A former Bath Iron Works pipefitter has been named the next president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the shipyard’s parent union and one of the largest unions in North America.

Brian Bryant. Courtesy of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Brian Bryant will succeed Robert Martinez Jr., who is retiring on Jan. 1. Martinez was the first Latino international president of a major American labor union and served for eight years.

“I am honored to follow in the footsteps of an amazing leader and educator,” Bryant said in a statement. “Bob has been a great mentor and has left our union in a great place. I am humbled by the support of my colleagues on the IAM Executive Council for putting their faith in me and I am committed to building upon the legacy of the 14 international presidents who came before me. The time is now to shape a strong, diverse, and new future for the IAM, and I look forward to listening to our membership as I travel throughout North America.”

The Machinists Union, based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, represents about 600,000 active and retired workers in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam, including about 4,250 workers at BIW, as well as employees of companies like Harley-Davidson, Southwest Airlines and Boeing. BIW’s Local S6 union in August approved a new three-year contract after going on strike in 2020.

Bryant, a Maine native, is a former president of Local S6. He has been a member of the Machinists Union for 34 years and is currently its resident general vice president.

“Brian is a proven leader who deeply understands the challenges facing our union,” Martinez said. “IAM members should be proud to have someone who will fight tirelessly for them, their families, and their communities. His experience in organizing, servicing, and managing staff and finances will serve the membership well. He is the right person to lead the IAM into the future.”

The Machinists Union was founded in 1888 when 19 machinists earning 20-25 cents an hour for a 10-hour day met in a locomotive pit in Atlanta, Georgia, and voted to form a union.

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