iMail for Thursday, December 04, 2008

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Bush Administration Delivers Parting Shots

With less than two months left in office, the Bush Administration is scrambling to do as much damage as possible before being shown the door. This week, Bush issued a new executive order that denies collective bargaining rights to about 8,600 federal employees in law enforcement, intelligence and other national security agencies.

The largest group affected by the order is about 5,000 workers at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). About 1,600 are represented by the National Treasury Employees Union who have had collective bargaining rights for more than 30 years.

“This is just one more slap in the face for federal workers by the most anti-labor administration in our lifetime,” said IAM Government Employees Director Frank Carelli. “We look forward to working with the new administration to give federal workers the respect they deserve and turn the page on the Bush Administration.”

U.S. Autoworkers Press for Emergency Aid

Leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW) this week approved additional cost-cutting measures in support of the industry’s efforts to secure government-backed bridge loans designed to prevent a catastrophic shutdown of the U.S. auto industry.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the union would delay automakers’ payments to a union-administered health care fund and modifies a program providing pay and benefits to laid-off autoworkers. Additionally, UAW leaders agreed to consider making further modifications to the 2007 agreements.

Gettelfinger will testify at congressional hearings this week alongside CEO’s from Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, who will offer detailed plans about how they plan to use a proposed $34 billion in loans to protect the companies from bankruptcy.

Drawing huge applause from UAW delegates at a joint meeting of UAW Ford, General Motors and Chrysler National Councils in Detroit, Gettlefinger stressed the crisis facing domestic autoworkers is affecting auto companies around the world. Nearly every other auto-producing country, including Germany, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Russia and China, has provided or is considering billions in aid to their respective auto industries.

The auto industry employs workers in every state – including Alaska and Hawaii. More than two million jobs from manufacturing, to parts and auto dealers, depend on carmakers for their pay.

Click here to send a message to your Senators and Congressperson or use the toll-free number 877-331-1223 and tell your representatives to save jobs during this economic crisis.

Political Showdown Looms in Canada

IAM Canadian General Vice President Dave Ritchie is urging all members to show their support for a new Coalition government, and join in the fight to do away with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s complete disregard for the economic welfare of the Canadian people.

Members in Canada are encouraged to take part in a series of rallies being held today and Saturday throughout the country.

“The Canadian government, as it currently stands, has proven its distinct inability to lead the Canadian people,” says Ritchie. “Instead of focusing on our needs and taking the steps necessary to buffer Canada’s economy during this global economic meltdown, Harper’s Conservatives have launched a cynical and partisan attack on our workers and communities.

“The Canadian people deserve better. We deserve a government willing to invest in jobs and the future of our people. That’s why I am urging IAM members to mobilize and show their support for the Coalition and the campaign to take backing our government,” says Ritchie.

A new Coalition government, made of Liberals and New Democrats with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, is prepared to work together and put the concerns of the Canadian people first. Parliament is scheduled to take a confidence vote on whether to oust the Conservative government Monday. While there is a strong possibility the minority Conservatives will be defeated, a strong show of support for a Coalition government is important.

Click here for a list of Coalition rallies being held throughout Canada today and Saturday. Also, Canadian members can click here to send their Member of Parliament a message telling them to support a Coalition government.

China Expands Commercial Aircraft Industry

The Boeing Company expects to have about 400 new job openings – in China. That’s right. The Dow Jones Newswires and Chinese media are reporting the U.S. plane maker recently broke ground on a new $21 million facility in Tianjin, China. The joint venture –formerly known as BHA Aero Composites Co., but now known as Boeing Tianjin Composites Co. – supplies composite parts to domestic and foreign companies.

IAM President Tom Buffenbarger commented that this is one more indication of just how serious China is becoming a global competitor in the world’s aerospace market. “The fact that China is building its aerospace industry with the direct support of western aerospace companies like Boeing, only adds insult to injury,” Buffenbarger said.

This expansion of would-be U.S. jobs in China comes nearly one year after the start of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Validated End-User program, which grants expedited access to U.S. aerospace technology.

Buffenbarger warned against the program back in January, saying, “It is naïve to assume that relaxing export restrictions on sensitive aerospace technology do not represent a significant threat to U.S. jobs, companies and communities.”

In a letter to the Under Secretary of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Buffenbarger wrote, “The approval of one of these companies… will involve work on the Boeing 787 program that could have been performed by U.S. workers.”

The Chinese media reports the new facility will be completed by early 2010. Employment is expected to increase from 600 to about 1,000 by 2013.

Ohio Members Remember the Troops

Leaders of District 34 in Columbus, OH, wondered if the worst recession in years would take a toll on the 2nd Annual Holiday Care Package Drive, an effort to collect donations for U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq. They need not have worried.

After the request for donations went out to local lodges in the district, IAM members stepped up and exceeded last year’s outpouring of generosity, collecting more than 3,000 pounds of goods and gifts, all of which were boxed up and shipped overseas.

“I was concerned that our donations would suffer this year because of the economy,” said ADBR David Brandenburg. “We actually collected more than last year, including items for troops to give Iraqi children.”

This year’s effort was special for Donald Harris, a District 34 member whose son was recently deployed to Iraq with the 1001st Reserve Unit based in Chillicothe, OH. The 1001st is among the units that will receive boxes filled with food items, including potato chips, cookies, canned fruit, cereals and other goodies from home. Other donated items include shaving gel, toothbrushes, laundry detergent and telephone calling cards, so that the troops can phone loved ones at home. Harris has two other children serving overseas, as well.

“Remembering the men and women serving in our military forces during the holidays embodies the IAM motto: Service to the Community,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “Thanks go out to the representatives and members of District 34 for their support of the troops serving our country.”
“I am very proud of our members who participated and gave of their time and donations for this very worthy cause,” said DBR Mike Hall. “The entire District 34 Staff pitched in to put the finishing touches on this tremendous effort.”

Photos can be viewed by clicking here.