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International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers artifact collection

Identifier: L1992-14A

Scope and Content of the Collection

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Artifact collection comprises a wide variety of artifacts, including charters, photographs, paintings, posters, banners, certificates, and tool kits, 1888-circa 2000. The items were created or received by IAMAW's officers, headquarters, and local lodges. The collection includes the contents of the "Time Capsule of 1955" placed in the cornerstone of the union's then headquarters.


  • Creation: 1886-circa 2000


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.

Collection is stored offsite. Allow at least 2 working days for retrieval.

History of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Founded in 1888 as the United Machinists and Mechanical Engineers of America, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is one of the largest trade unions in North America. The organization has been known as the National Association of Machinists (1889-1891) and the International Association of Machinists (1891-1965).

Chronology of the IAMAW

  • 1888 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.
  • 1889 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.
  • 1890 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.
  • 1891 IAM Local 145 asks $3 for a 10-hour workday.
  • 1892 First railroad agreement signed with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe.
  • 1895 The IAM joins American Federation of Labor (AFL), and moves its headquarters to Chicago, Illinois.
  • 1898 IAM Local 52, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania conducts the first successful strike for a 9-hour workday.
  • 1899 Time-and-a-half pay for overtime work has become a prevalent practice for Machinist wage earners. Headquarters are moved to Washington, D.C.
  • 1903 Specialists are admitted to membership, and the drive begins for an 8-hour workday.
  • 1905 Apprentices are admitted to membership. There are 769 locals with Railroad machinists earning 36 to 43 cents an hour for a 9-hour workday.
  • 1908 The Metal Trades Department is established within the American Federation of Labor (AFL) with IAM President James O'Connell as its president.
  • 1911 Women are admitted to IAM membership with equal rights.
  • 1912 Railway Employees Department is established within the American Federation of Labor with IAM President A. O. Wharton as President.
  • 1914 Congress passes the Clayton Act limiting use of injunctions in labor disputes and making picketing legal.
  • 1915 The IAM wins the 8-hour workday in many shops and factories, and the union affiliates with the International Metalworkers Federation.
  • 1916 Auto mechanics are admitted to IAM membership.
  • 1918 IAM membership reaches 331,000.
  • 1920 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.
  • 1920 Machinists earn 72 to 90 cents an hour for a 44-hour workweek.
  • 1922 79,000 railroad machinists pin shopmen's strike against second post-war wage cut. Membership declines to 148,000.
  • 1924> The IAM convention endorses Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., for President.
  • 1926 Congress passes the Railway Labor Act requiring carriers to bargain, and forbidding discrimination against union members.
  • 1927 IAM urges ratification of the Child Labor Amendments to the U.S. Constitution; 2,500,000 children under 16 are working at substandard wages.
  • 1928 250 delegates at the 18th IAM convention urge a 5-day workweek to alleviate unemployment.
  • 1929 Depression layoffs cut IAM membership to 70,000.
  • 1932 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.
  • 1933 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.
  • 1934 The IAM establishes the Research Department.
  • 1935 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.
  • 1936 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.
  • 1937 The Social Security and Railroad Retirement Acts are now in effect, and IAM negotiates paid vacations in 26% of its agreements.
  • 1939 IAM signs first union agreement in air transport industry with Eastern Airlines.
  • 1940 Machinists' rates average 80 cents an hour, and the IAM pledges full support to National Defense program. IAM membership climbs to 188,000.
  • 1941 The IAM pledges support to win the war (WWII), including making a no-strike pledge.
  • 1944 76,000 IAM members serve in the armed forces, and the total membership is now at 776,000.
  • 1945 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.
  • 1946 88% of IAM agreements now provide for paid vacations.
  • 1947 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.
  • 1948 IAM membership is opened to all regardless of race. The IAM convention endorses Harry S Truman for President.
  • 1949 Railroad machinists win a 40-hour week. Membership is now down to 501,000.
  • 1950 The IAM joins International Transport Workers Federation. Machinists now average $1.82 an hour.
  • 1951 The IAM pledges full support of United Nations action in Korea.
  • 1952 Employees on 85% of airlines are now protected by IAM agreements. 92% of IAM contracts provide for paid holidays.
  • 1953 The IAM has contracts fixing wages and working conditions with 13,500 employers. The IAM Atomic Energy Conference is organized.
