Machinists, Woodworkers district lodges consolidate

Machinists District Lodge 24 and Woodworkers District Lodge W1 have merged to create the International Association of Machinists District W24. The merger was effective Jan. 1.

The International Association of Woodworkers has been a division of the Machinists since affiliating at the national level in May 1994. And they’re not strangers locally, having worked together on the Oregon Machinist Council and the annual Legislative Conference. Merger talks have been ongoing for several years, but they intensified early in 2010 as membership for both organizations continued to slide.

The new district will combine roughly 60 union contracts under former District LodgeW1 and about the same number under former District Lodge 24, for a total of 120 contracts covering more than 6,000 workers.

Portland-based District Lodge 24 was comprised of Local Lodges 63, 1005, 1432, and 2911.  Those locals represent 2,800 workers at companies such as Boeing, Daimler Trucks North America (formerly Freightliner), Johnson Controls, ConMet, Silver Eagle Manufacturing, Crown, Cork and Seal, Cascade General, Gerber Knives, and at various machine and diesel mechanic shops in Oregon and Southwest Washington. [Local 2911 was disbanded in October, with members who work at Gerber Knives absorbed by Local 63.]

District W1 is headquartered in Gladstone and represents approximately 3,400 workers, with three locals in Oregon — W12 in Klamath Falls, W246 in Springfield, and W261 in Central Point; five locals in Washington — W2 in Aberdeen, W38 in Shelton, W130 in Centralia, W157 in Tacoma, and W536 in Longview; and Local Lodge W98 in Arcata, California, and Local Lodge W364 in Lewiston, Idaho. Members work at several Weyerhaeuser plants, including in Springfield, Oregon and Longview, Centralia, Tacoma, and Cosmopolis, Washington; at Collins Products in Klamath Falls; Timber Products in Medford; Georgia-Pacific in Coos Bay; and Sierra Pine in Springfield. W1 also represents loggers and log truck drivers, public workers in Reedsport, Winston, and Elkton, Oregon; and Shelton and Mason County, Washington; health care workers, and auto mechanics.

Under the merger agreement, W1 Directing Business Representative (DBR) Bob Wilson was named president/DBR of the new Machinists District W24. Former District Lodge 24 DBR Bob Petroff is now one of three assistant directing business representatives. The other two are Chip Elliott and Steve Wilson of W1. Elliott was an assistant DBR and Wilson was secretary-treasurer. Dan Sass, secretary-treasurer of District Lodge 24, will retain that position with Machinists District W24.

The governing body for the new district is a delegate council, which will meet at least twice a year. An executive board, consisting of the five officers mentioned above, also includes four trustees: John Hall of Local 63, Ray Simonis of Local 1005, Mike Heuer of W536, and Gary Lokan of W246.

Machinists District W24 is chartered to cover Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, and Hawaii.

The Machinists Hall off Powell Boulevard in Southeast Portland is being appraised and will be put up for sale. The union staff — and Machinists Credit Union — will relocate to the Woodworkers’ headquarters in Gladstone. That building will undergo modifications to accommodate the District 24 staff, so the move isn’t anticipated until April.

DBR Wilson said Machinists District W24 will focus on organizing. Over the past 18 months W1 won six of eight organizing campaigns.

“We are organizing because it helps us at negotiations,” he said. “Everyone fails together if we aren’t organized. If we are, we rise together.”

Assistant DBR Petroff said business agents will maintain their current assignments servicing members, but will spend up to half their time organizing.

“A combination of the staffs and the local leaderships is a great way to maximize the effectiveness of our organizing efforts,” Petroff said.

“In the long run, we will be spending less on administration,” DBR Wilson noted. “But we won’t sacrifice representation.”

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