The IAM’s Transportation Department has been a voice for working men and women for decades. It ensures that employers respect the legal rights of workers on the job and places great importance on negotiating and enforcing strong collective bargaining agreements.
Another primary mission is organizing new workers so they can also gain a voice on the job and raise the standards for all workers in the industry. It is our density—the sheer number of workers in the union—coupled with our solidarity, that makes the IAM the strongest force representing airline workers.
The Transportation Department has grown by more than 5,000 workers in the last 18 months through organizing victories at United Ground Express (UGE), McGee Air Services, OSM Aviation, SM Cargo and multiple victories at Swissport International. These victories are coupled with insourcing jobs at United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines through collective bargaining, dramatically increasing our membership at those carriers.
While very significant, those successes are in the past. The Transportation Department has several other major organizing campaigns underway to continue its momentum. Carriers targeted by organizing committees at District Lodges 141 and 142 include Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Republic Airways, SkyWest, Delta Global Services, Mesa Airlines, United Office & Clerical, United Engineers, Spirit Mechanics, Horizon Fleet and Passenger Service and Air Methods. In total, the IAM Transportation Department has active campaigns to organize approximately 50,000 workers.
At Delta, we are simultaneously running organizing campaigns for Flight Attendants, Fleet Service, Customer Service and Mechanic & Related personnel. These campaigns are on an upswing, as month-over-month percentages of new card signers continue to rise.
Although much progress is being made, Delta management has continuously tried to dissuade their workers from organizing through intimidation, anti-union propaganda and restrictive policies. In the face of Delta’s anti-union campaign, internal activists have still made great progress.
The JetBlue ramp service campaign faces similar anti-union propaganda and intimidation tactics from their company, but much like their counterparts at Delta, their activists have thwarted these attempts and significant progress continues.
The most important facet in these organizing campaigns is the strong emphasis placed on interpersonal relationships. The connections activists forge with their peers lay the groundwork for trust, education and the expansion of the activist base. Constant visibility plays an integral role in both campaigns. These employee-activist leaders consistently distribute information, educate workers and collect cards. They are the face of the campaign and will be the key to further IAM wins.
The Transportation Department has placed great importance on organizing. Providing new workers with the protections and benefits an IAM contract offers is the only way to expand the middle-class in the United States and ensure all workers benefit.