  • 1955 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.
  • 1956 2,000th active local is chartered, and a new ten-story Machinists Building is dedicated at 1300 Connecticut Ave., Washington, DC.
  • 1958 The IAM convention establishes a strike fund, which was approved by the membership in a referendum vote. IAM membership now tops 903,000.
  • 1959 The United States Congress enacts the anti-union Landrum-Griffin Act.
  • 1960 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.
  • 1962The 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.
  • 1964 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.
  • 1966 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.
  • 1967 Railroad Machinists lead shopcrafts against the nation's railroad, and the United States Congress forces a return to work and arbitration.
  • 1968 IAM membership tops 1,000,000. Machinists average S3.44 an hour.
  • 1969 IAM member, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, the first space mechanic, walks on the moon.
  • 1970 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.
  • 1971IAM 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.
  • 1972 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.
  • 1973 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.
  • 1974 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."
  • >1976 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.
  • 1977 William W. Winpisinger is sworn in as the IAM's 11th president.
  • 1979 Citizen/Labor Energy Coalition launches first Stop Big Oil day to protest obscene profits by oil conglomerates while American workers' paychecks continue to shrink.
  • 1980 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.
  • 1981 Older Workers and Retired Members Department is established at the Grand Lodge.
  • 1982 "Reaganomics" grips the nation. Individual and corporate bankruptcies reach epidemic proportions. IAM membership begins drop to 820,211.
  • 1983 IAM introduces "Rebuilding America" act to Congress as an alternative to Reaganomics and to rebuild nation's industrial base.
  • 1984 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.
  • 1987 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.
  • 1988IAM celebrates its 100th anniversary in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 5.
  • 1989 George J. Kourpias sworn in as the IAM's 12th president.
  • 1992 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.
  • 1994 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.
  • 1995 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.
  • 1996 "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.
  • 199 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.
  • 1998 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.
  • 1999 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.
  • 2000 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 IAMAW meets in San Francisco for the 35th Grand Lodge Convention. The delegates establish Communicator and Educator positions.
  • 2001 IAMAW 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.
  • 2002 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.
  • 2003 The IAMAW creates the Department of Employment Services to help members cope with the worst recession in years; Tony Chapman named its director. IAM leaders meet in Cincinnati, Ohio. IP Buffenbarger vows "No more business as usual." Presidential candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt address the IAM leaders; Gephardt endorsed for president. GVP George Hooper passes away. Robert Martinez named Southern Territory GVP. ST Don Wharton Retires, Eastern Territory GVP Warren Mart succeeds Wharton. Lynn Tucker takes over as the Eastern GVP. James Brown takes over the Midwest Territory with the retirement of Alex Bay.
  • 2004 The IAM Executive Council marches with thousands of trade unionists in Miami to protest Free Trade Area of the Americas. President George W. Bush's "Wall of Shame" tours Iowa during that state's presidential caucuses to bring job losses onto the national radar screen. CyberLodge, the innovative, open-source initiative to organize information technology workers opens for business. Former IAM President William W. Winpisinger is inducted into the International Labor Hall of Fame. The 36th Grand Lodge Convention convenes in Cincinnati and salutes North America's Might. Vice presidential candidate Senator John Edwards from North Carolina appears at a convention rally after a unanimous endorsement of Senator John Kerry and Senator Edwards by the delegates.


41.62 Linear Feet (in 4 boxes, 1 half-box, 1 5x3 card file, 4 clamshell boxes, 1 artifact box, 10 oversize boxes, 1 posters box, 3 textile boxes, and 1 hat box)

Language of Materials


Off-Site Storage

Collection is stored offsite. Allow at least 2 working days for retrieval.

Acquisition Information

Items donated by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

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.

Processing Information

Processed by Kira Homo and Special Collections staff, circa 1988-2007.

  • 2 plaques (Honorary doctorate presentation IAM341 and Ullico Director's Award IAM46?)
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:
A Guide to Its Artifact Collection at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
June 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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