Speaking to TSSA annual conference on behalf of President Newton B. Jones, IBB Director of Communications Amy Wiser delivered a speech full of hope and solidarity
Good morning. As you can see, I am not Newton Jones. I’m Amy Wiser, Director of Communications for the Boilermakers union.
On behalf of our International President, Newton B. Jones, I bring you well wishes from union Boilermakers across the United States and Canada.
Due to extenuating circumstances that prevented him from attending in person, President Jones sends his regrets and has asked me to deliver his remarks to you today.
And It is an honor indeed to greet you on this very important occasion. I want to thank General Secretary Manuel Cortes and President Mick Carney for inviting our delegation to attend your annual conference and your 125th anniversary celebration.
And let me begin by offering my congratulations to you for reaching this incredible milestone. You should all be proud of the legacy TSSA has created over 125 years for working people. TSSA has, no doubt, left an indelible impact on the greater labor movement and on many individual lives. For more than a century, your union has fought for proper wages, safety, fairness and dignity on the job, as well as the overall well-being of workers. Tomorrow’s workers will benefit from the work TSSA has done in the past and continues to do today. The Boilermakers union was very fortunate to be introduced to TSSA several years ago.
While we may be physically an ocean apart and have some unique cultural differences, it has been heartening to learn about the many things our unions have in common.
For example, the Boilermakers union is slightly older than TSSA, we were formed in 1880, but we were both born out of the rail industry. As freight and passenger rail has changed, we’ve both endured challenges and risen to greet new opportunities, diversifying our work and the workers we represent.
Another example: You spell the word “organizing” with an “s” while we spell it with a “Z”—or “zed” as you inexplicably have named the letter. But however it’s spelled—ORGANIZING—organizing people to unionize workplaces and to rally around issues that help working people and the greater labor movement is at the heart of both our unions.
And while our safety concerns vary, BOTH of our unions want our members—and all workers—to come home safe and well after a day’s work.
While our governmental systems, laws and processes are different, BOTH of our unions understand the importance of bringing voices together to advocate for change and amplify our power.
BOTH of our unions want the best training, education and health and welfare programs.
BOTH of our unions want fair treatment, appropriate wages and dignity on the job for ALL workers.
BOTH of our unions want the best futures for our members.
And BOTH of our unions want to see TSSA and the Boilermakers grow stronger.
In early 2020, just before the pandemic, TSSA and the Boilermakers union met to learn more about one another’s challenges, opportunities and resources. As a result of that meeting, General Secretary Cortes and International President Jones signed a mutually beneficial strategic partnership agreement in your offices in London.
The goal of this partnership agreement was—and remains—to enhance our unions’ common strengths by sharing respective organizing and education programs, as well as exchanging resources and creating a greater voice at an international level.
We recognized an opportunity to learn from one another and cooperate right away to share our education programs, best practices on campaigning and organizing and communications techniques, for example.
Of course, the pandemic put a damper on any substantive plans. We were, however, pleased to participate in several of your Going Beyond educational webinars; and our communications teams have been working to promote our unions’ initiatives whenever that’s appropriate.
It has been a personal pleasure to work with Sian Jones in communications and with Nadine Rae, and I feel fortunate to have been included with my colleague Erica Stewart in online conversations with your Women’s Group this past autumn.
Erica leads our new Boilermaker Women at Work women’s initiatives, which is just beginning; and we have already learned a lot from the TSSA women. I can speak firsthand, as well as on Erica's behalf, about the value of being able to pick the brains of women who have already established a solid program. We look forward to learning more as we advocate for Boilermaker women, actively recruit more women into our trades and put more Boilermaker women on the path to leadership.
The past two years have certainly proved that neither an ocean nor a pandemic can stop the sharing of good ideas and good work. I think we are all tired of Zoom, but the technology has already allowed us to reach across the Atlantic to help one another. But yesterday, it was a privilege for me to speak with your Disabilities Working Group in person, and I'd like to thank Pauline and the group for including me.
I was energized and inspired with action for IBB to take. This was a fantastic example of how the Boilermakers can learn from from TSSA and improve—and I look forward to sharing with my IBB colleagues about the things you are doing and that we could be replicating in the U.S. and Canada to advocate for working people and raise awareness.
There is MUCH we can learn from one another. Our two organizations are building a wonderful cooperation together, connected in solidarity and mutual respect.
No doubt TSSA has encountered many difficult challenges these last few years, as have many unions, including the Boilermakers. Clearly you have strong leadership that has navigated TSSA safely through unprecedented times.
Our delegation, and our leadership at home, looks forward to spending time with your leadership and learning even more about your current initiatives, your challenges and the potential ways we can continue our cooperation and sharing of ideas. We look forward to building upon the partnership and the alliance we have begun.
And let me just say again: While we come from very different geographies and cultures, we are united in our mission to help our members work safely, earn fair wages and be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We are united in our mission to bring people, voices and power together for a stronger labor movement.
We are united in our mission to advocate for all working people, everywhere.
We honor the work of your leadership and of TSSA as an organization, and we wish you the best for a prosperous future.
Thank you so much for your kindness, friendship and solidarity.
Thank you, General Secretary Cortes and President Carney.
And, on behalf of President Jones and the nearly 50,000 Boilermakers throughout the United States and Canada, we wish you all good health; a wonderful, productive annual conference; and an enjoyable, and very well-deserved anniversary celebration.
And now I’d like to ask our International Vice President, Larry McManamon to come forward for a presentation, and I ask Manuel and Mick to also please come forward.
On behalf of International President Newton Jones, International Secretary-Treasurer William Creeden, our International Executive Council and the entire membership of the Boilermakers union, we present you with this acknowledgement of our friendship and partnership.
This piece was made by hand by Dave Stewart, a Boilermaker and artist in our history preservation department.
And, like our relationship with TSSA, this I s uniquely made, one of a kind.
We look forward to our continued partnership and our work together.