Skip to main content

Pressley recalls challenges rewards

[+]Enlarge

IVP Jim Pressley

SOMETIMES UNION LEADERSHIP is a trial-by-fire experience. That was the case for Jim Pressley in 1987, when he filled the unexpected vacancy of president of Local 900 just two weeks before contract negotiations were set to start. “We worked without a contract for 16 months,” he recalled. “We implemented an in-plant strategy [staying on the job while conducting solidarity measures] and ultimately prevailed.”

That experience would become important when Pressley faced other challenges after joining the International staff as an International Rep and Assistant Director, and later Director, of Collective Bargaining Services.

Between 2002 and 2006, Pressley worked with local lodge leaders and the Brotherhood leadership to fend off union-busting efforts by Joy Mining Manufacturing, Celanese Corporation, and Wabash Alloys.

“What higher calling can there be than to serve your fellow man? This is an honorable profession.”
— IVP Jim Pressley

Local 483 (Alton, Ill.) recovered more than $1 million in back wages after Joy Mining Manufacturing prevented members at the firm’s Mount Vernon, Ill., plant from returning to work following a legal strike. The strike had been triggered by the company’s failure to bargain in good faith. Unfair labor charges filed by the union were upheld.

Local 454 (Meredosia, Ill.) and Local 1284 (Wabash, Ind.) faced their own crises with Celanese Corporation and Wabash Alloys, respectively. Both employers locked out their union employees. They also engaged in such tactics as hiring replacement workers and union-busting security firms, and videotaping union members and their families. The resolve of the lodge members, International leadership, legal and financial support, and political and public pressure enabled both local lodges to maintain union representation at the plants.

International President Newton B. Jones wrote at the time, “Much of the credit for [these settlements] has to go to Jim Pressley. He spearheaded the union’s effort; he was the one on the ground, day after day, leading the charge and dealing with the pressures. He did a remarkable job.”

Pressley said he is proud of the way the union pulled together during all three of those crises.

He added that one of the biggest highlights of his career was his involvement with Industrial Sector Operations. “President Jones allowed me to play a role in the fostering and operation of the ISO. We’ve had three very successful conferences now. I think the payoff will be that Industrial Sector members will have a more prominent voice in the Brotherhood.”

Pressley said that his long involvement in organized labor has taught him that “without a union, life as we know it would be much different. There’s got to be someone standing between the workers and management, especially organized management that collaborates against workers.”

He added, “What higher calling can there be than to serve your fellow man? That’s a tremendous responsibility. This is an honorable profession.”

Tags  Headline News
Locals  L-900
Published on the Web: February 12, 2013

Latest News

  • The Union Pacific restored the Big Boy 4014 with its nine-person “steam team.”

    Boilermakers restore Union Pacific’s steam behemoth

    Read More

  • L-40 BM-ST Mike Autry presents Herbert Reedy with his 75-year pin.

    75-year pin presented to L-40’s Reedy

    Read More

  • Mark Felger, L-104, fires up a rosebud torch to make the "Cadillac of winches" at Markey Machinery in Seattle.

    Local 104 makes its mark on top-of-the-line marine deck equipment

    Read More

  • Paige Gray and Stephanie Zundel (tandem cycle on right) work their way up the pack at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Milton, Ontario. Gray is a control room operator at Black Hills Power in Pueblo, Colorado, and L-101 sponsors the racing duo. (Photo credit: Simon Wilkinson)

    World-championship para-cycling team gets kick-start from L-101

    Read More

  • Thousands of participants gathered in Madrid, Spain, from around the world to discuss climate change solutions during the United Nations’ COP25. (The event was moved from Santiago, Chile, to Madrid due to unrest in Chile.)

    Boilermakers advocate for CCUS at COP25

    Read More