iMail for Thursday, April 19, 2007

United in Sorrow and Grief

The heartbreaking sound of gunfire this week at Virginia Tech echoed closer to home when it was learned that an IAM member’s stepson was among the 32 students and teachers killed in the nation’s worst school shooting ever.

Ryan Clark, 22, a fourth-year Biology, English and Psychology major and stepson of IAM member Mae Clark, was the second student to be slain on April 16 when he came to the aide of fellow student Emily Hilscher. Mae Clark is a member of IAM Local 641 in Cleveland, NC, and employed at Auto Truck Transport in Mt. Holly, NC.

Among his talents and passions, Ryan “Stack” Clark played baritone in Virginia Tech’s marching band and worked summers as music director at a camp for physically and mentally disabled adults and children. “He was just one of the greatest people you could possibly know,” said friend Gregory Walton in the Detroit Free Press.

Police have identified a senior at Virginia Tech, Cho Seung Hui, as the gunman who moved from building to building, methodically executing students and teachers despite heroic efforts to stop him. One professor, Liviu Librescu, 76, a holocaust survivor, died trying to block a door while students escaped by jumping from windows.

“It is difficult to fully express the sadness and sorrow we feel for the victims and their families,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “On behalf of our officers, staff and members, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends, colleagues and classmates of those who perished at Virginia Tech.”

Help Our Federal Members – Tell Congress to Repeal NSPS

In 2004, Congress granted former Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Department of Defense (DoD) authority to establish a new human resources system and to modify certain labor relations provisions for federal employees under what is known as the National Security Personnel System (NSPS). Rumsfeld, however, misused that authority.

Contrary to what Congress intended, NSPS strips federal employees of their right to collectively bargain, eliminates any semblance of a fair appeals process, and shifts workers to a pay system that is entirely subjective.

Enough is enough! NSPS was so bad a federal judge ruled key parts of it illegal. Now Congress must finish the job: repeal NSPS and restore fairness and dignity to the federal workforce. It’s time that Congress stop NSPS and repeal the former Secretary’s ill-conceived reforms, which take much-needed resources away from our men and women in uniform as they defend our country.

Click to tell your Congressperson to repeal NSPS.

Click for a background on NSPS.

Aviation HS and Rail Seminar at WWW Center

Nearly two dozen students from New York’s prestigious Aviation High School (AHS) braved gale force winds and record rainfall to travel to the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center for the Transportation Department’s annual 3-day program about the realities of working in the air transportation industry.

The popular program, now in its 5th year and open only to AHS students with high grade point averages, examines career opportunities and discusses challenges facing employees in the dynamic and fast changing air transport arena.

Also at the WWW Center were Local Chairpersons from IAM and IAM-TCU rail locals for a week-long seminar to review organizing strategies, grievance handling and legislative issues unique to members working under the Railway Labor Act.

Strong Support for Union Proposals at UTC Meeting

The IAM turned out in force at the annual United Technologies Corp. (UTC) shareholder meeting in New York City to back a union-sponsored shareholder proposal seeking an advisory vote by shareholders on senior executive compensation practices.

UTC President and CEO David George is among the world’s most lavishly compensated chief executives, pocketing $27.1 million in compensation in 2006 alone. Additionally, during 2006, George exercised stock options that were awarded in previous years with a value of $28.3 million.

Among the union members and representatives stocking the annual shareholder meeting were nearly two dozen members from District 26 and Local 743 in Windsor, CT. Also attending for District 26 was LL1746A president Wayne McCarthy.

The resolution, which garnered support from a remarkable 38 percent of the shareholders casting ballots, was designed to allow shareholders a voice through an advisory vote on matters of executive compensation and pay practices. Investors in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, and the Netherlands already have the right to vote each year on executive pay reports. Shareholders holding stock in U.S.-based companies have filed more than 60 so-called “say on pay” resolutions this season that seek an annual advisory vote on the compensation received by senior executives.

IAM Pro-Street Bike Rolls into Thunder Beach

The IAM custom Pro-Street bike will be rolling into the Thunder Beach Spring Motorcycle Rally to be held May 3-6, 2007 in Panama City Beach, Florida. The bike was built through the efforts of the IAM, Celebrity Build TV and Guide Dogs of America (GDA) as a fundraiser for GDA. The unique bike is now on a nationwide tour to give the public an opportunity to see the spectacular bike in person.

If you plan to be one of the estima ted 65,000 attending the Thunder Beach Rally, the bike will be on display at the GDA booth at the Spinnaker Beach Club, 8795 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach. Stop by to check out this IAM-made bike and lend a hand to the folks manning the booth. Contact GDA rep Grace Cohan at 818-822-9274 or Steve Cohen at 818-822-6573 to volunteer.

This one-of-a-kind motorcycle will be raffled off at GDA’s annual banquet on November 17, 2007 (winner need not be present). Go to for more information on the bike and to see how it was built.

All proceeds from this fundraising effort will go directly to Guide Dogs of America for their mission to provide professionally-trained guide dogs to blind and visually-impaired individuals at no cost.

Boeing Members in St. Louis to Vote on Strike Authorization

District 837 members employed at Boeing in St. Louis, MO will vote April 22, 2007 on whether they’re ready and willing to strike in the event the final contract proposal is not accepted by the membership. The Strike Authorization Vote, as it is called, is required by the IAM Constitution. The current contract is set to expire May 20, 2007.

The vote is an important step in the negotiating process that began March 19, 2007, when Union negotiators began sub-committee meetings with Boeing representatives. Main-table negotiations are set to begin April 30, with a vote to accept or reject the proposal being held May 20.

“Our members have expressed a great displeasure with company proposals handed to the union up to this point,” said District 837 President and Directing Business Representative Rick Smith. “In addition to official notification purposes, this vote will serve notice to the Boeing Company that our members stand united with their elected officials and expect a fair and equitable contract offer.”

GOP to Seniors: Drop Dead

Senate Republicans denied many seniors the opportunity to have their prescription drug prices lowered this week when they blocked legislation that would have allowed the government to negotiate Medicare drug prices.

In a mostly party line vote, Senate lawmakers blocked debate on a bill that would have allowed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. Sixty votes were needed to move the bill forward.

“It’s time for Congress to put the needs of seniors first. Yet what did our Republican colleagues do today? They blocked us from debating a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate to get better drug prices,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA). “Time and again, the interests of the drug industry are put ahead of the interests of the elderly.”

House Democrats pushed through similar legislation in January as part of their 100 hour legislative blitz aimed at improving the lives of working families.