March 2013

New Officer Seminar Held at Maritime Institute Conference Center

In early January, approximately 40 new local union officers and several district council presidents attended the annual New Officer Seminar held at the Maritime Institute Conference Center near Baltimore, Md. 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 this 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 6. 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 2013 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 Iron Worker Information Technology System (IWITS)
-    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. The management representative on the panel was Jim Ayersman of Genesis Steel Services. Labor representatives included Kendall Martin of Local 5 (Washington, D.C.) and Kevin McVeigh of Local 201 (Washington, D.C.).

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 8:00 p.m. During evening sessions participants learned about collective bargaining, the Iron Worker Information Technology System (IWITS) and the Labor Action Network.

When asked to evaluate this year's seminar, one of the participants replied, "I learned that this job takes teamwork and that the bottom line is the ironworker in the field." John Wade, Local 11 (Newark, N.J.) organizer remarked, "This seminar is necessary for developing the tools needed to strengthen the union brand."

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 2014 New Officer Seminar.