iMail for Thursday, April 02 2009

Minnesota Machinists Hold ‘Day of Action’ Rally 

Hundreds of IAM members were joined by elected officials and area union members in Bloomington, MN, for a rally to support what is likely to be the largest and most important union organizing drive in decades.

The “Day of Action” rally, organized by Local 1833, was part of the IAM’s nationwide fight to win bargaining rights for workers at Delta Airlines. The largely non-union Delta merged last year with highly unionized Northwest Airlines, setting the stage for an election to determine representation rights at the combined carrier.

The IAM, which represent more than 15,000 workers in seven classifications at Northwest, is conducting a massive education campaign to explain the National Mediation Board (NMB) election process, which requires 50 percent (plus one) of each combined classification to cast ballots. If less than 50 percent of each combined group casts ballots, no representative will be certified.

“It’s important to understand that this fight is a fight for every transportation union in America,” said IAM Transportation GVP Robert Roach.

U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken, U.S. Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), along with several state leaders and members of the Association of Flight Attendants, Minnesota AFL-CIO, and AFSCME were all on hand for the event. Wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Union Strong,” they pledged their support for the Machinists’ campaign.

 “We’re going to win this campaign,” declared IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger to those gathered at the event. “With your help, we’re going to get justice for working people.”

Rep. Ellison says winning representation for Delta employees is one more step in the rebuilding of the American middle class. “The American people are counting on us to restore their quality of life.”

Corporate ‘Compromise’ Would Gut Free Choice Act

A trio of well-known corporations are trying to derail the Employee Free Choice Act with their own watered down version of labor “reform.” The CEOs of Starbucks, Costco and Whole Foods are shopping the halls of Capitol Hill with a bill they claim is a “fair compromise” to the Employee Free Choice Act.

The companies are proposing that the system for joining a union stays as-is, with employers still being given ample time to harass and intimidate workers before an election and no guarantee of a first contract. The bill even goes one step further by making it easier for corporations to get rid of a union after workers vote to join one.

“The legislation being brought forward by Starbucks, Costco and Whole Foods is nothing more than an attempt to distract from what Employee Free Choice is really about,” says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Their proposal does absolutely nothing to level the playing field between workers and management. Under their plan, workers are no better off than they are now. They’ll still be subject to low wages, inadequate health care, and an uncertain retirement. Their ‘compromise’ is, frankly, useless.”

The Employee Free Choice Act does exactly what the title of the bill says it does: puts the power of choice into the hands of the employees – not companies. Employees, not companies, will be able to decide for themselves whether to join a union. CEOs will have to make room at the table when it comes time to talk wages and benefits.

Click here for more information on the Employee Free Choice Act and to send a letter to your legislator that it’s time to restore America’s middle class by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.

Labor Leader Named to Key Federal Agency

President Obama has nominated former pilot union leader and current aviation consultant Randy Babbitt is expected to head the Federal Aviation Administration. Babbitt served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilot union in the U.S.

“The IAM welcomes Randy Babbitt’s nomination as the new Administrator of the FAA,” says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “We are confident that under his leadership, the U.S. air transportation system will achieve greater efficiency and continue to set the world standard for aviation safety.”

If confirmed, Babbitt promises swift action to settle the two and a half year dispute between the FAA and its air-traffic controllers and to speed up the Administration’s transition to a new satellite-based air traffic control system dubbed NextGen.

IAM Sets Dates for 2009 Transportation Conference

The 2009 IAM North American Transportation Conference will take place at the Hilton New York in New York City from August 16-20, 2009.

“The Transportation Conference will again encompass a combined meeting of delegates and staff from the airline and railroad industries,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Everyone will participate in the general sessions of the Conference, and separate industry meetings will be conducted to discuss and act upon matters of special interest to each particular section.”

The Hilton New York has set aside a block of rooms with a guaranteed rate of $215.00 per day, plus tax, for single or double occupancy.  To make reservations, call the hotel directly at 1 800 HILTONS (1-800-445-8667), or book through a website the hotel has set up for the conference.

Remember to inform the hotel that you are attending the IAM North American Transportation Conference (Group Code IAM) in order to receive the special room rate. Reservations should be made no later than July 6, 2009, after which all reservation requests are subject to room availability.

Railroad Delegate Form 
Air Transport Delegate Form
Hotel Website

Enroll Soon for August EAP Class

The application deadline for the Employee Assistance Professional I class scheduled for August 9-14, 2009,  at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, Maryland is May 22, 2009. The EAP-I class for May 10-15 is closed for registration.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) training is offered through the IAM Community Services, EAP and Retirees Department. The EAP course trains union members to help fellow members who are facing drug or alcohol issues, debt problems or mental health issues.

“Our EAP program has helped many IAM members overcome issues that affect their jobs and families,” said Community Services, EAP and Retirees Director Maria Cordone. “Our EAP training can be a valuable resource for lodges throughout our union.”

Click here for a copy of the official call and an application form. For more information, contact the Community Services/EAP/Retirees Department at 301-967-3433.

Jobless Numbers Continue to Set Records

The number of new unemployment insurance claims, as well as the number of people still receiving unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

According to the department, the number of initial jobless claims rose to 669,000, compared to the previous week’s figure of 657,000. Analysts say the total was higher than expected, and continues to set the record as the highest in more than 26 years.

The number of laid-off workers claiming benefits for more than a week jumped from 5.57 million to 5.73 million. That figure was also more than what analysts expected, and sets a record for the 10th straight week.

The latest numbers come one day before the Labor Department is expected to release total unemployment numbers – which includes individuals not receiving benefits – for the month of March.

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