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International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers records

Identifier: L1992-14

Scope and Content of the Collection

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers records document the development of an Atlanta, Georgia, machinists union into an international union. The materials span the years from 1891 to 2002; the bulk of the collection is dated 1935-1989. The papers of the IAMAW include correspondence, minutes, reports, organizational publications, legal and financial records, conference material, speeches, newspaper articles and other material documenting the history of the machinists.


  • Creation: 1891-2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1935 - 1989


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

Chronology of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

The United Machinists and Mechanical Engineers of America was founded in 1888. In 1889, the name changed to the National Association of Machinists. Two years later, it became known as the International Association of Machinists, and in 1965, this was changed to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

IAM History:

19 machinists meet in a locomotive pit at Atlanta, GA, and vote to form a trade union. Machinists earn 20 to 25 cents an hour for a 10-hour workday.
34 locals represented at the first Machinists convention, held in Georgia State Senate Chamber, elect Tom Talbot as Grand Master Machinist. A monthly journal is started.
First Canadian local chartered at Stratford, Ontario. The union is named the International Association of Machinists. Headquarters are set up in Richmond, Virginia, and membership is at 4,000.
IAM Local 145 asks $3 for a 10-hour workday.
First railroad agreement signed with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe.
The IAM joins American Federation of Labor (AFL), and moves its headquarters to Chicago, Illinois.
IAM Local 52, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania conducts the first successful strike for a 9-hour workday.
Time-and-a-half pay for overtime work has become a prevalent practice for Machinist wage earners. Headquarters are moved to Washington, D.C.
Specialists are admitted to membership, and the drive begins for an 8-hour workday.
Apprentices are admitted to membership. There are 769 locals with Railroad machinists earning 36 to 43 cents an hour for a 9-hour workday.
The Metal Trades Department is established within the American Federation of Labor (AFL) with IAM President James O'Connell as its president.
Women are admitted to IAM membership with equal rights.
Railway Employees Department is established within the American Federation of Labor with IAM President A. O. Wharton as President.
Congress passes the Clayton Act limiting use of injunctions in labor disputes and making picketing legal.
The IAM wins the 8-hour workday in many shops and factories, and the union affiliates with the International Metalworkers Federation.
Auto mechanics are admitted to IAM membership.
IAM membership reaches 331,000.
Headquarters moved to the first Machinists Building, at 9th and Mt. Vernon Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. British Amalgamated Engineering Union cedes its North American locals to the IAM.
Machinists earn 72 to 90 cents an hour for a 44-hour workweek.
79,000 railroad machinists pin shopmen's strike against second post-war wage cut. Membership declines to 148,000.
The IAM convention endorses Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., for President.
Congress passes the Railway Labor Act requiring carriers to bargain, and forbidding discrimination against union members.
IAM urges ratification of the Child Labor Amendments to the U.S. Constitution; 2,500,000 children under 16 are working at substandard wages.
250 delegates at the 18th IAM convention urge a 5-day workweek to alleviate unemployment.
Depression layoffs cut IAM membership to 70,000.
Congress passes Norris LaGuardia Act banning the use of court injunctions in labor disputes. Wisconsin adopts first unemployment insurance act. Nearly 30% of union members are jobless.
The IAM backs National Recovery drive and a 40-hour workweek. President Franklin Roosevelt picks IAM Vice President Robert Fechner to head new Civilian Conservation Corps. Membership sinks to 56,000.
The IAM establishes the Research Department.
Congress adopts the National Labor Relations Act establishing the right to organize and requiring employers to bargain in good faith. The IAM opens a drive to organize the aircraft industry.
The first industrial union agreement is signed with Boeing of Seattle, Washington. The IAM convention endorses Franklin D. Roosevelt for President, and membership climbs to 130,000.
