The largest union in the commercial aviation industry is the Machinists Union. The largest single division of the IAM is District 141, home to more than 42 thousand active and retired members.
Machinists at District 141, who work at major airlines like American and United, as well as smaller airlines like Spirit, function as an industry-wide negotiating body. Machinists contracts negotiated at District 141 have made $30 an hour a new industry standard pay rate for all airlines. They’ve also created agreements that make the outsourcing of work nearly impossible for their airlines to do legally. These landmark contracts are forcing all airlines to keep up with Machinists to attract and retain good employees.
It’s no surprise then, that the Machinists at District 141 are creating a fertile breeding ground for new activism. Young and energetic, these newly engaged members are forming the vanguard of an emerging new kind of unionist.
The potency of this surge of union activists was on clear display at the Machinists biannual District 141 Convention, held this month in Orlando, Florida. This convention saw a record-breaking level of participation from airline workers, setting records in the overall number of delegates representing local union lodges, and also a record number of delegates attending their first union convention.
To find out what might be driving the increase in new union activism, we asked first-time delegates why they got involved, and what they hoped to achieve over the next year.
Sam, Local 1487 Chicago
“I was inspired to get involved by our Local President, Tony Licciardi. He demands a high level of member involvement, and wants us to be included any time that decisions that will impact our work area are being made.”
Rosario, Local 1487 Chicago
“We need to protect our jobs, that’s the number one priority for me. The more of us that are fighting to protect our jobs, the better. I’m here to be a better defender of our job security and rights.”
First Time Delegates from LL1487, left to right: Danette, Laraine, someone from another LL, Rosario and Sam