NFFE Local 2189 Provides Critical Support to IAM Organizing Win
Last October, the IAM won a representational election for over 1,000 mechanics working for service contractor URS at Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX. The campaign was a major success for the IAM Southern Territory, and it was the collaborative partnership with NFFE Local 2189, the established NFFE Local at Red River Army Depot, that helped make the well-executed organizing campaign a success.
It was early 2013 when the phone rang in the NFFE Local 2189 Union office, and on the other end was a URS employee explaining their treacherous working conditions. The employee knew that Local 2189 had hundreds of dues-paying members, and that the Local was incredibly active both on base and in the community. He wanted the same for his co-workers, so he asked Local 2189 Vice President Chris Casteel and Local Stewards to help URS employees form a Union.
“We knew these URS employees, we worked side-by-side every day, yet they were treated totally different from the federal employees,” said Chris Casteel, NFFE Local 2189 Vice President. “These folks wanted equality and justice on the job, and they knew establishing a Union was how to do that. They saw the success of [Local] 2189, and they knew that is what they wanted.”
Local 2189 officers moved quickly, contacting the IAM and informing them of the URS employees seeking the strength of a Union contract. The IAM sent representatives to Red River, and the URS organizing team was formed.
With Local 2189 Vice President Chris Casteel leading the NFFE portion of the team, the organizing team developed an organizing strategy that included one-on-one meetings, base-wide barbeques, meet-and-greet events with IAM representatives and a family day celebration for URS employees. With the unrivaled strength of the IAM and the deep knowledge of the Red River workforce Local 2189 members had, the organizing effort fired on all cylinders and produced results quickly.
Just over a year after building an organizing campaign that relied heavily on the hard work of Local 2189 members and officers, the representational election was held in October 2014. The results were overwhelming, with URS employees voting to join the IAM by a 22-point margin, 61-39 percent.