The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced that General Vice President Bob Martinez, Jr. will succeed current International President Tom Buffenbarger, who steps down on Jan.1, 2016 after a 45-year career that spans service as a local IAM Shop Steward to more than 18 years as the IAM’s top elected official.
The announcement follows a vote by the union’s 11-member Executive Council, in accordance with the IAM Constitutional requirement for senior elected officials to leave office at age 65. Martinez, a 35-year IAM veteran will serve the remainder of Buffenbarger’s current 4-year term, which concludes July 1, 2017.
“There have been 13 International Presidents since the Machinists Union was founded in 1888,” said Buffenbarger. “The strength of this union has always been its ability to cultivate leaders who respect and reflect the values and goals of our membership. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of that heritage and I have full confidence that Bob Martinez is the right person to carry on that proud tradition.”
A native of Texas, Martinez served in the U.S. Navy before joining the IAM in 1980 as an aircraft assembler at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Ft. Worth, TX. Rising through the ranks, Martinez held numerous positions at the local and district level before assuming the office of Southern Territory Vice President in July 2003. In addition to his current position as Vice President in charge of IAM Headquarters, Martinez serves as a Trustee of the IAM National Pension Fund, and is Vice President on the National Executive Board of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).
Buffenbarger’s tenure as International President was marked by a commitment to organizing, financial stability and a recognition that diversity in local and senior leadership is a key to remaining relevant in the modern workplace. The current IAM Executive Council is now among the most diverse in the labor movement, including men and women of African American, Hispanic, Native American and European heritage.