Machinists leaders claim victory, challengers dispute vote

EVERETT — Leaders of the Machinists union say they have beaten back a challenge from reform candidates in the union’s first contested general election since 1961.

The challengers, a slate called IAM Reform, say they will dispute the results with the U.S. Department of Labor, which is overseeing the election.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) released a statement Friday saying that members re-elected the incumbents by a two-to-one margin.

Votes from IAM lodges were counted this week at the union’s headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Md. One of those lodges, District 751 in Seattle, represents about 33,000 Boeing-employed Machinists in Washington and Oregon, including Everett.

“IAM members made their collective voice heard and elected a diverse leadership team with the experience and capabilities to lead one of the greatest unions in North America,” IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger said in the statement.

The election has to be certified by federal officials. Candidates have until May 23 to protest the results.

IAM Reform candidates say they will dispute the results and allege that incumbents broke several labor election laws, including threatening to fire national and local staff members who didn’t campaign for the incumbents and using union funds for their campaign.

“On behalf of every supporter of IAM Reform, we intend to ask the Department of Labor to investigate these serious violations, through every avenue available to us,” said Jay Cronk, the slate’s candidate for international president.

The election was re-run of last year’s general election. A member of the reform ticket contested the results, claiming that union leaders skewed the nomination process to hamper competition. The Labor Department backed the claim, and IAM leaders agreed to run the election again rather than face legal action.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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