iMail for Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kansas Machinists Ratify Hawker Beechcraft Contract

Nearly 5,000 IAM members in Wichita and Salina, KS will return to work at Hawker Beechcraft after winning a new contract that increases pay by 4 percent each year, preserves health care benefits, raises pensions and ensures new hires are treated fairly. Members of Local 733 and 2328 voted today by a wide margin to ratify the new agreement reached on August 26.

“This contract was hammered out by negotiators and mediators, but it belongs fully to the members who demanded an agreement that would take them forward, not backward,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge. “Hawker Beechcraft is a successful company with a bright future. These workers plainly want to be a part of that future.”

The ratification ends a strike that began on August 4 and was the first work stoppage at the plane maker since 1984. Members voted by a ninety percent to reject the company’s initial three-year offer. Eighty-nine percent voted to authorize the strike.

“The solidarity of this unit was remarkable,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, who joined members on the picket lines in Wichita. “They knew exactly why they were out there; for themselves, their families and their co-workers, but also for the next generation of workers. Their example will inspire IAM members across North America for many years to come.”

The membership at Hawker Beechcraft was kept informed throughout the strike by a combination of website updates, worker blogs, issue flyers and a coordinated outreach to local and national media.

“The IAM negotiating committee at Hawker Beechcraft had the benefit of significant experience and resources from every level of this union,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, who also joined picketers during the 29-day strike. “But it was the workers themselves in Wichita and Salina who stuck together and ensured a successful conclusion.”

What to Remember this Labor Day

The following is a Labor Day 2008 message from International President Tom Buffenbarger.

This Labor Day is a worthy occasion to remember Labor’s friends and Labor’s foes.

Labor’s friends would never think of crossing a picket line. They worry when they hear about factories closing and jobs being shipped overseas. They get angry when they hear about roads, bridges and buildings falling into disrepair. They are the men and women who built this country and feel a keen and personal responsibility for its well being.

There will be great speeches this Labor Day. There will be moments of silence for those who gave their lives, and much praise for the accomplishments, the sacrifices and the basic value of work and working people.
On this Labor Day, there will be picnics and parades, barbecues and baseball, rest and recreation. The nation will pause to honor the builders and the bakers, the movers and shakers, the plumbers, policemen, machinists and music makers.

We must also remember the public figures and elected officials who stood with Labor on the picket lines, at the bargaining tables and in the congressional hearing rooms where laws are fashioned that can give so much or take so much away.

It is there too we find Labor’s foes. They toil on behalf of countries and corporations with no allegiance to work or workers, only to greater profits, quicker profits and greater access to more of the same.

They too will relax from their efforts on Labor Day. They will consume good food and fine wine and gather strength for their next assault on workers’ health care, workers’ pensions, workers’ rights and even workers’ lives.

They may even find time to pray, that the upcoming election does not change the advantage they have enjoyed for the past eight years. They have good reason to worry.

This year, on Election Day, we can not only remember Labor’s friends and Labor’s foes, we can reward them both accordingly. It is an opportunity too good to miss.

Illinois Rep. Foster Visits IAM Midwest Territory

What happens when you work hard to educate IAM members on issues important to working families and then get them out to vote?  They vote for candidates who care about workers and that are willing to fight for us.

One of those candidates visited the IAM Midwest Territory office this past week.  Congressman Bill Foster won a special election this spring in the Illinois 14th CD and will now run for a full term in the upcoming elections.

“During Congressman Foster’s visit, we were able to share our members’ thoughts and concerns on the Employee Free Choice Act, creating jobs in this country, protecting pensions, the importance of quality affordable health care and full funding for Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory,” said IAM Midwest Territory GVP Philip J. Gruber.  “It was refreshing and an honor to have this type of discussion with a Congressman that really gets it and supports our issues. We’ll do everything possible to see that good people like Bill Foster get re-elected.”

Ontario Machinists Ratify Smarte Carte Deal

Members of Lodge 2913 in Mississauga, Ontario, who provide and maintain baggage carts at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year collective agreement with Smarte Carte Canada Incorporated.

The new agreement provides each member with a $500 signing bonus, wage increases throughout the life of the agreement, company-paid benefits and the inclusion of new work classifications.

“These negotiations began in February and required a conciliator during the process,” explained District 140 Regional Assistant Directing Chairperson Chuck Atkinson. “The company really pushed the envelope when they attempted to bring in replacement workers on the day of our last conciliation meeting. But the bargaining team led by Essa Abdi and Ali Wasuge held firm with their demands and backed by the unwavering support of the membership, we were able to make significant gains.”

Working America Names Worst Boss of the Year

Online voters in Working America’s third annual My Bad Boss Contest have named an ambulance company owner who forced “Thunderstruck”, a dispatcher, to ride in a decrepit ambulance where he was sometimes paired with ex-cons and an employee with a reputation for divulging extremely personal details of her marital life as the worst boss of the year.

As the Grand Prize winner, Thunderstruck, who has since moved to a more rewarding job, will get a vacation with one week’s free stay in one of more than 50 countries and money towards airfare and other expenses.

More than 600 workers have sent in stories about their nightmarish bosses. The award for “Most Outrageous” boss went to Joan from Kansas, whose boss demoted her after unforeseen weather conditions caused a company outing to a baseball game to be cancelled. Joan’s boss blamed her because she picked the date.

“The stories submitted this year show that many workers have difficult bosses,” said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum. “The contest is a fun way to vent but also reminds us that many employees are stuck working for bad bosses because they have few available options in today’s economy.” A survey conducted for Working America that estimates some 15 million U.S. workers are dealing with bad bosses every day.

Go to for all the details.