is within the organization — we’re all here in Las Vegas for the same reason: We want to see our union grow and prosper long into the future, so that our work opportunities and our livelihoods can grow and prosper long into the future.”
Jones pointed to workers at Local M7 in Lowell, Michigan, employed by Attwood Marine [see local news story on page xx], as an example of how Boilermakers contribute to society.
“Brothers and Sisters, Local M7 is representative of so many of our industrial sector lodges,” he said. “M7 members contribute not only to their employer’s profitability but to the community where they work. They seek — and they deserve — improvements in their standard of living for themselves and their families. And, really, that’s what unions are about.”
Jones also spoke about anti-union developments, like the Supreme Court’s Janus decision and the push for right to work in Missouri and elsewhere.
“For too long, political, judicial and economic forces have pushed us down, reducing our work opportunities, impacting our pensions, making it more difficult to organize,” he said.
He called on all ISO members to become evangelists for growing the union. “Spread the word. Show your pride and explain that the more dues-paying members a local has, the stronger its bargaining position is for better wages and benefits.”
Clark challenges delegates to recruit
MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, BUSINESS coach, award-winning author and talk show host Dan Clark, invigorated delegates with his high-energy challenge: Accept personal responsibility to recruit and organize for the Brotherhood.
“We need to more effectively recruit,” he said. “Show the non-union how cool it is to be a part of a trade organization. Do that by looking at recruiting as ‘attracting.’”
Boilermakers have the responsibility to attract people, especially in right-to-work states, said Clark, cautioning delegates to “preach only what you practice. We’ve got to remember that people are watching.”
Clark related his experience consulting for two football teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. He found distinct differences between the teams — from the cleanliness of their offices to the focus of the players and their missions. The losing Buccaneers’ focus was on “playing football” as a job. The winning Cowboys focus was on “winning the Super Bowl” as a calling.
“The difference between the teams is that they attracted what they thought they deserved,” Clark noted.
While winning the Super Bowl isn’t the same as union recruiting, the lesson is the same — a union will attract what it thinks it deserves. Clark urged delegates to dig deeper to understand why they’re Boilermakers. Remembering that, he said, will help them “attract” or recruit new members.
O’Rourke outlines rebirth of shipbuilding in Canada
JOE O’ROURKE, VICE president and general manager of Victoria Shipyards in Victoria, British Columbia, summed up the revitalized shipbuilding industry in Canada.
The shipyards serve the long-term needs of Canada’s Coast Guard and Navy and are a partner under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.
“Shipbuilding in Canada disappeared for over two and a half decades,” O’Rourke said. He noted that now Vancouver is building on a history of quality ship repair and refit service with federal and provincial support of blue collar jobs.
That support includes more robust apprentice programs with integrated training in shipyards, increasing the “honor and integrity of those working in the trades.”
O’Rourke extolled the union and its commitment to excellence. “I’ve always found working with the Boilermakers is the way to get the deal done. I see more honesty on a deck plate than I do in the board room.”
IndustriALL’s Hartwich calls for increased global union density
MATTHIAS HARTWICH, DIRECTOR at IndustriALL Global Union, painted a bleak picture of global working conditions, noting that 40 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day.
“Some precarious workers (contracted employees with no rights or benefits) are selling their safety boots to buy food for their children,” Hartwich said. “So now multinational corporations don’t give them safety boots,” which compounds the abysmal safety conditions many face during long workdays.
Hartwich also said that in the global economy, only 7 percent of workers are organized in free trade unions. Most have no health insurance, so they have no hope of going to a doctor. In addition, wealth distribution is worse than it was in 1913, on the eve of the first world war.
“There is enough space for global wealth. There is enough wealth. It’s just not fairly distributed,” he said.
Brown calls for recruiting to build union power
TYLER BROWN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of ISO and Chief of Staff, delivered a fiery closing to the conference, encouraging delegates to wear their Boilermaker union pride as they go back to their locals and to their jobs.
“We’ve accomplished a lot throughout our history, and we continue to be leaders as a progressive and forward-thinking union,” Brown said. “Pride in our union draws us together. And we need that — we need our solidarity — now, especially.”
Brown blasted the “insanity” that is negatively impacting unions across North America during the current political climate in the United States. He called for every delegate to become a recruiter, to make the changes that unions need at this time in history, and to organize, recruit and grow like never before.
“We need to build our union stronger and stronger to build our collective power. We need everyone to go on the offensive when it comes to our union, our work and the issues that impact us.”
Brown emphasized that members are the union. “You are our union’s most important resource,” he said. “You are what makes me proud to be your union brother. You all are what makes me proud to be a Boilermaker.”