The spirit of the railroads and the justice needed on the tracks and in the shops moved nineteen activists to create the National Association of Machinists in a railroad pit in Atlanta, Georgia in 1888. Two short years later, IAM Local 103 was chartered in Stratford, Ontario and the name changed to the International Association of Machinists (IAM).
Local Lodge 235 was chartered in 1891 in Toronto, Ontario. It represented railroad machinists and was the direct result of organising by the “Boomers”, organisers who travelled by train across the US, Canada, Mexico and across many other borders spreading the Union Word. The Word had resonance, as many railroad workers felt the lash of the railroad bosses. They knew they needed a union, so they joined in increasing numbers.
Along the way, the IAM played a part in the various social changes needed in Canada and the US. The drive for an 8-hour began in 1908, which we won in many shops in 1915; women were allowed membership in our union with equal rights long before it was acceptable in other major unions; in 1927, the IAM argued against child labour and by 1946, 88% of all IAM contracts provided for paid vacations.
In 1969, IAM member, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, was the first space mechanic to walk on the moon.
Although we began in the railroads, we continued organizing outside of that sector. More than a hundred and thirty years later, the IAM represents workers in almost every sector in Canada. We represent more than 40,000 Canadian workers in air transport and a wide range of manufacturing including aircraft, auto parts, autobuses, aerospace, electronics, light and heavy machinery, tools and appliances. We are the largest airport security screeners union in Canada. The IAM also represents a growing number of workers in the health care and hospitality sectors as well as office, technical and other white-collar workers.
IAM District 78, which has locals affiliated to the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, represents almost all locals in Ontario. We coordinate many more activities than bargaining our contracts. We are political and are involved: we participate in our national political action programmes, as well as provide engage in conversations with all our members.
We recognise that action comes from education, and that’s why our training programs are so robust and wide-ranging.
We’re a union that believes that there’s more to life than just work and we’re committed to helping you get the most out of every day. Based on the values of respect, dignity, and fairness, we are fighting every day to build better workplaces, better communities, and better lives.