The Social Security and Railroad Retirement Acts are now in effect, and IAM negotiates paid vacations in 26% of its agreements.
IAM signs first union agreement in air transport industry with Eastern Airlines.
Machinists' rates average 80 cents an hour, and the IAM pledges full support to National Defense program. IAM membership climbs to 188,000.
The IAM pledges support to win the war (WWII), including making a no-strike pledge.
76,000 IAM members serve in the armed forces, and the total membership is now at 776,000.
The first agreement is signed with Remington Rand. The IAM convention votes to publish a weekly newspaper, plus establishes the Education Department. Widespread layoffs follow the end of World War II.
88% of IAM agreements now provide for paid vacations.
Congress enacts the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act. Machinists Non-Partisan Political League is founded. The IAM Legal Department is established. Machinists average $1.56 an hour.
IAM membership is opened to all regardless of race. The IAM convention endorses Harry S Truman for President.
Railroad machinists win a 40-hour week. Membership is now down to 501,000.
The IAM joins International Transport Workers Federation. Machinists now average $1.82 an hour.
The IAM pledges full support of United Nations action in Korea.
Employees on 85% of airlines are now protected by IAM agreements. 92% of IAM contracts provide for paid holidays.
The IAM has contracts fixing wages and working conditions with 13,500 employers. The IAM Atomic Energy Conference is organized.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) merge, Machinist Al Hayes is elected Vice President and chairman of Ethical Practices Committee. 70% of IAM contracts now have health and welfare provisions, and Machinists average $2.33 an hour.
2,000th active local is chartered, and a new ten-story Machinists Building is dedicated at 1300 Connecticut Ave., Washington, DC.
The IAM convention establishes a strike fund, which was approved by the membership in a referendum vote. IAM membership now tops 903,000.
The United States Congress enacts the anti-union Landrum-Griffin Act.
The IAM convention endorses John F. Kennedy for President after personal visits from both Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The IAM convention establishes a college scholarship program. The IAM establishes a Labor Management Pension Fund.
The IAM Electronics Conference is established. John F. Kennedy issues an Executive Order giving Federal employees a limited right to collective bargaining. Machinists now average $3.10 an hour.
After a personal appearance, the IAM convention endorses Lyndon B. Johnson for President. Delegates vote to change the union's name to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and membership is at 800,000.
IAM members strike five major airlines and finally break through unfair 3.2% limit on wage increases. The first dental care plan is negotiated with Aerojet General.
Railroad Machinists lead shopcrafts against the nation's railroad, and the United States Congress forces a return to work and arbitration.
IAM membership tops 1,000,000. Machinists average S3.44 an hour.
IAM member, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, the first space mechanic, walks on the moon.
Congress votes the first Federal Occupational Safety and Health law. IAM is one of 19 unions in the first successful coordinated bargaining effort against General Electric.
IAM wins largest back pay award in history, more than $54,500,00 for 1,000 members locked out illegally by National Airlines. IAM establishes the Job Safety and Health Department.
IAM membership drops to 902,000 as a result of recession and layoffs in defense industries. IAM President Floyd Smith quits U.S. Pay Board to protest unfair economic policies. IAM convention endorses Senator George McGovern for President.
IAM and United Auto Workers hold first joint Legislative Conference with 1,000 delegates in attendance. Machinists average $4.71 an hour. Membership rises to 927,000.
The Watergate scandal casts its shadow over labor unions along with the rest of the country. When President Nixon resigns, IAM wires President Gerald Ford, "You can count on our support and cooperation in your efforts to bring America back to the principles upon which it was founded."
IAM convention endorses Jimmy Carter for U.S. President. Delegates vote to set up the Civil Rights and Organizing departments and expand the community services program.
William W. Winpisinger is sworn in as the IAM's 11th president.
