Baltimore County Fully Funds County Public Library Workers’ First Labor Contract – Illinois Machinists Raise $100K to Support State Workers’ Rights Amendment – Georgia Machinists Talk Working People Issues with Senator Warnock

IAM APPLAUDS BALTIMORE COUNTY COUNCIL FOR PASSING MEASURE THAT FULLY FUNDS COUNTY PUBLIC WORKERS’ FIRST LABOR CONTRACT: The IAM applauds the Baltimore County Council for passing a resolution this evening that finalizes all remaining details and ratifies the first collective bargaining agreement covering about 460 Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) employees.

The council unanimously passed Resolution 32-22, which approved the remaining portions of the contract not finalized until after the county’s fiscal year budget deadline.

The one-year collective bargaining agreement, which was overwhelmingly ratified by BCPL employees in May, includes pay increases, and paid leave, among other significant improvements. Among several work rule improvements, the agreement creates a labor-management committee.

“I thank the Baltimore County Council members for voting to pass this resolution, which finalizes a contract that gives BCPL workers a voice in the workplace, as well as the strong wages and benefits they greatly deserve,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr. “I also thank Baltimore County Executive John  Olszewski, Jr., for his continued support of these BCPL workers, who are so important to the growth and prosperity of Baltimore County and its residents.”

The council’s action follows a groundswell of support from advocates urging the panel to vote “yes” on the resolution. That includes Martinez writing a letter to the panel, as well as Donna Edwards, president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, who urged passage of the resolution. During its work session on Aug. 30, the county committee heard testimony from other advocates urging a “yes” vote, including BCPL Board of Trustees President Maureen David.

The first contract with BCPL comes after years of organizing, including the IAM winning a new state law allowing BCPL employees to collectively bargain.

ILLINOIS MACHINISTS RAISE $100K TO SUPPORT STATE WORKERS’ RIGHTS AMENDMENT: IAM Districts and Locals in Illinois have raised $100,000 to support an Illinois constitutional guarantee of workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. The Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment would be one of four such guarantees enshrined in state constitutions, but Illinois Amendment 1 goes a step further than other states by also banning anti-union “right-to-work” laws.

The IAM is joining the Illinois AFL-CIO and legislative allies to promote the passage of the pro-worker ballot initiative, which will be on the ballot for Illinois voters on Nov. 8, 2022. To amend the state constitution, 60% of voters will need to vote “yes.”

The proposed amendment would add a new section to the Illinois Bill of Rights guaranteeing workers the fundamental rights to organize and bargain collectively and to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions. It would also prohibit any law from being passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety.The pro-worker efforts under Illinois Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker are in stark contrast to former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who failed in his effort to pass a statewide anti-union “right-to-work” law to weaken unions in 2015. At that time, Rauner declared that Illinois cities, counties, towns and villages could enact “right-to-work” laws. State courts threw that measure out.

“IAM members in Illinois, along with our allies in labor and state government, are leading the charge to make the state more worker-friendly,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “It’s our hope that other states will also make efforts to put workers’ rights at the forefront of their state constitutions.”

Learn more about the Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment and take action with the Illinois AFL-CIO.

TCU/IAM Joins Rally with Reps. Kaptur and Ryan to Support Rail Workers: TCU/IAM National Legislative Director William DeCarlo recently joined U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan(D-Oh), along with other unions, at a rally to support rail industry workers. Rep. Ryan is running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio.

READ: Candidate Tim Ryan holds rally for railroad workers Toledo Blade

“Reps. Kaptur and Ryan have always been on the side of labor,” said DeCarlo. “Rail workers all across our nation need strong leaders to stand in solidarity with us as we continue to fight for a fair contract that benefits our families and communities.”

The rally was held to bring attention to railroad workers’ fight to gain a fair contract along with respect and dignity. Since that rally, freight rail members of the IAM Rail Division have reached a tentative agreement with railroads bargaining under the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC).

The IAM Rail Division consists of IAM District 19, the Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM), and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC).

READ: IAM Rail Division Reaches Tentative Agreements that Include Highest-Ever Wage Increases for Freight Rail Workers

“This comes after a long, tough process that began almost three years ago and led us through every step of the Railway Labor Act, including a Presidential Emergency Board,” said Josh Hartford, IAM Special Assistant to the International President. “Since serving Section Six Notices, your IAM Rail Division leaders have fought tirelessly, advocating in your best interests and demanding a fair agreement.”

“This Agreement ensures that every single penny of the recommendations contained in PEB 250 goes directly into our member’s pockets,” said TCU/IAM National President Arthur Maratea. “TCU/IAM members will receive thousands of dollars in back pay as well as thousands of dollars from increased wages through this agreement. There is no question getting to a PEB and receiving these recommendations would never have been possible without all of Rail Labor coming together. The Unions stood together, determined to fight the Carriers’ proposals to slash healthcare benefits, attack our work rules and eliminate two-man crews. We were successful in that fight.”

Members of the IAM Rail Division will begin voting on the tentative agreement soon.

USDA SECRETARY VILSACK RESPONDS TO NFFE LETTERS ON WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER PAY, JOB SERIES, AND HOUSING: Last week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded to NFFE’s correspondence on necessary reforms for federal wildland firefighters. This summer, NFFE National President Randy Erwin sent four separate letters to Secretary Vilsack, emphasizing issues with firefighter pay, their occupational series, and housing for Forest Service employees.

