Las Vegas, NV – When 15 Canadian delegates to the 2015 IAM Retirees Conference sat down together, they discovered that beyond monthly coffee clubs within their respective groups, they didn’t communicate much with their local lodges or districts.
“Beyond a small group of us who get together for coffee at the local we never see other retirees until the annual retirees' dinner,” explained IAM Local Lodge 2323 retiree Larry Hutchinson.
But Canadian chief of Staff Stan Pickthall told the delegates they still have a lot to offer and they should become more involved in the union.
“There are a number of ways our retirees can get involved, be it politics or mentoring our young members,” explained Pickthall. “Our current leadership has to get a backbone and stand up to management,” said Hutchinson.
“If that’s the case, than do something about it, put down the coffee cup, attend the monthly local lodge meeting and voice your concerns,” said Pickthall.
Out of this came a recommendation from the group that a retirees report be part of every Local Lodge Meeting.
“Our retirees have to realize that they can become a significant political force,” explained IAM Canadian Research Director Lou Erlichman. “Governments are very afraid of the senior vote because in Canada just as in the U.S., seniors are the largest voting block during an election. Retirees can make a difference.”
The first step in communication is to reach out to other retirees. It was recommended by the Canadian delegates that each local establish a retirees committee with a retirees' coordinator. Each local lodge can provide a list of retirees as a starting point, then make the first contact.
“Our retirees are an untapped resource and they can offer so much to their local lodges if someone would just ask them,” said Pickthall. “But it’s a two-way street, sometimes you have to remind people that you may have retired from the company but not from the union, and let them know you’re available. It may only take a cup of coffee to get the thing rolling.”