Citizen/Labor Energy Coalition launches first Stop Big Oil day to protest obscene profits by oil conglomerates while American workers' paychecks continue to shrink.
IAM media project begins. Thousands of IAM members and their families monitor prime-time TV to determine the media's portrayal of working people and unions.
Older Workers and Retired Members Department is established at the Grand Lodge.
"Reaganomics" grips the nation. Individual and corporate bankruptcies reach epidemic proportions. IAM membership begins drop to 820,211.
IAM introduces "Rebuilding America" act to Congress as an alternative to Reaganomics and to rebuild nation's industrial base.
The IAM convention in Seattle, Washington, endorses Walter Mondale for U.S. President. Delegates vote funding for the Placid Harbor Education Center to improve the level of understanding of workers in an ever-changing world.
IAM Executive Council establishes a new Organizing Department, the first ever to be headed by a Vice President. The first IAM Communications Conference is convened in Kansas City, Missouri.
IAM celebrates its 100th anniversary in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 5.
George J. Kourpias sworn in as the IAM's 12th president.
IAM moves to new state-of-the-art headquarters building in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to keep pace with technological changes and serve members' needs well into the 21st Century; IAM convenes 33rd convention at Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
International Woodworkers of America ratify merger agreement. More than 20,000 members join the IAM family. Some 8,000 USAir fleet service workers say "IAM Yes." Machinist newspaper bids fond farewell, reborn as IAM Journal magazine.
The IAM, Auto and Steelworker unions debate plans for unification by year 2000. Unity plan sparks solidarity. Plan would create largest, most diverse union in North America, with more than 2,000,000 active members, 1,400,000 retirees. Sixty-nine day strike brings major victory in new contract at Boeing. Members air their views during first round of Town Hall meetings.
"Fighting Machinists" spearhead political battle for worker rights. Union efforts provide winning edge in Clinton-Gore presidential victory. Meeting in Chicago, the IAM Convention delegates build bridge to the 21st century. Delegates establish IAM Women's Department.
On July 1, Robert Thomas Buffenbarger, 46, takes office as 13th International president in 109-year IAM history, moves quickly to reshape the Union to reflect the growing diversity, interests, concerns of IAM members. Former IAM President Winpisinger dies December 11.
New Blue Ribbon Commission empanelled to provide membership forum to voice opinions. Placid Harbor facility renamed Winpisinger Education and Technology Center to honor this visionary union leader, who brought the facility into being.
General Vice President William Scheri retires; Robert Roach, Jr. takes over the Transportation Department. IAM Shares mutual fund created; allows members to put money to work in a fund that invests in IAM-represented companies. The National Federation of Federal Employees affiliates with the IAM. Unification effort with the Steelworkers and UAW ends because of major philosophical differences; the three unions vow to work together, however.
The IAM endorses Al Gore for President. The AFL-CIO launches its New Alliance campaign, Grand Lodge Convention delegates respond with mandate that all IAM local and district lodges affiliate with their state AFL-CIO labor councils. The IAM meets in San Francisco for the 35th Grand Lodge Convention. The delegates establish Communicator and Educator positions.
IAM Communications revamped with relaunch of website, online streaming of video, and repositioning of the IAM Journal as an advocacy magazine. IAM Executive Council re-elected. William W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Center increases capacity by 50%. IAM dedicates memorial to fallen members. IAM members perish in September 11 attacks. The IAM volunteers to help in war against terrorism and to help America rebuild.
The IAM establishes the Automotive Department and sets in place dozens of organizing blitzes. LL 2710's Gary Blanke wins the IAM's first photography contest. Members speak out at the 2002 Blue Ribbon Commission town hall meetings. Everyday Heroes, an IAM documentary, tells the story of the workers who risked their lives in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, goes on sale. The proceeds go to treat rescue and recovery workers at Ground Zero. The Transportation Department ignites a nationwide Day of Action to urge passengers back onto trains and airplanes. IAM members join with other U.S. union members for the biggest midterm election turnout ever.

