Fully Invest in the IAM-Built F-35 Program– NFFE-IAM Wildland Firefighters Call for Respect — First Contract at Cascades

LARGEST AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE UNION URGES ADMINISTRATION TO FULLY INVEST IN THE IAM-BUILT F-35 PROGRAMIAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. sent a letter to President Biden urging a robust F-35 Lightning II program investment in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 Defense Department budget request. The F-35 program currently provides for tens of thousands of high-quality Machinists Union jobs, which supports more than 250,000 direct and indirect jobs nationwide, and is the only 5th generation stealth fighter currently in production. 

“Thousands of Machinists Union members and their families across the country rely on these irreplaceable jobs supported by the program—from the F-35 primary production facility in Fort Worth, Texas to its engine manufacturing facility in Middletown, Connecticut and across the program’s vast network of suppliers from West Palm Beach, Florida to northern California,” said Martinez. “All told, the F-35 program supports more than 254,000 direct and indirect jobs nationwide. The program’s network of suppliers includes more than 1,800 first-tier suppliers across the country supporting high-skilled jobs and more than $49 billion in annual economic impact spread across all 50 states. Your administration’s strong budgetary support of the F-35 Lightning II program is necessary to support these workers, the companies that employ them, and the domestic aerospace supply chain they robustly reinforce.”

Many Machinists Union members working on the F-35 program are U.S. military veterans. Supporting the F-35 program means good jobs for veterans and their families. Machinists Union members are the most talented and experienced aerospace and defense workers in the world. 

The full letter can be found here.  

WebsiteF-35: Made with Pride by Machinists Union Members

NFFE-IAM WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS CALL FOR RESPECT ON CAPITOL HILL: Ahead of another intense wildfire season, roughly a dozen NFFE-IAM firefighters, who service government-owned land, forests and parks, spent this week in Washington, D.C. urging lawmakers to address critical concerns such as an urgent need for wage increases amid increasing costs of living, improved health and wellness coverage, and better working conditions.

“We need to make changes right now. That starts with a $20 per hour base minimum wage,” said NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin. “The President increased the minimum hourly rate to $15 last year, and for that we are grateful, but more work must be done.  Applications for employment are down 40% or more and we are losing experienced firefighters to state and local fire services.  It is becoming impossible to recruit and maintain the qualified workforce needed to address longer and more destructive fire seasons every year.  It’s putting more pressure on those who are working and they’re suffering, which is why are here in D.C.”

Robert Beckley, a NFFE-IAM National Vice President and Montana native who began fighting wildfires in 1975, says climate change has made the terrain more vulnerable to intense wildfires.  These fire are hot enough to effectively kill forests by ‘sterilizing’ the ground, preventing regeneration on swaths of land that cover 100,000 acres or more.  

“With climate change, with drought conditions, with insect infestation that damages trees, I’m noticing the lands are getting hotter and more trees are dying and rotting,” said Beckley. “That’s creating more fuel on the ground. When there’s a fire, it’s harder to control, it’s harder to put out and it demands more attention and more resources.”

An additional concern is seasonal NFFE-IAM firefighters, a significant portion of the workforce, many of whom have limited access to health insurance and are not eligible for government retirement. Retirement benefits for full-time firefighters, which require 20 years of service, does not cover seasonal NFFE-IAM members even if they worked 20 years of equivalent time simply because they are not full-time permanent employees.  

“The wildland firefighters are often on their own after they are injured,” Beckley continued.  “It is especially hard for seasonal firefighters who have no insurance or retirement to fall back on.  For seasonal and full-time firefighters, it’s the same hot, dirty, nasty job that takes its toll on a body and mind.”

NFFE-IAM says the visits in Washington, which included meetings with representatives from the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, were productive.

“This is a bipartisan issue. We’re ready to work with members on both sides of the aisle to get things done this year,” said Erwin. “Every office that we visited understood our needs. Now it’s important for them to push legislation and get firefighters and our national landscape the help they need.”   

REPS. GOLDEN, PINGREE REQUEST MEETING WITH NAVY TO DISCUSS ANTI-UNION RETALIATION ALLEGATIONS AT PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD: U.S. Reps. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) recently sent a letter to the U.S. Navy leaders raising significant concern regarding allegations of retaliatory behavior against Machinists Union members employed with Melgar Facility Maintenance LLC (Melgar) at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY).

“We have received reports that Navy civilian personnel have worked to circumvent the disciplinary process set forth in IAMAW’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to retaliate against specific union members for whom they have personal animus,” reads the letter. “As strong supporters of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the dedicated men and women employed there, we find these reports deeply troubling.”

