IAM Conference Asks Attendees to Change the World
If you’re crazy enough to think you can change the world, you probably can. Earlier this year, the IAM issued this challenge to its members and on October 7-11, 2015, over 400 women, young workers, and human rights advocates responded by showing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico to prove that the Labor Movement will continue to change the world. Nearly doubling in size with each installation, this third Women’s, Young Worker, and Human Rights conference showcased prominent speakers, in-depth panel discussions, and dozens of workshops to empower our diverse membership and prove that our differences truly are our strengths.
The conference kicked off with fierce calls for action from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger, and prominent leaders from across the labor movement who didn’t shy away from the tough issues. Participants learned about how women’s, young worker, and human rights issues must be central to our efforts to organize for a better world. Labor community allies and activists shared tools in interactive panel discussions and workshops on how unionists can represent the oppressed in our workplaces and communities.
NFFE National Secretary-Treasurer Randy Erwin served as a speaker and facilitator in a Young Machinists workshop, highlighting the importance of mentorship in the labor movement. Amy Burns, National Business Representative, represented NFFE and the public sector on a panel discussion called, “High Heels to Hardhats, Does it Really Matter?” which brought together four women from a variety of sectors to discuss best practices for organizing women in the labor movement. Members Liz McDargh, Lisa Foust, and Micheal Goolsby represented NFFE’s Diversity, Minority, and Inclusion Committee as conference participants.
The work of embracing diversity and empowering the next generation of union activists did not stop when the conference convened. Participants traveled back to their families, workplaces, and communities armed with new skills to change the world. They’re getting started by establishing women’s, young worker, and human rights committees; they are joining our allies in the labor movement by becoming members of affiliate groups like the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Coalition of Labor Union Women; they are strengthening their skills by taking classes on young worker organizing and human rights at the Winpisinger Center; and they are sharing their stories. Join them! Support the women, young workers, and human rights advocates in your Local by fighting for fairness!
After all, as IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux and Chair of the 2015 Women’s, Young Worker, and Human Rights Conference said, “The IAM is proud of our diversity – it is part of what makes us such a strong union.”