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Texas—a place known for cowboys, BBQ and a beaming sense of pride among its residents. But something many outsiders would not attribute to Texas are proud Unionists. Yet in the northeast corner of the state, on the Texas-Arkansas border, lies the town of Texarkana, Tx—home to hundreds of proud Union members from the nearby Red River Army Depot.
Red River Army Depot hosts a workforce that overhauls a large variety of military vehicles, ranging from Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to mobile cranes. The employees are either federal employees represented by NFFE Local 2189 or contract employees, most of whom are represented by IAM Local Lodge 1243. When the IAM began organizing the contract workers several years ago, it was NFFE members that played a key role in that successful effort. Members of both Locals work side by side on the vehicle assembly lines and the employees proudly refer to the Depot as the Union Depot.
With strong recent organizing successes of NFFE Local 2189 and the growing IAM presence on base, NFFE and IAM leadership decided to host membership barbecue to celebrate recent successes and to highlight the unwavering unity among the Unions on the Depot.
On a beautiful March day, dues-paying Union members and potential new members came together at the IAM Union hall, near the Depot’s main gate. Bordered by green lawns that saw games of horseshoes and football, the Unions hosted a generous Texas-style barbecue with an eclectic country western band, Highway 211, to provide live music for the attendees (sponsored by NFFE-IAM supplemental benefits provider Mike Davenport of Professional Benefit Administrators). Also in attendance was NFFE National Secretary-Treasurer, Randy Erwin, who traveled from Washington, DC to join the Unionists in celebrating recent successes and to encourage potential new members to join the Union family.
But this celebration did not stop after just one day, as the following day included another membership event that included more grilling and to-go lunches for members and their kids who were on Spring break as well as Depot employees who were working overtime and breaking for lunch. Several Union members commented that this type of family-friendly picnic was reminiscent of the Union picnics they remembered fondly from their childhoods.
The celebrations were incredibly popular on the Depot, and NFFE Local 2189 Shane Connell recognized the hard work of all of those involved, “I want to thank all of our officers and stewards who worked together to make this two–day event a success. I also appreciate the use of the IAM hall and grounds for this big event. The band was a big hit with the crowd. I’m looking forward to doing this type of event again in the near future.”
Both of the Locals hope to host similar joint events in the future. Valerie Rodriguez, IAM Grand Lodge Representative, was pleased with the event and the large turnout, “I am proud of the way our two Local Lodges worked together to make this event a success. Our IAM Union hall is strategically located near the Red River Army Depot and has plenty of outdoor space which we used to accommodate the big crowd we had. The NFFE group did a wonderful job preparing and serving the barbecue and helping arrange for Highway 211 to come all the way from Atlanta.”
Proud Unionists from NFFE Local 2189 and IAM Local 1243 at Red River Army Depot