In addressing wildland firefighter pay, Secretary Vilsack highlighted the agency’s efforts to work with DOI and OPM to distribute special funding required by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provided significant pay raises for almost every wildland firefighter across the country. In addition, Sec. Vilsack stated, “We agree that we need a permanent pay solution, and we will continue to work with DOI and OPM to accomplish that,” and “we are working with DOI and OPM on a joint FY24 proposal for a permanent updated, competitive, and equitable pay structure, along with a support system that will address the many challenges that have plagued our wildland firefighter workforce for decades.”  

Regarding the firefighter job series, Sec. Vilsack indicated the new series will be implemented in the coming months and that current employees will have the option to stay in their current series or to be placed in the new series. The letter also states, “we will continue to explore overtime, hazard pay, portal to portal and differentials as they pertain to the new series.”

Lastly, Secretary Vilsack wrote, “The Forest Service recognizes that housing is a dilemma across the nation and particularly for Forest Service employees, including firefighters…USDA continues to work to find solutions that will benefit all employees and resolve many of the disparities you have identified.”

“It is very encouraging to see that Secretary Vilsack understands the issues facing wildland firefighters,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “When we met with the Secretary in his office earlier this summer, he was committed to addressing these problems and finding ways to ensure NFFE-IAM members on the front lines of the fire crisis are taken care of. NFFE will continue to work with USDA, DOI, OPM, as well as lawmakers in Congress and leaders in the White House to finally address all these critical issues with permanent solutions.”

Read the letter in full here.

IAM Urges Members of Congress to Cosponsor Nationwide Right to Unionize Act: IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. wrote a letter to members of Congress urging them to cosponsor the National Right to Unionize Act being introduced by U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). Sherman has previously introduced this legislation in the last seven Congresses.

The letter supports the legislation that would ban so-called right-to-work laws that harm workers and suppress wages. Studies have concluded that employees in states with these anti-labor laws average about $11,059 a year less than workers in labor rights states.

“We need your support to help reverse the negative impacts of state’s right-to-work laws,” IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. wrote in the letter.

Right-to-Work laws make it almost impossible to maintain a union. They force labor representatives to provide benefits to free riders who avoid paying their fair share. This legislation would eliminate the provision of the Taft-Hartley Act which allows so-called “Right-to-Work” laws.
“With the introduction of legislation banning so-called ‘Right-to-Work’ laws, Congressman Sherman has once again demonstrated his strong commitment to working families.,” the late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said of the bill when it was introduced last congress. “‘Right-to-Work’ laws undermine the economy and weaken workers’ ability to bargain for better working conditions, which translates into lower pay and fewer benefits for everyone.”

“So-called “Right-to-Work” laws are designed to make it difficult to organize a union,” said Sherman. “This impacts not only workers who want a union — but general wage levels throughout the state. In an ill-conceived effort to attract business, one state after another has adopted these anti-union laws in a race to the bottom. That is why I’ve introduced the National Right to Unionize Act in every session of Congress since 2008. And, it is why Senator Warren’s years of effort to pass this legislation in the Senate are so important.”

Read the complete letter.

Georgia Machinists Union Members Talk Organizing, Working People Issues with Senator Warnock: Machinists Union leaders and members in Georgia recently met with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) about IAM organizing efforts in the state and legislation benefitting working families.

The Augusta, GA event, hosted by the Georgia AFL-CIO and the Augusta Central Labor Council, included a roundtable discussion with Warnock, covering subjects such as the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Warnock has supported these pro-worker efforts.

The IAM also had a conversation with Warnock about an ongoing IAM organizing campaign in the state. Warnock offered his support to help employees form a union with the IAM without company interference.

IAM attendees included IAM District 131 Directing Business Representative William Barnwell, IAM District 131 Organizer Ashley Burgamy, IAM Local 2789 President Richard Rountree, and IAM Local 2789 Vice President Roseal Goss.

“The IAM supports elected officials who support working people,” said Barnwell. “We are incredibly grateful to Senator Warnock for his steadfast support of working families throughout Georgia.”

“On behalf of the Southern Territory, we’re so thankful for our engaged membership in Georgia,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “Their activism is making a difference in their communities, their state, and in our entire nation.”

IAM Pushes for Further Labor Input on Indo-Pacific Framework: The IAM recently urged members of Congress to sign onto a letter from Reps. DeLauro, DeFazio, Scott, Doggett, McGovern, Ryan, and Schakowsky urging the Biden administration to better consult with Congress and stakeholder groups on the Indo-Pacific Framework (IPEF) and other pending trade agreements.

On Sept. 7, the Congressional letter was sent to federal agency leaders involved in the IPEF, including United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

Read the Congressional letter here.

“IPEF is poised to set rules governing roughly 40% of the global economy,” IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. wrote in the letter to members of Congress. “We believe that a transparent and participatory negotiating process that involves public stakeholders and U.S. Congress, instead of mostly just corporate interests, is critical to achieving the worker-centered trade model that President Biden and others have championed. IPEF is expected to be the most consequential trade initiative of the Biden administration and is being proposed at a time when voters are increasingly skeptical of trade deals.”

The organizations  – representing a broad swath of labor, environmental, human rights, faith, family farm, and consumer organizations – warned the deal could be viewed in the same light as the unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) if it is drafted in a manner that bars the public from reviewing negotiating texts, while corporate advisors maintain access.

The IAM has called for the IPEF to include binding and enforceable labor and environmental standards and should include input from Congress, which has the expertise of lawmakers and support staff who know labor, environment, supply chain, and other factors involved in fair trade policy.

More than 100 labor and civil society groups recently asked the administration for greater transparency in the IPEF negotiations.

Read the complete letter.   

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