Craig Martin Accepts New Position on the Southern Team

To be honest, IAM Member Craig Martin’s entire life has been leading up to this next step. The word Union has always been, and always will be, a part of his vocabulary. And on August 1, 2018, Martin will join the Southern Territory Staff as a Grand Lodge Special Representative. He has been a dynamic Machinist member since 1997.

“We heard the word Union almost daily as kids. My dad was an active Steward for the Teamsters Union and I learned early on the importance of holding a union card,” said Martin.

It was this foundation that led Martin throughout his personal and work life. 

“Some of my earliest childhood memories were getting ready in case my daddy went on Strike; learning to cut corners on the family budget, making the dollar count, getting bills paid early in case the money ran out,” remembers Martin. “He used to say to us ‘We have to do this for the workers on the shop floor. We have to stick together so we can all get better wages, benefits and working conditions.  It’s what they deserve.’”

After finishing the Industrial Machine Shop program at Sowela Technical Community College in Louisiana, Martin headed over to PPG Industries in Lake Charles, to get a job and a Machinist card. Unfortunately, the universe threw him a curve ball.

Martin laughs as he tells the story. “I interviewed four out of five years for a machinist job at PPG and they had no openings. Finally, after my fourth try, I took a job as a machinist apprentice just to get that card and a foot in the door. Sad to say, I made more money as an apprentice there than as a journeyman at a non-union facility. Just goes to show you what the Union can do.”

Martin got involved right away and worked his way from Shop Steward for IAM Local Lodge 470 all the way to eventually taking on the position of DBR of District 161 in August, 2008. He held almost every union position available during his career including Local Lodge Communicator, President, District 161 Financial Secretary, President of Louisiana State Council of Machinist, Executive Board Member of the Southwest Louisiana Central Trades and Labor Council Executive Board Member of the Louisiana AFL-CIO from 2006 to the present.

But there’s one story that you won’t find in his bio that has definitely defined his career and given him purpose.

“I was house-calling for an organizing drive in New Iberia, LA in 1998. I’ll never forget it was Valentine’s Day when we drove up to this man’s house, if you could call it that. Honestly, it was nothing more than some wooden boards stuck together in the form of a shack. The gentleman we spoke with was so excited that he had enough money left over from his paycheck to buy his wife a single rose and a small tin of Hershey Kisses for the holiday. All I kept thinking was workers deserve to do better than this,” said Martin.

“This is the sort of story that exemplifies who Craig Martin really is and why we need him on staff in the Southern Territory,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin. “As DBR of District 161 for the past decade, he’s made it clear to all, that the labor movement isn’t a job for Craig. He fights for workers because it’s ingrained in his DNA.  That’s what makes him a perfect fit in the Southern Territory.”

For Craig, this is an exciting time for him and his family. He’s ready for a new challenge and he says he feels privileged, to not only be working with such a great team but to be able to reach even more members and help them achieve all the good that comes from having a Union card.

Martin adds with a big, hearty laugh. “I’m also looking forward to locating some new hunting and fishing places, but that’s probably not something we need to tell the boss.”

“He better invite me,” replied Blondin with a grin.


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IAM Midwest Territory ‘Rides for Guides’ Raises $14k for Guide Dogs of America

Drivers taking part in the IAM Midwest Territory’s 10th Annual “Rides for Guides” Motorcycle Charity Ride took off during the early morning hours to ride through the scenic, beautiful rolling hills of Dubuque, Iowa.

The IAM Midwest Territory’s 10th Annual “Rides for Guides” Motorcycle Charity Ride raised nearly $14k to benefit Guide Dogs of America (GDA).

The event, held this year in the scenic, beautiful rolling hills of Dubuque, Iowa, drew more than 50 participants from across the Midwest Territory.

See photos of the IAM Midwest Territory’s 10th Annual “Rides for Guides” Motorcycle Charity Ride in Dubuque, Iowa .

Take the ride yourself! Watch interactive 360° video of the bike run .

“Thank you to all the participants, Midwest Territory Districts, Locals, residents, businesses and sponsors for your continued support of the ‘Rides for Guides’ Motorcycle Charity Ride,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber. “We’re proud to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of this event. The annual bike run continues to be one of the Territory’s largest fundraisers for Guide Dogs of America. None of this would be possible without you.”

This year’s ride comes on the heels of a recent GDA event in which the charity organization honored the IAM Midwest Territory for the membership’s continued support of the organization’s mission of providing the blind and visually-impaired with the gift of sight.

Read Guide Dogs of America Honors IAM Midwest Territory and IAM District 837

GDA provides guide dogs free of charge to blind and visually-impaired men and women across the U.S. and Canada.

Awards were given to the poker hand winners, the individual who brought in the most pledges, and the individual who drove the farthest distance to attend the event. Click here for a list of winners and photos from the bike run .

Other activities included raffle ticket and basket giveaways.

For more information on these and other IAM Midwest Territory events to benefit Guide Dogs of America, visit the Spirit of the Midwest website at .

For more information on Guide Dogs of America, visit .




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Smartphone feature provides immediate access to Veterans Crisis Line

VA has announced that service members and Veterans can connect to the Veterans Crisis Line using these simple words. The Siri function on Apple’s iPhone and the Google Assistant function on Android phones now automatically dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which also serves the Veterans Crisis Line, even if the number (1-800-273-8255) is not saved in the phone’s contact list. Callers will need to Press 1 in order to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

“Suicide prevention is VA’s top clinical priority, and we are working to reach Veterans where they are to help save lives,” said Dr. Keita Franklin. “The new feature on Apple and Android devices enables service members, Veterans, and their families to get quicker access to our network of certified crisis responders.”

Responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans when mental health or related issues — such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, anger, and homelessness — reach a crisis point.

Read the full article here.

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