Success Story: Iron Workers International

About Iron Workers:

The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, AFL-CIO (IW), is a proud trade association whose beginnings go back 125 years to 1896. The union represents 120,000 members who work on: bridges; structural steel, ornamental, architectural and miscellaneous metals; rebar; and in fabrication shops across North America. Its members have worked on nearly every major construction project you can think of – the Golden Gate Bridge, the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago, the St. Louis Arch, the Oil Sands Plant Expansion in Alberta, the World Trade Center, the Freedom Tower, all major airports, large sporting venues and many more.

IW have over 150 Training Centers throughout North America and provides many benefits and support for members – such as the advantage of working under a collective bargaining agreement that brings bigger paychecks, better health and retirement benefits, more secure jobs and safe working conditions.

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The Challenge:

The 2021 International Officers election was the first in the 125-year history of Iron Workers to be administered electronically. In previous elections, the union used traditional paper balloting systems. This time, it decided to move to DirectVoteLive – a software-as-a-service platform that enables voting groups to securely conduct their business, regardless of whether or not people are physically in the same place.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve had to change how we operate to ensure the safety of our members and convention delegates. In particular, we’ve needed a platform that enables virtual voting, as well as safe, hardware-free voting when we meet in person,” said Kevin Byrnes, chief of staff for Iron Workers. “DirectVoteLive helped us accomplish all of our goals and more. It’s a much more efficient way of doing business and our members love it, so we’ll definitely keep using it going forward.”

The Solution:

Iron Workers made the switch to a virtual voting platform, and ultimately chose DirectVoteLive, for several reasons:

  • Societal and organizational restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic made traditional voting systems obsolete. Paper balloting and other clicker-based voting systems require a significant amount of interpersonal contact, which organizations everywhere are trying to minimize nowadays.
  • The electronic election took one hour from start to finish instead of the full day paper elections used to require. This enabled Iron Workers to allocate more time to other important union business. It also cost less to administer from a materials standpoint.
  • Members and delegates, in the convention election and all prior interface tests, reported the platform to be on the cutting edge of technology and remarkably fast and easy to use.
  • DirectVoteLive provided a stable, secure and credible voting interface that minimized risks traditionally associated with human error and other possible events.
  • Seamless execution. To ensure everyone was ready for the live vote, Iron Works ran a mock election within DirectVoteLive for voting delegates.
  • Transparency and equitability: Union executives were adamant that a Canadian officer candidate was treated as fairly and equitably during the process as other candidates.

Results and Benefits:

“Our election went off without a hitch, and everyone found DirectVoteLive to be so easy to use,” said Tim Strecker, director of IT for Iron Workers. “Plus, our delegates could vote using their own phones or devices; we didn’t need clickers, paper ballots or anything else. There’s no question the platform made the election process safer and more efficient.”