Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Today, we are confronted with the biggest challenges we have faced in generations. Millions of working families throughout the United States, Canada and the world have been impacted by the ever-present threat to our health by a virus which continues to sicken and kill.
And while there have been many IAM employers who have acted responsibly during this crisis, far too many companies have sought to exploit this situation for their own advantage, laying off and furloughing tens of thousands IAM members—numbers not seen since the Great Depression. We continue to fight for economic relief programs for all of our members, including our members in the airline and transit sectors who deserve an extension to the now expired payroll support program.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, our members have stepped up in an extraordinary way. IAM members are building the much needed ventilators that make it possible for people to breath. We are making the masks and other protective protected equipment that front line health care workers and first responders desperately need. We are transporting the medical supplies and equipment that save lives.
Sadly, far too many of our Brothers and Sisters have been directly impacted by the virus. Too many have become infected with the virus or lost their lives, while others have had family members succumb to this deadly disease. Myself and your IAM Executive Council send our most heartfelt condolences to every IAM family that has been affected by the coronavirus.
From Day 1, our top priority has been the health, safety and well-being of our members—both on and off the job. We have mobilized every level of our union to demand that all IAM employers provide appropriate PPE to every worker, continuously sanitize workplaces and follow best practices and all regulatory guidelines. We have also been relentless in lobbying Congress in the U.S. and Parliament in Canada to provide relief for our members and tens of millions of people who are now unemployed—through absolutely no fault of their own. We have and continue to do everything possible to make certain that working people get the relief they need—not hedge funds, CEOs or corporate executives. We have applied this same philosophy at the Grand Lodge, moving resources from Headquarters to the field to assist, support and strengthen our local and district lodges.
People throughout our great nations are suffering from the impact of COVID-19, from the high unemployment rate, and from the unprecedented natural disasters such as fires and hurricanes that we have experienced this year. If you are suffering, please remember, Machinists can get help through our new addiction services, our stronger disaster relief fund and our veteran’s programs, among others.
As your Lodge has previously been notified, because of the pandemic, the 40th Grand Lodge Convention had to be postponed until next year. Although we are all disappointed to not be gathering this year, we are very much looking forward to the 40th Grand Lodge Convention in September 2021 in San Diego.
From now until then, there is much work to be done. We have just had a national election. The election showed that there is a bitter divide in our country. Now is the time for healing and unity. We, as IAM members, can lead the way as we reassert our trade union principles that we are stronger together than we are apart. Working people and their families need us now more than ever.
Be confident—no matter how many crises we face, we will not simply survive; we will grow stronger. We are the Fighting Machinists.
Stay safe, stay strong, stay united – together, in solidarity, we shall overcome.
Robert Martinez Jr.