Bryan Bryant is sworn in as the new president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Courtesy of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

A former Bath Iron Works pipefitter has been installed as president of one of the largest labor unions in North America.

Brian Bryant was sworn in Friday as the new leader of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents about 600,000 active and retired workers in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. It’s the parent union of Machinists Union Local S6, which represents about 4,250 of BIW’s 6,500 workers.

“As a third-generation union member who began this journey building ships in Bath, Maine, this is truly a moment I will never forget,” Bryant said during a ceremony at the union’s headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “Thank you for this opportunity to continue your fight. We will not let you down.”

Bryant is the union’s 15th president. He replaced Robert Martinez Jr., who retired.

“Brian Bryant knows what it means to lead,” Martinez said. “He has a vision for the future to engage and inspire our membership.”

Bryant joined Local S6 in 1989 and was elected shop steward, trustee and eventually president. He was elected a directing business representative of the Machinists Union in 1998 and went on to hold a variety of positions, most recently general vice president.

Bryant credited his father, who worked as a union print operator for 44 years at a Maine paper mill.

“He showed me the value of a union contract and gave me his work ethic,” he said.

The Machinists Union was founded in 1888 when a group of machinists earning 20-25 cents an hour for a 10-hour day met in a locomotive pit in Atlanta, Georgia, and voted to unionize. Today, the union represents workers at companies like Boeing, Harley-Davidson and Southwest Airlines.

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