Opening Speech of Newton B. Jones, International President
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
32nd Consolidated Convention
Las Vegas, Nevada
July 25, 2011
Brothers and Sisters, every Boilermaker here today – and each one working across the great continent of North America – is a living, breathing example of our rich, 131-year-history.
It is a history constructed from our unique skills, our commitment to our craft and our willingness to innovate. A history built with care and pride from state to state and province to province . . . a history that touches all those who live in North America and beyond.
Brothers and sisters, Boilermakers changed the world. Our industrial age as we know it would not have been possible without the steam boilers our forefathers built. The boilers that soon powered the industries and the innovations of the industrial revolution.
Imagine life today without the history Boilermakers helped write on this continent. From the steam locomotives that opened the potential of our continent to the fuel that powers our transportation today . . . from the comforts of the air conditioning we enjoy . . . the food we eat . . . the water we drink . . . to the most simple pleasures of this advanced society . . . the hard work and skill of Boilermakers has touched the lives of everyone in North America.
While the skills of a Boilermaker were forged much earlier, our great Brotherhood was founded in 1880 by men whose skill helped to harness the steam that powered our ships, our saw and flour mills, our printing presses and textile factories – all of the machines that helped to push the economy and our society into a new age.
From the age that gave birth to our skills and our great Brotherhood, through times of peace and times of war, and through every year and every event in between – Boilermakers have labored as the unsung heroes of our two great nations. Without the work of Boilermakers, this would truly be a different world than we know it today.
When a Boilermaker strikes an arc two join two pieces of steel . . . or flags a big rig to set a multi-ton vessel . . . or skillfully connects the bow of an Aegis destroyer to its hull . . . the average citizen may enjoy the end product of our labor . . . but, like so many things that we enjoy today, they do not think about the skills and hard work it took by Boilermakers and our fellow crafts, to make it so.
And so, inevitably, and so very often they ask . . . What is a Boilermaker? Well, it is time to tell our story. And as you will see with this convention, we celebrate our history, our story, our skills and our devotion to our heritage.
Just as a rivet joins two pieces of steel, each of us is joined to one another by a deep commitment to our union and a sincere desire to lift the lives of Boilermakers throughout North America.
We are bonded together in solidarity. And the best way for us to honor our forefathers is by preserving that solidarity – through good times and bad.
So as you participate in the discussions and consider the resolutions of this 32nd Consolidated Convention, I would urge you to keep our forefathers and our great history in mind.
As Daniel Webster said just decades before the founding of our Brotherhood, “Those who do not look upon themselves as a link connecting the past with the future, do not perform their duty to the world.”
Brothers and Sisters, you are the link Webster talked about. While you are here, your world is made up of the members who elected you to represent their interests at this Convention. And your duty is to do the business of this great organization – to consider each resolution carefully and to act in the very best interests of the people who elected you to speak on their behalf.
We have a lot to be proud of and a great legacy to protect . . . one that was passed to us by our forefathers . . . one that we will pass to future generations of Boilermakers.
That legacy lives and breathes from Toronto to Toledo . . . from Edmonton, Alberta to Hammond, Indiana . . . from Helena, Montana to Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
It is a legacy that we live every day.
Every day, Boilermakers sacrifice – doing the hard, dangerous and difficult work that keeps our citizens comfortable and our nations strong.
So, do not question – for one moment – whether you are making a difference. Instead, take a moment and look at the evidence that is all around us. It may be taken for granted too often, but if it were not for the hard work of our great craft and our dedicated members, we would know a different world today.
Every day, in every way, Boilermakers do the work that keeps our nations moving forward. Every day, you are committed to producing the goods and services that our fellow citizens rely on. You are committed to excellence. Committed to “doing the job right the first time.”
That is because you know what it means to have special skills and deep pride in your work. You understand that each day of hard work provides one more day of care for you and your family.
Each day of hard work helps you set wages aside so your children can go to college. Helps you care for a parent today like they cared for you – yesterday.
So, as we prepare to begin this Convention, let us vow to work like never before to lift up the lives of the members of our Brotherhood no matter where they may be – no matter the exact work they may do or the sort of tool they may hold in their hand.
From industrial construction, repair and maintenance. To manufacturing, shipbuilding and marine repair. From railroads, mining and quarrying. To cement kilns and other industries, we all answer to one name. And that name is “Boilermaker.”
Let us vow to remember the Boilermaker bond we share – a bond that for 131 years has kept us strong and moving forward.
Through each and every challenge – the ones we may face this week and the ones we may face when we return home – let us remain confident that we will succeed, that we will continue moving forward.
And may each of you always remember that you have within you something that has beaten steady and strong for over one hundred years. Something that will continue to beat in the same exceptional and reliable way for generations to come.
What you have is remarkable and special. It is rare and valuable. You have the same thing our forefathers had when they breathed our great Brotherhood to life.
You have it.
(pointing to audience)
You have it.
(pointing to second area of audience)
And you have it.
(pointing to third area of audience)
Every single one of you has it.
You have the heart of a Boilermaker.
Brothers and Sisters, welcome to the 32nd Consolidated Convention of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers!