The world is a different place today. A new optimism, a new hopefulness and a new spirit courses through our land. The challenges we face seem less daunting; the obstacles in our path seem less formidable. And it is all because one man decided “Yes, we can!”
President-elect Barack Obama’s historic campaign reminded America that it had lost something very, very special: the can-do-anything spirit that has been our hallmark since the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. Re-igniting that drive and determination was what his remarkable candidacy was all about. And sixty-two million of his countrymen echoed his “Yes, we can!”
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers congratulates Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden on their decisive victory. It was – and is – a thrilling example of America’s can-do spirit.
IAM members from coast to coast delivered on their pledge to put boots on the ground and go all out to elect Barack Obama, Joe Biden and a long list of labor-friendly candidates. In the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, hundreds of IAM members knocked on thousands of doors and made untold phone calls to help channel voters’ anger and frustration in a worthy direction.
“For some, this election was the culmination of eight long years of hard work and determination to get this country back on the right track,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger.
“For others, it was the high water mark of a crusade for change that stretches back to the voter registration drives and civil rights marches of the 1960’s. For all of us, it is an opportunity to face the extraordinary challenges of a troubled world with new energy, new leadership and new ideas. On behalf of the entire IAM Executive Council, I want to say how very proud and grateful I am to every member who helped make this day and this dream possible.”
IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger announced today that Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson will retire on June 30, 2009, at the end of his current term.
“Lee Pearson has bee an invaluable member of the IAM Executive Council since 1992,” explained IP Buffenbarger. “And he has served the membership of the Western Territory with distinction throughout his tenure.
“With Lee Pearson’s retirement, an accomplished labor leader and a close, personal friend of mine will close the book on a spectacular career,” Buffenbarger added.
Lee Pearson’s IAM career spans four decades. He first joined Local Lodge 685 in San Diego in 1966 and held key leadership positions in his Local and District lodge. In 1978, he was elected as a Business Representative in District Lodge 50 and then was appointed Special Representative in 1981 and became a Grand Lodge Representative in 1986. He was re-elected Western Territory GVP in 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2005.
The IAM Executive Council will recommend to the membership that Gary Allen, Administrative Assistant to GVP Lee Pearson, be elected to fill the vacancy. Allen is a 29-year member of the IAM, and has served as the Western Territory AA since 2003.
As one of the IAM’s first Aerospace Coordinators, Allen made his mark developing the GrowCT campaign and negotiating with Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, General Electric and Rolls Royce. Allen joined Local Lodge 794, Albuquerque, NM in 1979 and was elected President and Directing Business Representative in 1984. He was appointed Special Representative in 1989 and Grand Lodge Representative in 1991.
“Gary Allen will begin to write a vibrant new chapter in IAM history,” said IP Buffenbarger. “His enormous energy and drive will be focused on growing our union in the 13 states that comprise the Western Territory.”
In a move that underscores China’s ambition to enter the aerospace market, now dominated by North American and European companies, General Electric (GE) this week placed a $750 million order with China’s Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (CACC). The GE order, for up to 25 regional-jet aircraft, is the first overseas order for CACC, and a coup for the company formed last year through the merger of China’s two state aircraft makers.
The appearance of a China-based aircraft manufacturing company with the desire to compete with established engine and airframe manufacturers like Boeing raises an important question: Where and how did China suddenly get the capability to manufacture a seemingly world class aircraft product? The answer lies within a complex web of joint ventures, state-supported financing, transfers of production and technology, and China’s national industrial policy.
“The significance of this development cannot be overstated,” warned IAM Trade and Globalization Director Owen Herrnstadt in recent testimony before the U.S. Economic and Security Review Commission. “China’s aviation industry is rapidly growing and poses a considerable threat to current producers and suppliers of large and regional commercial aircraft.”
Despite a recent surge in hiring, the North American-based aerospace industry continues to face growing global competition, some it made possible by its own doing.
“As other countries implement industrial policies based on outsourcing and offsets, the question if the North American aerospace industry can remain the world leader becomes more urgent,” said Herrnsatdt. “Moves by countries like China to implement industrial policies leading to the development of a strong and viable aircraft industry should give policy makers serious concern.”
Nearly 560 IAM members at Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) unit in Huntington Beach, Torrance, and Edwards Air Force Base, CA, have ratified a new 42-month contract with wage increases, COLA guarantees and a pension multiplier that was increased to $75 per month, per year of service.
The District 725 Negotiating Committee achieved a key victory when the company withdrew a proposal to bar new hires from the traditional defined benefit pension plan.
“Protecting the pay and benefits of new hires is every bit as important as improving the terms for long-term employees,” said Aerospace Coordinator Frank Santos, who congratulated the committee on their achievement. “Allowing any company to establish a second-class status for new hires is guaranteed to create dissent in the workplace and ultimately allows a company to play one group against the other.”
The contract also includes a $2,500 signing bonus and provides for continuation of 12 holidays per year while limiting employee’s medical insurance premium increases.
The IAM Women’s and Human Rights Department selected long-time Detroit Local 141 activist Sharon Caldwell to be the November Sister of the Month. Caldwell has been an IAM member for 23 years and served as a Vice President for District 143 and as an Airline General Chairperson.
The daughter of a 25-year veteran of the United Auto Workers (UAW) staff, Caldwell was raised to believe in union values. As a shop steward for 20 years, Caldwell also saw first hand the need to educate women more about their union and helped establish the Women’s Involvement Now (WIN) Committee at District 143.
Caldwell regularly urges fellow members to get more involved saying, “Keep moving forward; don’t get discouraged by the negativity.”
Caldwell believes that women are natural multi-taskers, but no one can do it alone. As a recently widowed mother of five children, she knows how important it is to be able to depend on your sisters. Finally, Caldwell advocates the mentoring of younger women by more experienced women, whose experiences are an invaluable and inspiring resource.