February 2012

New Officer Seminar Held at National Labor College

In early January, over 50 new local union officers and several district council presidents attended the annual New Officer Seminar held at the National Labor College near Washington, D.C. General President Walter Wise, General Secretary Eric Dean, and General Treasurer Ed McHugh welcomed the new union officers from the United States and Canada.

The goal of the annual seminar is to prepare local officers to effectively lead and manage their local unions. During the six-day seminar, there are a series of speakers representing the International as well as labor, management, and the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT).

Participants attended a Construction Organizing Membership Education Training (COMET) course on Sunday, January, 8. COMET is an important prerequisite to an effective construction-organizing campaign in that it emphasizes membership awareness and enlists broad support for organizing activities.

Topics discussed during the 2012 seminar included:
Roles and Responsibilities of Local Union Officers
The Ironworker Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Managing Finances – Local and International Perspectives
Effective Organizing
Shop Department Overview
IMPACT Initiatives and Tracking System Demonstrations
Safety and Health Department Overview
Davis-Bacon Overview
Local Union District Council (LUDC) Pension Plan and Reciprocity
Managing Pension Funds – Local Union and International Perspectives
Operating Successful Apprenticeship Programs
Political Action Activities
Introduction to the Ironworker Information Technology System
Architectural and Ornamental Department Overview
General Secretary’s Office—Update on Policies and Procedures
Collective Bargaining
Update on the AFL-CIO, Special Agreements and the Ironworker Website
Maintenance and Jurisdiction
Reinforcing Department Overview
Effective Communication Skills
Legal Responsibilities of Local Officers, Labor Law and Job Actions
Department of Labor Filings
Leadership Principles for Local Union Officers

One of the highlights of the seminar is the negotiating exercise. Participants are given background information and then some are assigned to represent labor while others represent management. For several hours, the teams negotiate until an agreement is reached. Following the exercise, the teams report their results and discuss effective negotiating.

The session on pensions included a labor-management panel addressing issues and offering suggestions. Management representatives on the panel included Carl Johnson of Berlin Steel and Jim Ayersman of Genesis Steel Services. Labor representatives included Kendall Martin of Local 5 (Washington, DC) and Kevin McVeigh of Local 201 (Washington, DC).

The key to the success of the seminar is the interaction between the presenters and the participants. Sessions allow time for activities, case studies, role plays, questions and discussions. Participants are able to ask questions relating to their local unions—better preparing them to fulfill their responsibilities as local officers.

Each day the participants meet from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. During evening sessions participants learned about collective bargaining, the Iron Worker Information Technology System (IWITS), and the Labor Action Network.
This seminar has been evaluated for college credit by the National Labor College. Given the focus of the seminar and the amount of time spent in sessions, participants will be able to receive credit hours toward a degree from the National Labor College.

When asked to evaluate this year’s seminar, one of the participants replied, “This training has given me the skills and confidence to make things better for members.” Another participant commented, “As a local president, I will take back what I have learned and lead my membership into a better future.”

Based on feedback from the participants, this year’s seminar was a success. Of course, the true success will be in the strengthening of the local unions represented by these officers. Plans are already underway for the 2013 New Officer Seminar.