iMail for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Northwest Apologizes for Insulting Employees

As if losing your job wasn’t bad enough, Northwest Airlines added salt to the wounds of IAM members facing furlough by handing about 60 employees a booklet containing an inconsiderate list of ideas on how to save money while they’re out of work.

The list entitled, “101 Ways to Save Money”, suggests laid-off employees ask friends and family for hand-me-down clothes and toys for their kids, shop at thrift stores and consignment shops (or “borrow a dress for a big night out”), move somewhere else to live, make their own baby food and coffee, ask their doctor for samples of prescriptions, and #46 on the list, “Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”

Following a public admonishment from the Machinists Union, Northwest apologized for their offensive tips.

“Northwest CEO Doug Steenland has apologized to the IAM for the company’s poor judgment,” said GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “They are also contacting everyone who received the offending booklet to offer personal apologies. The IAM leadership will hold Northwest to their commitment that a blunder like this will never happen again. ”

Northwest did not prepare the booklet, but instead subcontracted the work to a Wisconsin firm. “These are the type of screw-ups that occur when you outsource work,” said Roach. 

District 190 Organizing Drive Leads to First Contract

District Lodge 190 in Oakland, CA successfully concluded negotiations on a first contract for ten new members at Hedricks Collision Center near Fresno, CA.

“This contract is the culmination of an organizing drive that began the day after the IAM National Staff Conference in Denver,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “Going from the start of an organizing drive to delivering a quality first contract in just two months is extraordinary work. Congratulations to District 190 Directing Business Representative Jim Beno, Business Representative Thomas Rotella and everyone involved.”

The new agreement delivers wages of $21.50 per hour, medical coverage, the IAM National Pension Plan, eight holidays, up to three-weeks vacation, dues deductions and union security.

“The workers belief in the IAM and in themselves is what led us to this point,” said BR Rotella. “This is a great group, and I’m proud that my IAM training and the backing of District 190 and the Western Territory gave me all I needed to see this through.”

Wal-Mart Stumping for Corporate-Friendly Republicans

Looking to ensure Republicans continue to look out for their best interests, corporate giant Wal-Mart is mailing 18,000 “voter guides” to its employees in Iowa, which holds the first presidential primary in 2008. The guide attacks a number of potential Democratic candidates for president who continue to support groups that oppose Wal-Mart’s everyday low wages and dismal treatment of their employees.

The guide singles out Governors Bill Richardson (NM) and Tom Vilsack (IA), Senator Evan Bayh (IN) and former Senator Joe Biden (DE), who are traveling the country to educate elected officials about how Wal-Mart’s low wages, poor benefits and questionable treatment of its employees damage entire communities.

Wal-Mart’s disregard for their employees continues to come at the cost of working families. Each Wal-Mart store employing 200 people costs taxpayers approximately $420,750 annually in public social services used by Wal-Mart workers whose low wages and unaffordable health insurance mean most of them are among the working poor.

Machinists At Freightliner Win Retraining Benefits

Laid off Machinists at Freightliner LLC in Portland recently won government retraining benefits after Machinists District Lodge 24 representative Joe Kear petitioned the U.S. Department of Labor to certify that a trade-related lay-off had occurred.

Shortly after 130 Machinists were laid off at the truck manufacturing plant three days before Christmas 2005, workers saw work moving to a Freightliner plant in Santiago Tianguistenco, an industrial park near Mexico City, Mexico.

Although all workers who were laid off have since returned to work, the Labor Department certification means that workers are entitled to benefits for any layoffs that occur up to two years after certification — through April 6, 2008.

If layoffs occur again, workers would get a number of retraining benefits with no delay. Benefits include job counseling, up to two years of unemployment insurance benefits, a health care tax credit that pays two-thirds the cost of COBRA health insurance, a moving allowance if the worker needs to relocate to get a job and up to $20,000 to pay for school or up to $ 10,000 in wage subsidy to employers willing to do on-the-job training.


Vancouver Machinists Set to Strike at Vancouver Airport

With a 98 percent strike vote, IAM Local Lodge 16 members are ready to strike at Vancouver International Airport due to the employer’s unwillingness to bargain for a first contract.

“If the employer continues to evade bargaining, all 250 members of IAMAW Local Lodge 16 are prepared to go on strike,” said Mike Clegg, District Lodge 140 General Chair. “We’ve been trying to bargain for the better part of 12 months, but have seen no willingness from Securiguard Services Inc. that they are ready to meet with us,” he said.
Local Lodge 16 members provide security services around the perimeter of the airport, which includes checking suspicious packaged items and validating the identity of airport personnel to prevent any non-employee intrusions.

The IAM applied for certification for the 250 workers in April 2005. The company fought the process tooth and nail until the workers were granted representation in March 2006. The same has held true for the bargaining process.

Issues being brought forward by the Union are scheduling, working conditions, shift preferences and favoritism – the same issues which caused the workers to seek a union.

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