“Our union fought hard to put in a collective bargaining agreement that would shield our members from frivolous disciplinary actions due to personal vendettas from management,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “I want to thank Reps. Golden and Pingree for speaking out on behalf of our dedicated members at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. IAM members are proud of the work they provide the U.S. Navy and deserve to work in an environment where respect towards each other is a part of the work culture.”

Golden and Pingree requested a meeting between Navy representatives and their staff in the coming weeks to outline their concerns fully.

Read the complete letter here.

NEW YORK CASCADES WORKERS, MACHINISTS UNION WIN LONG BATTLE TO VOTE ON, RATIFY FIRST CONTRACT: More than 100 workers at the Cascades Containerboard facility in Niagara Falls, N.Y. have overwhelmingly ratified a strong first collective bargaining agreement.

The facility’s group of more than 100 workers voted to join the Machinists Union in April 2019 and have been attempting to bargain for a fair contract for nearly three years. Cascades Containerboard, a Canadian-owned company, failed to listen to U.S. lawmakers, labor leaders, or their workers as they called on the company to bargain a fair contract.

The IAM Legislative and Political Department played a vital role in helping achieve this victory. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote a letter urging  Canada-based Cascades, Inc. to negotiate in good faith with more than 100 of its Niagara Falls, N.Y. employees who voted to join the Machinists Union in April 2019.

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) also wrote to Cascades President Charles Malo, urging the company to “negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement expeditiously.”

READ: It took 3 years, but Cascades workers in Niagara Falls ratify the first contract | The Buffalo (N.Y.) News

“I could not be more proud of these members for their solidarity, courage, and dedication to get the first contract for each other,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “This has been a long time coming, and there aren’t many groups that could continue to display the solidarity and patience these members have. The longer the process has gone on, the more resolve these members have shown. I want to thank IAM Canadian General Vice President David Chartrand and his staff for their work putting pressure on this Québec-based manufacturer, helping us achieve this long-awaited victory.”  

“While there is good news for these members today, that doesn’t take away the fact they have faced union-busting tactics for nearly three years while the company refused to bargain with their employees,” continued Bryant. “We need to strengthen U.S. labor laws to hold corporations accountable and create an economy that works for working people.”

WATCH: Cascades Containerboard Workers Demand Contract

“I am so proud of this group and the solidarity and patience they have shown over the past few years,” said IAM District 65 Directing Business Representative Ron Warner. “They have handled all the union-busting tactics with professionalism and strength. Their determination and resolve is something for the labor history books.”

“Our members at Cascades are the major reason for the company’s success. They earned and fought for the right to vote on a fair first contract,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “This opportunity will give these dedicated individuals a voice in the workplace. I commend them for their focus in obtaining a contract that will make life better for their families and the Niagara Falls community.”

The Canadian Territory is thankful that our Brothers and Sisters at Cascades in New York were able to secure a first contract,” said IAM Canadian General Vice President David Chartrand. “The IAM stood strong across the borders because all workers deserve respect and fairness. That’s what a team does—when you hurt one, you hurt all. We hope that this struggle is behind us, and we can move forward toward creating a better workplace.”

TCU/IAM JOINS RAILROAD DAY ON CAPITOL HILL: TCU/IAM representatives participated in virtual Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. The annual joint lobby day with other unions and industry representatives helps promote the freight rail industry. TCU/IAM reps attended over 50 meetings with House and Senate offices. Issues included supply chain issues, the infrastructure bill, workforce & equipment shortages, economic regulation, and the importance of keeping bigger and heavier trucks off the road.    

NFFE-IAM TESTIFIED IN SENATE TO WARN AGAINST DARK MONEY APPOINTEE: National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) Executive Director Steve Lenkart testified in the Senate Government Operations Subcommittee regarding the relationship between OPM and federal chief human capital officers, and the dangers of dark money political appointees in government.  In his testimony, Lenkart recommended that more management and scrutiny of political appointees is required given the influx of dangerous dark money appointees with secret agendas during the last administration.

IAM AND NFFE-IAM STOP FAA CENTER REORGANIZATION: IAM and NFFE-IAM members are safe from an attempt to reorganize the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in New Jersey.  The reorganization would have broken the premier research center into three parts, and relocated most of the work to other places.  The break up would have decentralized research and safety testing, potentially giving private industry and the airlines more influence over those inherently governmental processes.  IAM and NFFE-IAM teamed up with the New Jersey Delegation with Aviation Subcommittee Member Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) leading the effort to halt any further unauthorized reorganization efforts through supporting langue in the 2022 Omnibus appropriations bill.

