The history of the IAM is intertwined with the history of commercial transportation in the United States. Founded in 1888 by 19 railroad workers in Atlanta, the Machinists Union signed its first airline industry contract with Eastern Air Lines in 1939. Since then, the IAM has grown to be the largest and most diverse airline union in North America. Current and former Machinists Union members are employed at every major airline in the United States.
More than 180,000 IAM members manufacture civil air transport, military and general aviation aircraft; perform non-routine and overhaul aircraft maintenance at airlines and independent MROs; load cargo and perform various airport support functions; take airline reservations; check in passengers and provide critical safety functions in flight.
IAM members serve the traveling public as flight attendants, aircraft mechanics, fleet service workers, reservation agents, stock clerks, passenger service agents, office & clerical employees, aircraft fuelers, flight simulator technicians and food service employees. IAM members maintain the Space Shuttle and support Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.
The IAM is the certified bargaining agent for approximately one hundred fifty (150) agreements covering national air carriers, national service companies, foreign flag carriers, commuter airlines and airline servicing companies in the United States.
The IAM has negotiated the industry's best contracts in both the low cost carrier sector as well as the major hub and spoke carriers. IAM members are an integral part of the aviation industry – from the time a design leaves the drawing board until a beverage is served in-flight, and every step along the way the Machinists Union is involved.
The IAM is affiliated with the AFL-CIO; Canadian Labour Congress (CLC); Railway Labor Executives’ Association; International Labor Organization; International Metalworkers Federation; International Transport Workers Federation.