Several hundred representatives from maritime labor and industry as well as local government heard both honorees extol the need for recruiting and training young workers into the trades during the Puget Sound Ports Council’s annual Maritime Day labor-management luncheon on May 21.
Machinist Larry Brown was recognized as the council’s Maritime Person of the Year while UA member Marty Yellam received its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Brown said he was “surprised to get the award, especially as an aerospace worker.” He did note he served four years in the U.S. Navy in the engine department.
He said union members and leadership have a choice, “How will we compete in the global environment?” He stated many want workers to accept lower standards by forcing them “to accept what we aren’t accustomed to.”
Brown, who serves as legislative director for IAM Lodge 751, called for promotion of workforce councils, and support for “a first-class transportation system.
“We have a thriving maritime environment here. We can’t let that go.”
In presenting Brown, PMC Secretary-Treasurer Vince O’Halloran praised the Machinist for all his hard work for all union members in the state of Washington.
Yellam came straight out of high school to work at Todd Shipyard starting in 1979, which is when he joined UA Local 32. During his labor career, he rose to business agent with the local and served as treasurer of the Puget Sound Metal Trades Council.
He noted that recruiting new young workers into the maritime trades has been difficult, but he believes the times are changing for the better. He added the industry has developed a path to the skilled trades.
“We have struggled for sustainable work, but I believe in the resurgence in shipbuilding.”
He was introduced by Boilermaker Nate Ford, who handled labor relations at Todd Shipyard.