iMail for Thursday, April 03, 2008

Machinists Slam Obama Tanker Comments

“Senator Barack Obama just walked away from another fight for American jobs,” declared IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, after the Illinois Democrat failed to speak up for U.S. workers affected by the refueling tanker scandal. “This is becoming his trademark, but never before has he done so with 44,000 American jobs at stake.”

At a town meeting in Wilkes Barre, PA, this week, Senator Obama suggested the Air Force’s decision on the tanker deal was justified if it turns out the Airbus bid was 10-15 percent better than Boeing’s.

“He just doesn’t get it,” said Buffenbarger. “For him to equivocate on this issue is a complete embarrassment. But for him to take a neutral position in the fight to protect 44,000 American jobs just shows he’s no friend of blue collar workers.

“Maybe Senator Obama doesn’t mind the Pentagon procuring from other countries, but I sure as hell do,” said Buffenbarger. “What’s at stake is America’s manufacturing sector. What’s at stake is billions in American taxpayer dollars being used to create jobs overseas.”

Milwaukee Local Reaches Tentative Pact with Harley-Davidson

IAM negotiators for 150 members of Local 78 in Milwaukee, WI, announced this week they reached a tentative agreement with Harley-Davidson Motor Company on a new four-year contract. Members will vote April 4 on the accord, which is unanimously recommended by the union bargaining committee.

Harley-Davidson also reached tentative agreements with members of the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents 2,100 members at two locals in Milwaukee and Tomahawk, WI. Both unions extended their current labor agreements, which expired March 31, 2008, through April 4 to accommodate ratification voting.

IAM Welcomes IG Metall President

IAM President Tom Buffenbarger welcomed the President of the German Metal Workers’ Union, IG Metall, Berthold Huber, to IAM headquarters this week, as part of the two unions’ ongoing effort to deal with globalization.

“The IAM and IG Metall will continue to develop innovative strategies for representing our members throughout North America and Germany,” said Buffenbarger.
The two presidents discussed the many challenges each union faces in the growing global economy. They also reaffirmed their commitment to work together as outlined in the IAM-IG Metall historical Alliance signed in 2003.

“Unions worldwide need to join forces in order to live up to the challenges of globalization,” said IG Metall President Huber. “The Alliance between the IAM and IG Metall precisely accomplishes this task.”

Sheila Hammond Named IAM ‘Sister of the Month’

The IAM Women’s Department has named Sheila Hammond of Local Lodge 2339H in Houston, TX, as Sister of the Month for April. Hammond first became active in the labor movement in 1968 when she began her in-flight career with Trans Texas Airlines (later renamed Texas International). Within a year, she was serving on several union committees and in 1970 won her first elected office. In 1982, Texas International merged with Continental Airlines, which ultimately brought Hammond to the IAM.

As a member of the IAM, Hammond has served as President of the Local and participated in numerous contract negotiations and grievance processes over the years, always doing her best to protect the interests of her union sisters and brothers. Additionally, she has given authoritative testimony before the National Mediation Board, the National Transportation Safety Board and lobbied both houses of Congress regarding issues important to flight attendants. As a breast cancer survivor, Hammond is a strong advocate for awareness and encouraging annual mammograms and monthly self-exams.

The IAM “Sister of the Month” is an effort to motivate women to become more involved in their union by recognizing their hard work and dedication. If you’d like to nominate someone, download the nomination form and submit it to the IAM Women’s Department.

Deadline Nears for 2008 IAM Legislative Conference

This year’s IAM Legislative Conference will be held May 19-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. Delegate registration begins on May 19 at 9:00 a.m. and again on May 20 from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

The conference will kick off on May 19 at 1:30 p.m. with opening remarks by Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, who will serve as permanent chairperson. IP Tom Buffenbarger will deliver the keynote address.

The general session will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon on May 20 and 21. There will be no afternoon sessions scheduled those days so that delegates may lobby on Capitol Hill. Call the hotel at 202-737-1234 to make your room reservations. Cut-off date for reduced room rates is April 11. For a copy of the official call letter, click here.

IAM Airline Districts Unveil Merger Survey

Although the IAM strongly opposes mergers among major airlines, some airline executives remain fixated on merging one or more U.S. carriers.
IAM Airline Districts have prepared a brief survey to give airline employees an opportunity to weigh in on potential mergers.

You can take the survey here, or from the Merger Pages on the Districts 141, 142 and 143 websites.

Cards Keep Coming in Canada Toyota Drive

The IAM campaign to organize workers at the Toyota Canada assembly plant in Cambridge, ON, is back on track and building momentum. “If anything, the temporary roadblock we encountered March 19 has stiffened the resolve of the workers here who want union representation,” explained District 140 Organizer Ian Morland.

The IAM had originally filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board for certification on March 13, 2008 but withdrew the application on March 19 after a bargaining unit employee list submitted by Toyota revealed the union may not have had enough signed membership cards. Armed with that revised employee list, the IAM has stepped up its efforts to sign more membership cards and those efforts are having an impact.

“The number of signed cards we have collected since March 19 is truly impressive and I’m confident we’ll soon have more than enough to re-file for a certification application before the end of April,” said Morland. “The workers here approached us for union representation and we want it known that we’re not backing down and we intend to honour that request.”