iMail for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mississippi Shipyard Strike Ends

More than 6,000 members of 15 unions at the Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi voted by a 3 to 2 margin this week to ratify a new agreement with Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, ending a strike at the shipyard that began on March 8th.

The settlement includes an immediate 9.2 percent pay raise, the largest in the company’s history, followed by annual increases of three percent and three percent over the next two years. The three-year accord also boosts shift premiums from 60 to 80 cents per hour and includes Cost of Living allowances in the second and third year to address the prices for goods and services in the Gulf Coast’s volatile post-Katrina economy.

“The aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita may not be an issue in the rest of the country, but they are a daily fact of life for residents of the Gulf Coast,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “The workers at Ingalls, who did such a superb job getting the yard up and running after the storms hit, are still facing higher prices for housing, fuel and food. Their achievements in the face of adversity are an inspiration to IAM members everywhere. ”

The Ingalls Yard was shut down following an overwhelming vote by members of the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council (PMTC). The council includes members of Machinists, Plumbers, Sheet Metal Workers, Electrical Workers and seven other unions. Four independent bargaining units at the yard, including a separate group of Machinists, also took part in the strike.

“The level of community support during this strike was remarkable,” said District 73 DBR Benny Wallace. “Businesses donated food and family members walked picket lines with the same determination as the striking workers. It was the kind of solidarity that made you proud to be part of it.”

GVP Ritchie Meets with Canadian Prime Minister

During a recent meeting in Ottawa with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Ministers of Labour, Finance and Industry, Canadian GVP Dave Ritchie urged Harper to immediately implement a ‘Buy Canadian’ procurement policy. “If the government would tie such a policy to all and any federally-funded municipal or provincial infrastructure investments, it would have an immediate impact on our manufacturing sector,” said Ritchie.

Ritchie was a member of a delegation of union leaders representing workers from the country’s slumping manufacturing and resource-processing sector. The delegation, led by Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti, went to the meeting looking for signs of a plan to address the loss of nearly 250,000 manufacturing jobs in Canada.

“Right now there is no plan in place and our manufacturing sector needs a boost immediately,” said Ritchie. “The Prime Minister didn’t reject the idea; he said he would look into it, so it’s fair to say this won’t happen overnight.”

Seizing the opportunity, Ritchie also voiced disdain over the massive layoffs of heavy maintenance personnel by Air Canada and its plans to move more of those jobs to offshore low-cost providers. “Fiscal policy has allowed a once-great company to be systematically broken up and sold off in small pieces along with valuable highly-skilled, well-paying Canadian jobs,” Ritchie said.

“If the government allows this trend to continue, we’ll end up becoming sub-contractors to our own jobs.” Harper acknowledged the issue is on their radar, but made no commitment to act on it.

New Accord for New York Train Makers

Members of Local 2741 in Hornell, NY, ratified a new agreement recently with railcar manufacturer Alstom, calling for a 12 percent wage increase over the life of the three-year contract.

The more than 600 craft workers also agreed to improvements in vacation and how time off is allotted. Health insurance coverage, a key benefit, will remain unchanged.

“We stayed with the status quo,” Local 2741 Division Steward Kenneth Forrester told The Evening Tribune. Speaking for local President Michael Inman and District 19 General Chairperson Fred Nalley, Forrester said, “We have a very good health insurance plan here and have stayed with that.”

Alstom workers in Hornell manufacture and remanufacture rapid transit cars, passenger diesel-electric locomotives, commuter and intercity coaches and high speed trains.

IAM Member Wins Citation for Honesty

When Cherri Magiani of Long Beach, CA, answered her door recently, she found her city trash collector Howard Brooks standing there with a hand full of money. Brooks, a five year member of Local 1930, handed the money to Magiani, tellling her he found it next to her trash receptacle as he was doing his morning route. 

Surprised and extremely grateful for the return of money she lost while taking out her trash that morning, she called Gerrie Schipske – 5th District Councilwoman – City of Long Beach, to tell her the story.

“She called my office to let me know how much she appreciated that gesture, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to publicly acknowledge this good deed,” said Councilwoman Schipske. 

As a result of the phone call, Mr. Brooks was awarded a certificate of recognition from the city, lauding his character and honesty.

Chris Miller, President of Local 1930, who attended the ceremony where Howard received his certificate said, “We are extremely proud of Howard Brooks, and want to thank him for the way he represents us, and all his co-workers.  There are many, many people out, working for this city, who do the right thing every day.  We are also grateful that Ms. Magiani took time out of her life to write and call and thank the man who was responsible.  We are here today, celebrating an act of high principles; Howard stopped and did what was right.”

Howard Brooks, as you might have expected, was very humble about all the attention; ”I would like to say thank you.  It’s important to be positive.”

Gary Schmidt joins Midwest Territory Staff

IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber would like to announce the appointment of Gary Schmidt to the position of Special Representative effective April 1, 2007.

Gary will be the board agent for the Midwest Territory and will be assigned to the Midwest office in Naperville, IL.

Prior to his appointment to the Midwest Territory staff, Schmidt was the Directing Business Rep of IAM District 77 in St. Paul, MN from 2002 to 2007.  He held the position of Assistant Directing Business Representative from 1998 to 2002 and was elected Business Representative in 1990.

At IAM District 77, Gary served as Director of the GCM Credit Union, Apprenticeship Coordinator and Trustee on the St. Paul Auto Dealers and District 77 Health and Welfare Fund.

Schmidt was Vice President of the Minnesota State Council of Machinists and a delegate to the St. Paul Trades and Labor Council.

In addition, Gary served as Vice President of Local 459. He joined IAM Local 459 in 1971 while working at American Hoist and Derrick.  He served an apprenticeship there and became a journeyman machinist.  In 1985, he moved to Metropolitan Waste Water Services as a repair machinist.

Date set for 7th Annual Midwest “Hawgs for Dogs”

The Midwest Territory will hold its 7th Annual Midwest “Hawgs for Dogs” Run on Saturday, June 9, 2007. Registration will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the Wilwerts Harley-Davidson located at 145 N. Crescent Ridge in Dubuque, Iowa.  Following the run, a dinner and party with drawings for cash and prizes will be held for all participants and attendees.  All pledges collected from the run will be given to the Guide Dogs of America (GDA).

Participants must collect a minimum of $100 in pledges to partake in the run and be eligible for prizes.  Family and friends are welcome to celebrate with us at the dinner and party following the run.

Ask your employers for donations or products that we can use as prizes for raffles.  The Guide Dogs of America is a charitable organization, and is tax deductible.  All contributors will be recognized with a special thank you.

If you have any questions about this special event, contact Russ Wittkop at (630) 842-4970 or