The following is from Machinists (IAM) District Council 751:
SEATTLE (Mar. 7, 2014) — Jon Holden is the new president and directing business representative of Machinists Union District Lodge 751. The 41-year-old Holden was elected Thursday, receiving 2,163 votes in a three-way race. The other candidates, John Lopez Jr. and Roy Wilkinson, received 540 and 142 votes, respectively.
Holden assumed the duties of district president immediately and was sworn in by District Secretary-Treasurer Susan Palmer. He succeeds Tom Wroblewski, who retired effective January 31 citing health reasons. Wroblewski served nearly 7 years as leader of the 32,000-member union.
“The work starts now, or maybe it started yesterday,” Holden said. “Our members deserve better than what they’ve had. We’re going to give them better than what they’ve had. That will be our focus going forward.”
He said the union has “a huge task ahead trying to unite our members going forward. We have to engage our members and get them involved in our union like never before.”
Holden vowed to “do a much better job of listening and reflecting the will of the membership.” Specifically, he pledged to conduct:
- Regular membership surveys,
- Town hall-style meetings at local union halls,
- Conferences to inform members of their rights under contracts and labor law; and
- Regular factory-floor visits to ensure he’s in touch with members.
Holden also promised to be more aggressive in enforcing the union’s contracts with Boeing and other employers, and to provide more training and mentoring to union stewards.
“We can and should be pushing the contract enforcement envelope,” he said.
Holden is a Bothell native, who hired into Boeing’s Everett plant as a parts and tooling expeditor 17 years ago. He has served as a business representative for District 751 for the past seven years, where he represented more than 2,500 workers on Boeing’s 747 assembly line in Everett.
He resigned his business rep job and returned to the shop floor at Boeing in order to qualify under District 751 bylaws to run in the election.
Outside Boeing, Holden also played a key role over the past three years helping workers at three Whidbey Island Naval Air Station defense contractors to form union bargaining units, then negotiate and enforce their first contracts. He is one of a handful of union officers in District 751 to have served a full organizing apprenticeship, where he was trained in helping workers join unions and bargain for better pay and working conditions.
His experience earned him the support of a number of key figures within the union, including Wilson Ferguson, the President of Local Lodge 751-A, which is the largest local lodge within the entire IAM, with more than 18,000 members.
“Jon has experience dealing with Boeing, and our International,” Ferguson said. “He’s run unionizing campaigns and negotiated contracts and has a much deeper understanding of our current Boeing contract than any of the other candidates.”
Holden also has been an officer in Local 751-F and an active member of the Machinists Volunteer Program — the community service arm of the union.
Holden acknowledged a lot of members are angry and asked for District 751 members to pull together for a better future.
“No matter how any member voted on the recent Boeing contract ultimatum, nobody can be happy about it,” he said. “The divisive events of the last few months demand that our union come together in unity and collective purpose like never before. My role is to channel that anger to rebuild the District. If we do that, we can make Boeing and our other employers better places to work, and all our communities better places to live.”
At a November 2013 rally in downtown Seattle after Machinists voted to reject Boeing’s initial contract extension offer for the 777X work, Holden spoke on behalf of a group of Machinists attending the rally.
“Today we are all Machinists in this struggle,” Holden said. “We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you to protect the things achieved (in previous contracts). Those who build the 777 today are the key to the 777X’s future success. Our quality, reliability and productivity are second to none. We are proud to stand with you because truly your fight is our fight, and our fight is your fight.”