By Dan Catchpole
District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has set dates, times and locations for members to cast their ballots in an election of the union’s international leadership.
A group of reform candidates picked up enough nominations in February to force a general election for the IAM’s top positions. The election marks the first time in more than 50 years since the union’s held a contested national election. Critics say since the early 1960s, the union’s top leaders have used their control of finances, jobs and information to pass power to handpicked successors.
The U.S. Department of Labor investigated a complaint filed by IAM member Karen Asuncion, who claimed that the IAM international headquarters — simply called “the International” because the union has U.S. and Canadian chapters — used its influence to effectively stifle competition at the ballot box. The Labor Department agreed, and the International agreed to run the election again rather than face potential legal action.
The campaign for the incumbent leadership, including International President Tom Buffenbarger, has let the dirt fly since the self-styled reformers forced a general election by secret ballot. In media interviews and through social media, the reform tickets have been personally attacked by the incumbents’ campaign. A spokesman for the campaign has repeatedly said there’s nothing to the reformers’ platform, which includes more transparency in decision-making and spending.
The reform ticket picked up a lot of support from District Lodge 751, which represents about 33,000 members, most of whom work at Boeing in metro Puget Sound. One member, Jason Redrup, is running for one of the IAM’s general vice president positions on the reform ticket.
The district lodge consists of seven local lodges, which will vote on different days in the general election.
Local A will vote on April 3, Local C on April 10, Local E on April 2, Local F on April 9, Local 86 on April 10, Local 1123 on April 3 and Local 1951 on April 1.
Voting for Locals A, C and F will be at the district’s union halls in Auburn, Everett, Frederickson, Seattle and Renton. Local E will vote at the Seattle hall. Members of Local 86 will vote at 4226 E. Mission Ave., Spokane; Local 1123 at 180 Rock Island Road, East Wenatchee; and Local 1951 at Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council, 1305 Knight St., Richland.
Specific times are available online in the March issue of the Aero Mechanic, the newspaper of District Lodge 751. The issue also includes instructions for requesting an absentee ballot, which must be done at least 10 days before the election.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dcatchpole.