FEDERAL JOB CORPS CENTERS SOLIDIFIED IN OMNIBUS LAW: NFFE-IAM requested and lobbied for fortifying language that keeps the federal Job Corps centers open and funded.  All federal Job Corps centers ran by NFFE-IAM Forest Service employees were scheduled for closure during the Trump administration. NFFE-IAM won that battle after an intense media and legislative campaign, and the language in the 2022 omnibus law further solidifies that victory.  The provision also keeps the job Corp operating agreement between DOL and USDA intact, which was threatened during Trump.

AS INTALCO RESTART ADVANCES, BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION IS LAST REMAINING HURDLE TO RESTOR 700 UNION JOBS AND REOPEN INTALCO WORKS: The IAM released the following statement about its efforts, working with the State of Washingtonformer members of management, and Blue Wolf Capital Partners, to reopen and modernize the Intalco Works

“We are pleased to hear that Blue Wolf Capital Partners now has the opportunity to buy Intalco from Alcoa and restart it. 

“We are concerned, however, that the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which provided Intalco electricity for over 50 years, hasn’t agreed to restore the power agreement that Intalco needs to restart. On behalf of the more than 700 workers and their families who lost their jobs when Intalco closed, we call upon BPA to restore its 50-year-partnership with the power purchase agreement Intalco needs to reopen the facility and restore those union jobs this year.

“A reopened and modernized Intalco will be one of only two green aluminum smelters in the United States. With a BPA agreement, Intalco will use clean energy and modernized technology to cut greenhouse gases by about 750,000 tons per year and particulates by more than 50 percent. 

“Furthermore, by providing a reliable U.S. supply of green aluminum, it will reduce imports from China, the Middle East and Russia that don’t use clean energy. At full production, Intalco can replace coal-based aluminum and reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 4 million tons CO2e each year.

Intalco Works started more than 50 years ago, but in recent decades, subsidized foreign suppliers have largely displaced U.S. aluminum producers. Today, most of the world’s primary aluminum production moving to areas such as China, Russia, and the Middle East, which rely on high carbon energy including coal or other fossil fuels. Domestically produced aluminum is needed to meet any realistic carbon reduction goals, given it is essential to manufacturing electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines.

“With its reopening, Intalco will be the only operational aluminum smelter in the western U.S. and one of only two green aluminum producers in the entire U.S.”

MACHINISTS UNION SUPPORTS MARYLAND LEGISLATION GIVING PUBLIC LIBRARY WORKERS STATEWIDE THE FREEDOM TO COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN: The IAM, which recently organized Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) employees, is supporting legislation that would extend the right to collectively bargain to all public library employees in Maryland.

On the heels of the successful BCPL campaign, the IAM has been working with Harford County Public Library employees to obtain a voice at work through joining a union. In response, Del. Steven Johnson (D-34a) introduced the Harford County Library Employees Collective Bargaining Authorization Bill (H.B. 1225).

An amendment to H.B. 1225, also introduced by Del. Steven Johnson, would extend the right to collectively bargain to all state public library employees. Since libraries in Maryland are created by state law, state legislation had to be drafted and passed for library workers to be able to form a union with the ability to negotiate a contract addressing their wages and working conditions. 

“There’s no reason to waste taxpayer money by coming back to this issue every few years, for every county in the state,” said Del. Steven Johnson. “Every library worker should have a pathway to exercise their constitutional right to join a union if they so choose.”

“This is about the freedom to have a voice and a vote on the job. House Bill 1225 is the first step on a path to ensure the voice of these workers is being recognized. The workers love the library system and want to see it thrive and grow, especially with so many residents saying the institution is the best service their tax money provides,” said IAM Grand Lodge Representative Bridget Fitzgerald. “This amendment not only takes care of library employees in Harford County, but also every dedicated public servant who works in a public library across the state, and every person who frequents their local library.”

“Libraries are the vaults that hold the histories of our communities,” said IAM Organizing Director Vinny Addeo. “They are a gateway to knowledge and culture, with library staff often guiding access to that information. House Bill 1225 makes sure the voices of these information gatekeepers are recognized.”

A group of nearly 460 Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) full and part-time employees across the county’s 19 branches recently voted in favor of joining the IAM. They are currently in negotiations with BCPL management.  

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ONE-YEAR LATER: The American Rescue Plan delivered much-needed relief to the IAM membership and working Americans last year. 