IAM International Presidents:

Thomas W. Talbot
J. J. Creamer
John O'Day
James O'Connell
William H. Johnston
A. O. Wharton
Harvey W. Brown
A. J. Hayes
P. L. Siemiller
Floyd E. Smith
William W. Winpisinger
George J. Kourpias
Robert Thomas Buffenbarger
Robert Martinez, Jr.

IAM General Secretary-Treasurers:

W. L. Dawley
George Preston
E. C. Davison
Eric Peterson
Elmer E. Walker
Matthew DeMore
Eugene Glover
Tom Ducy
Don Wharton
Warren Mart
Dora Cervantes


150 Linear Feet (in 304 boxes)

Language of Materials



The United Machinists and Mechanical Engineers of America was founded in 1888. In 1889, the name changed to the National Association of Machinists. Two years later, it became known as the International Association of Machinists and in 1965, this was changed to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Collection documents the growth of a machinists union, founded in Atlanta, into an international union. The materials span the years from 1891 to 1989; the bulk of the collection is dated 1935-1989. The papers of the IAM include correspondence, minutes, reports, organizational publications, legal and financial records, conference material, speeches, articles and clippings and other material documenting the history of the machinists. Select unions and labor federations are unsystematically represented in the IAM collection.

Organization and Arrangement of the Collection

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Records is divided into thirteen series:

  • I. Organizational Minutes,1891-1989
    • A. American Federation of Labor Executive Council Minutes, 1953-1955
    • B. American Federal of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations Executive Council Minutes, 1955-1987
    • C. American Federal of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations Metal Trades Department Executive Council Minutes, 1979-1987
    • D. International Association of Machinists Executive Council Minutes, 1891-1892; 1934-1937; 1944-1989
  • II. President William W. Winpisinger, 1977-1982; 1988.
  • III. Officer Files, 1935-1968.
    • A. Secretary-Treasurer Files, 1935-1968.
    • B. Officer Name files, 1935-1968.
    • C. Officer Reports, 1952-1956
  • IV. Speeches by IAM Officers, 1957-1989.
    • A. Chronological
    • B. Alphabetical
  • V. IAM Departments and Centers
    • A. Education Department, 1960-1974.
    • B. International Affairs, 1975-1988.
    • C. Strategic Resources (Research) Department, 1966-1987.
    • D. Communications Department, 1956-1996.
      • 1. Robert Kalaski files, 1983-1986.
      • 2. Audio/Visual materials, 1956-1996
    • E. IAM Cares, 1985-1987.
  • VI. Financial Records, 1890-1986.
    • A. IAM Auditor Reports, 1934-1984.
    • B. IAM Pension Fund Reports, 1961-1986.
    • C. Ledgers, 1890-1949.
  • VII. Machinists' Non-Partisan Political League, 1947-1989.
    • A. National Planning Committee financial records, 1947-1989.
    • B. Action Bulletin, 1969-1992.
  • VIII. Subject Files, 1922-1985.
  • IX. Local Lodges and Ancillary Unions, 1899-1987.
    • A. Local Lodges, 1899-1956.
    • B. International Transport Workers Federation, 1977-1987.
    • C. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders and Helpers of America, 1946-1961.
  • X. Coordinated Contracts and National Agreements, 1917-1981 (bulk 1933-1966).
    • A. Transportation Industry contracts and agreements, 1930-1981.
    • B. Railroad contracts, 1917-1977.
  • XI. Grand Lodge Rolls, 1943-1974.
  • XII. Conventions, 1960-1984.
  • XIII. IAM Special Projects, 1977-2001.

Acquisition Information

The IAM donated the bulk of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers collection to the Special Collections Department in 1989, 1991 and 1992. More materials were received in 1993, 1999 and 2000.

Related Archival Materials

Georgia State University Library is the official repository for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the collection includes the Grand Lodge records as well as numerous Local and District Lodges. Please see the IAMAW Research Guide for more collections. In addition, GSU Digital Collections includes complete, full-text runs of the Machinist Monthly Journal and the Machinists Newspaper available in GSU Digital Collections as well as numerous photographs and local publications from both the US and Canada.

Separated Materials

During processing various materials were separated to other Southern Labor Archives Collections. Oversized materials are stored offsite; 24-hour notice is required. Please contact Special Collections for access.

For photographs, see the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers photograph collection finding aid. For contracts, see the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers contracts collection finding aid. For artifacts, paintings, and posters see the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers artifact collection finding aid.

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Proceedings Collection, consult Special Collections for access

  1. IAM District Lodge 4, 1911, 1912, 1920, 1923, 1927, 1930, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1961, 1965
  2. IAM Joint Aircraft, Missile, and Related Electronic Conference, 1959

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Constitutions Collection, consult Special Collections for access

  1. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, 1911, 1913, 1916, 1924, 1933, 1937, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977
  2. IAM District Lodge 4, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1953, 1957, 1961

Processing Information

Processed by Robert Dinwiddie at the file level. Original order of the collection was maintained. Newspaper clippings have been copied onto bond paper for protection of content.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
October 2002
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2323-12-08: Added link to digitized sound recording.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)