The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Say it three times fast.

That’s why we’re usually called the Machinists, the IAM or the IAMAW.

And that’s OK with us. Call our union what you want, as long as you know we fight for working families.

But it’s important to know why the first word in our name—International—defines much of what has made the Machinists one of the most powerful labor organizations in the world for more than a century.

Word spread fast, and across borders, once the Machinists Union formed in 1888. The union that began in an Atlanta railyard had local lodges in Canada and Mexico by 1891.

It was the dawn of the North American labor movement. Corporations had almost total control of employees. Child labor was rampant, working conditions were often deadly and wages stayed low for all but the elite few.

Workers back then put their lives on the line to join together in union. Their struggles won the eight-hour workday, the weekend, workplace safety laws, union rights, health and retirement benefits and many more victories we take for granted today.

We knew it then and it still rings true today. Working people have better lives when we join together. That means power in numbers—and across borders.

The IAM today has more than 40,000 members in Canada. The strength we build by negotiating contracts and organizing new members in Canada benefits not only working people there, but in the United States and across the world.

Take the air transport industry, where the IAM represents more working people than any union in either country. Contracts negotiated for airline employees in Canada raise the bar for airline employees in the U.S., and vice versa. The same goes for workers in aerospace, manufacturing, transportation, and any other industry with an IAM presence.

The close cooperation between IAM members in the U.S. and Canada also means sharing knowledge and resources. Members from across North America exchange ideas and build solidarity at the IAM’s world-class training and education facility, the Winpisinger Center. When a natural disaster strikes, affected members receive help through the IAM Disaster Relief Fund, made possible thanks to the generosity of IAM members in both countries. Resources from the IAM Grand Lodge—ranging from communications to legal assistance to organizing and more—are available to IAM members, officers and staff on both sides of the border.

And while the IAM doesn’t have members outside the U.S. and Canada, our influence spans the globe. The IAM works side by side with both individual unions and union federations in Europe, Australia, South America, Asia and Africa.

In a global economy, with multinational corporations operating across the world, the IAM is a voice that defends and fights for a better life for all working people. From trade agreements to corporate accountability, the IAM is a player not only in North America, but around the globe.

It’s why the “I” makes a bigger difference than you may have thought—and why the Machinists continue to be a force to be reckoned with worldwide.

 

JB