How the American Rescue Plan helped IAM members and our families:

  • $1,400 Direct Payments:   Individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 received the full direct payments of $1,400 per person. Individuals will also receive an additional $1,400 payment for each dependent claimed on their tax returns. No payment will be sent to single filers earning more than $80,000 or joint filers earning more than $160,000.
  • Multiemployer Pensions: Included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act. This long-overdue pension relief legislation provided $86 Billion in relief to troubled multiemployer pension plans with NO CUTS to earned benefits. The legislation protected the integrity of healthy multiemployer plans, save the PBGC and strengthen the pension system overall. The legislation contained NO provisions to harm healthy plans, does not include the GROW Act, and only has a modest increase in premiums from $31 to $52 starting in 2031.
  • Airline Jobs: Provided $15 billion to extend the airline Payroll Support Program (PSP) through September 30, 2021 which helped airlines and contractors avert mass layoffs and furloughs due to the unprecedented drop in business.
  • Aviation Manufacturing Workforce: The package included the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act which provided $3 billion to help employers keep aerospace manufacturing workers on their payrolls, avoid additional furloughs, and re-hire workers previously furloughed during the pandemic.
  • Amtrak: This bill provided $1.7 billion to Amtrak to keep rail service running across the nation, to rehire 1,230 workers who have been involuntarily furloughed as a result of COVID, and to restore full long-distance service to remote communities.
  • Public Transit: The package provided $30.4 billion of additional relief funding to transit agencies to prevent layoffs of transit workers and prevent severe cuts to transit services that essential workers and the general public rely on.
  • Expand Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit: This bill also included an expansion of two of the most effective anti-poverty tools the U.S. government has: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).
  • Defense Production Act for PPE: Provided $10 billion to expand domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccines, and other medical supplies.
  • Veterans: The bill provided funding to waive copays for veterans during the pandemic, and to provide health care services and support to veterans, including COVID-19 vaccine distribution, expanded mental health care, and enhanced telehealth capabilities. It also establishes a new program to provide retraining assistance for veterans who have lost their jobs due to COVID, and includes funding for VA to mitigate the pandemic’s impacts on the benefits claims and appeals backlog. 
  • Expanded PPP Eligibility: This bill expanded Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to include additional nonprofits such as 501(c)(5) labor and agricultural organizations providing $7 billion for that purpose.

IAM Legislative Advocacy Saves Hundreds of Missouri Local 778 Ammunition Production Jobs:The Machinists Union scored a huge legislative win for IAM Local 778 Members at the Olin-Winchester Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP) in Independence, MO. Proposed budget cuts, now cancelled due to the IAM’s advocacy, would have had a devastating impact on the 1,700 workers at the facility. 
The fiscal year 2022 budget unwisely included a 30 to 50 percent reduction in these munitions compared to 2021.

At the time, IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. sent a letter to U.S. House and Senate appropriators, urging them to reject the effort to cut funding for U.S. Army ammunitions, and asking them to restore adequate funding for the procurement of small caliber ammunition for the U.S. Army.

“The IAM’s victory ensures that our military will continue to have access to quality ammunition,” said IAM Local 778 Directing Business Representative Joe Capra. “Our highly skilled members take great pride in their work to make the finest ammunition in the world.”

“Our members can be assured that the IAM is fighting for their jobs at every level,” said IAMMidwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “This was a tremendous effort on everyone’s part.”

“This crucial funding secures the work of our members,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “My thanks go to all involved, especially our Political and Legislative Department, whose efforts made a huge difference.” 

The Independence facility manufactures the Army’s 5.56 mm, 7.62 mm and .50-caliber rifle ammunition.

SENATOR WARREN AND REPRESENTATIVE NORCROSS VOICE THEIR SUPPORT FOR LOCAL 447 MACHINISTS: 30 Local Lodge 447 Machinists members at Cummins, who have been on strike for four weeks fighting for a fair contract, held a rally this week to spotlight the company’s retrogressive contract demands. The rally drew heavy support from the local community and other union affiliates.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voices her support for Local 447 Machinists

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) voices his support for Local 447 Machinists

“We are here because this company has forgotten how it became successful,” said IAM District 15 Assistant Directing Business Representative Mike Vartabedian. “Even though they made billions of dollars in profit last year, they don’t want to provide wage increases to the people who helped build the company. These Machinists keep the generators working at hospitals and nursing homes. In short, they are the people who fix the engines that drive our economy and support our frontline and emergency workers. They are on strike only because the company doesn’t want guaranteed wages increases going forward. They have the full support of the Machinists Union and the labor movement behind them.”

“Local 447 members continue to inspire Machinists and the labor movement with their fortitude and resolve in their fight for a fair and just contract at Cummins,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “With each passing day, they become stronger and more united. All Machinists will continue to fight with them until they are treated fairly by the company.”

WATCH: View One Day Longer, One Day Stronger video of the rally here.

Georgia Machinists Gather at State Council Meeting: Georgia is going to be an important state in the upcoming political season. The Georgia State Council of Machinists is making sure the candidates running are good for labor, and will fight and protect the best interests of workers and their families in the Peach State.

WATCH: Georgia State Council of Machinists

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