The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers lost a valiant friend and fierce ally. Edward M. Kennedy was a champion of working families during his 47-year career in the United States Senate. His fingerprints can be found on virtually every piece of legislation that became law involving health, education, labor, tax, budget and the armed forces.
For the Machinists Union, the seminal event in Ted Kennedy’s career was his 1980 presidential campaign. The IAM, under the leadership of International President Bill “Wimpy” Winpisinger, created hundreds of local “Draft Kennedy” committees in 1979; virtually every district directing business representative and local lodge president led that draft movement. When Senator Kennedy announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination, those draft committees became his community organizers. And when the campaign came up short in Iowa, “I AM for Kennedy” buttons blossomed across the land.
The IAM’s endorsement of Ted Kennedy meant enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. And it was those volunteers who manned the phones and handed out leaflets when the going got tough. Taking on a sitting President in his own party wasn’t easy, but there were thrilling moments: come-from-behind victories in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California in the final weeks, a narrow loss in Ohio on the final day of the primary season, a side-by-side battle on the Platform Committee, a rules fight on the convention floor, Kennedy’s sail against the wind speech followed by a walkout of labor delegates led by Wimpy.
The friendship forged in the heat of political battle lasted three decades. The IAM could always count on Senator Kennedy to do the right thing and Senator Kennedy could always count on the IAM. Always has, always will.
So, to honor the memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, I am asking each district and local lodge to conduct a silent tribute to him at their next union meeting. AND, during new business, I ask each district and local lodge to pledge to fight for the health care reform bill that will now carry his name.
R. Thomas Buffenbarger
After decades of non-enforcement, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has begun hiring new investigators to begin cracking down on employers who use illegal labor tactics.
The Wall Street Journal reports Secretary Solis will be adding 670 investigators to the rolls, including 150 in the Wage and Hour Division, 75 in the Employee Benefits Security Administration and 100 more to ensure contractor compliance on stimulus projects.
In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has formed a new task force to combat severe violators of workplace safety regulations.
The latest announcement comes just months after President Obama reversed and delayed a series of pro-business, anti-worker policies put in place by the Bush administration. One such rule, which inundated labor unions with tedious and unnecessary financial disclosures, is currently under review.
The Coalition of Labor Union Women’s (CLUW) 15th Biennial Convention will be held October 14-17, 2009, in Los Angeles, CA. This year’s theme is The Rising Tide of Change: Activism, Leadership – Union Women!
The agenda includes speakers, workshops and panel discussions aimed at promoting networking, information sharing and idea developing that will strengthen the labor movement and nurture the women union leaders of the future. The Machinists have always had the distinction of sending a large delegation to the CLUW Convention and would like to see that tradition continue, especially since elections for National Executive Board members will be held this year. In order to allow members to fully participate in the CLUW Convention, the IAM will not host a 2009 Women’s Conference.
Hotel reservations can be made by calling the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites at 1-800-WESTIN-1 (1-800-937-8461). A block of rooms have been reserved under the group name “Coalition of Labor Women/CLUW” at $145 for single or double occupancy. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis, and must be made by September 10, 2009, for the special room rate.
If you plan to attend, please complete the registration form, and return it along with a $200 registration fee to the IAM Women’s Department, 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, MD, 20772. The deadline for registration is September 4, 2009. Registrations received after that date will incur a $25 late fee.
Click here for the official call letter and registration forms.
David Lillie is a retired member of Local 933 in Tucson, AZ, where he remains active in local union affairs while keeping a close eye on state and national politics. In addition to recently challenging a decision by Raytheon to eliminate health care benefits for his fellow retirees, Lillie has also testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor about the severe personal hardships caused by Raytheon’s decision.
His latest turn at the microphone is a personal tribute in song to Sen. Edward Kennedy, who passed away this week after a year-long battle with brain cancer. Click here to see and hear a grassroots tribute to the lawmaker who could always be counted on to support workers and retirees in their fight for decent, affordable health care coverage.
Local 447 member Joe Goss was recently presented with keys to a brand new GMC Sierra 1500 pick-up truck as a winner of the Ryder Performance Challenge Program. The program is designed to reward outstanding maintenance employees and mechanics at Ryder. Participants can also earn cash payouts and raffle tickets that are automatically entered into a Grand Prize drawing.
In addition to being a prize-worthy employee, Goss is a dedicated IAM member as well. When his previous employer closed its doors, Goss immediately went to work organizing at Ryder, his new employer. “Joe Goss is a true unionist,” said District 15 Area Director Russ Gittlen. “He has been an asset in organizing other shops for the IAM, and is always willing to assist whenever and wherever he’s needed. We thank him for his commitment to helping grow the IAM and congratulate him on his recent challenge program award.”
The enrollment deadline for the IAM Communications Department’s Advanced Editors class held at the IAM William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center November 1-6, 2009 has been extended to September 4, 2009.
The Advanced Editors class is for experienced local and district lodge newsletter editors, web stewards or Communicators who have a strong record of producing newsletters, materials and other information for their lodges.
Click here to download the official call outlining class requirements and the registration forms. Completed forms can be faxed to the Communications Department at 301-967-4586.