|Tuesday, September 28, 2004|
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Campaigns Fail to Reach Young Voters
Warren L. Mart
Robert V. Thayer
Robert Roach, Jr.
Among the actions taken by delegates to the 36th Grand Lodge Convention was a resolution authorizing the IAM Executive Council to withdraw the IAM from the AFL-CIO if actions by that organization ever threaten the IAM’s “autonomy, independence or integrity.”
The resolution is the latest move in a simmering debate over the future direction and control of the 60-union federation. “There exists within the labor movement, a cabal of leaders who think that they – not we – know what’s best for the Machinists Union,” said Buffenbarger in closed-door remarks to delegates before the resolution was approved.
The IP identified the New Unity Partnership (NUP), a four-union group led by SEIU President Andy Stern, as the group calling for the number of affiliated unions to be collapsed from 60 to about fifteen unions.
Bankruptcy Court Rejects UAL Propaganda Brief
United Airlines last week filed a 100 plus page piece of propaganda in bankruptcy court designed to convince IAM members and the court that terminating pension plans wouldn’t adversely affect employees. The IAM, AFA and the PBGC immediately responded with an emergency motion to strike United’s brief.
Within hours of the union motion, the judge declared United's filing of a so-called “information brief” improper and ordered it stricken from the court’s records.
In newspaper articles, United Airlines called its employees’ unions “absurd” for actively defending their members’ interests in court.
“United may call us names, but the IAM will utilize every legal option available to defend our members, their contracts and their pensions,” said District 141 President Randy Canale.
EPI: Unemployment Benefit “Exhaustion Rate” at 63-Year High
In 2003, 43.4 percent of people receiving state unemployment benefits ended up exhausting all their benefits without finding another job, said a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute. The unemployment exhaustion rate, a critical measure of employment stability, has not been this high since 1941.
Unemployment Insurance programs replace a portion of the income workers lose when they are temporarily unemployed. The high UI exhaustion rate is a result of the lack of jobs created in 2003, the worst job creation since the 1930s. As a result, the UI program did not provide an adequate safety net for millions of jobless workers.
Despite the employment crisis, the GOP-controlled Congress failed to extend the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation program in late December of 2003. The expiration of the program came at a time when unemployment spells were at their longest average duration in 20 years and with more than 1.1 million workers reaching exhaustion of their benefits by the end of March.
US Airways Seeks Temporary Cuts
US Airways filed a motion in bankruptcy court asking a judge to impose temporary contract terms on employees represented by the IAM and other unions at the carrier.
The airline is seeking authority to impose an immediate 23 percent pay reduction, cease payments to pension plans, eliminate the minimum aircraft it is required to operate and outsource IAM members’ work.
The IAM responded with a request for US Airways to provide sufficient information to independently assess the company’s need for such drastic contract modifications.
Seniors Rally for Affordable Drugs
Hundreds of seniors and working families rallied on Capitol Hill in an effort to convince Senate GOP leaders to schedule a vote on a bill to allow re-importation of affordable prescription drugs from Canada.
Despite approval in the House of a bill that would allows U.S. residents to purchase medications from other countries, Republican leaders in the Senate are refusing to let senators vote on it.
“Drug companies charge American consumers the highest prices in the world. Some medicines cost American patients five times more than they cost patients in other countries,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
The Alliance for Retired Americans will also hold a rally in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Sept. 29 protesting the Bush administration’s anti-senior, anti-family policies. The “Socked Out Seniors” Rally is being held to let the Bush administration know that seniors will not support a candidate who supports the privatization of Social Security and the dismantling of the traditional Medicare program.
Maytag Contract Ratified
Machinists from Local Lodge 1526 in Conroy, Iowa ratified a three year contract with the Maytag Corp.’s Amana Refrigeration plant on Saturday, providing them a pay raise and other incentives.
The contract, which covers nearly 3,000 workers, comes after the recent shutdown of a Maytag plant in Galesburg, Illinois, where 1,600 Machinists lost their jobs.
Maytag, which moved production to Mexico, has received harsh criticism for the shut down. IAM Local Lodge 2063 President Dave Bevard and the local’s members have received national attention from the likes of CNN and Lou Dobbs thanks to their fight to save not only their own jobs, but the jobs of others.
Michigan Auto Techs Win First Agreement
The Auto Technicians at Jackson Ford, Inc. in Jackson, Michigan are celebrating their first IAM contract after joining the Machinists Union. The new agreement brings the total number of first agreements in the Eastern Territory to 23 for the year.
“On behalf of the Eastern Territory Office and its members, I extend our congratulations and appreciation to District Lodge 97 Directing Business Representative Pete Jazdzyk, Business Representative Stacey Arnold, Grand Lodge Representative Paul Shemanski, Bargaining Committee members Troy Hamlin and Bill Dancer and a special thanks to our determined members at Jackson Ford, Inc.,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker.
Sweet Victory for Splenda Workers
After Hurricane Ivan forced organizers to postpone the election, 95 workers at Tate and Lyle Sucralose, Inc. won their fight for IAM representation. The workers in McIntosh, AL make Splenda sweetener. Hurricane Ivan struck the area on September 16, delayed the voting for a week. “Things were a little hectic for awhile,” said IAM Grand Lodge Organizer Al Granado. “The hurricane was the big story.”
The in-plant organizing committee made up of 32 members, which included Apprentices, Tommy Mayfield and Carlos San Miguel. “I’d like to thank them for going above and beyond the call of duty,” said Granado, “and they all did a great job, keeping everyone together.”
“I want to welcome our newest members to the IAM fold,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Bob Martinez. “Congratulations to Brother Granado and his crew for a great win.” I also want to thank the Organizing Department and the Southern Territory for all their help and District Lodge 73 Directing Business Representative Benny Wallace and Business Representative Joe Harrington for a great job.” “It was a well-deserved win.” The group will join District Lodge 73.
The District hopes to start negotiations right away and the company was “very receptive” said Granado.
The official site for the 36th Grand
Lodge Convention to be held in 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio is now
online. Check it our for convention news, sponsorship offers, and