iMail for Thursday, December 11, 2008

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Senate Republicans Aim to Kill Auto Rescue

A handful of conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate are seeking to choke the life out of an effort to provide U.S. automakers with $14 billion in emergency bridge loans needed to survive the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Taking to the airwaves and newspapers, GOP senators led by Alabama’s Richard Shelby are feverishly opposing aid to the automakers, arguing instead they should be forced into bankruptcy, despite widespread agreement that millions of jobs could be lost.

“Republicans in the U.S. Senate are poised to do for the U.S. auto industry what the Bush administration did for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “It is outrageous that these lawmakers, whose states are home to numerous foreign auto companies, are leading the charge to deal a fatal blow to the U.S. auto industry.”

The impact of an auto industry collapse would extend far beyond Detroit and the industrial Midwest. According to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, the collapse of just one auto maker, General Motors, could cost nearly 900,000 jobs spread across every state and the District of Columbia.

“We are witnessing a historic and potentially tragic moment in American history, when a small group of Republican lawmakers were willing to sell millions of their countrymen down the river in the name of corporate campaign contributions and blind allegiance to unregulated free market ideology,” said Buffenbarger.

Click here to send a message to your Senators and Congressperson or use the toll-free number 877-331-1223 and urge them to pass legislation to save America’s auto industry and economy.

Myers to Lead IAM Organizing Department

The IAM Organizing Department will begin a new chapter in its proud history when long-time IAM activist George Myers takes over as director on January 1, 2009. Myers will succeed Larry Washam, who begins a well-deserved retirement after a 40-year IAM career that included service at the local, district and grand lodge level before taking over as Organizing Director in 2005.

“This is among the most important departments in the Machinists union,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “I have every confidence that George will bring a combination of experience, enthusiasm and street smarts to a department that has distinguished itself since the early days of the railroad boomers.”

Myers initiated into the IAM in 1971 as a member of Local 1400 in York, PA. While working as a Journeyman Maintenance Millwright for Allis-Chalmers, Myers served as Shop Steward, Vice President and President of his local lodge before beginning his career as an organizer, business representative, vice president and president of District 98.

Prior to his appointment as director of the Organizing Department in 2005, Larry Washam served since 1991 as a Special Representative and Grand Lodge Representative assigned to the Organizing Department. Initiated in 1969 into Local 480 in Oak Ridge, TN, Washam held numerous local and district leadership positions, including Shop Steward, Local President and District 169 Business Representative.

“There are thousands of IAM members who owe their careers and their union contracts to the work of Larry Washam,” said IP Buffenbarger. “For more than three decades, even under the most difficult circumstances, Larry has always given more than was asked of him. It’s been an honor to work with him and on behalf of the IAM and all its members, I wish him a long and happy retirement.”

House Committee Grills Treasury Officials

U.S. lawmakers say they were lied to about the $700 billion bailout approved for financial institutions back in October. They’re threatening to withhold the remaining half of the money unless the Treasury Department does more to keep homeowners in their homes and help banks lend more money.

Members of the House Financial Services Committee listened Wednesday as a Treasury official updated them on the progress of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as TARP. The committee reviewed two separate reports. In the first report, the Congressional Oversight Panel for Economic Stabilization questioned how the money is being spent and whether it’s helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. The second report by The General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, also criticized the Treasury’s handling of the bailout program.

The money was supposed to be used to buy troubled assets from banks in hopes of restoring confidence in the financial market. The Treasury, instead, used the money to buy bank shares. Some lawmakers have accused banks of hoarding the money, instead of lending it out.

House lawmakers are demanding answers before the remaining $350 billion is released.

“News of the pathetic handling of the financial bailout package shows the apparent disconnect between Wall Street and the needs of America’s working families,” says IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “As Congress debates help for the auto industry, which is expected to save over three million jobs, taxpayers should insist that the bill should include protections for the workers and measures to ensure the benefits go to everyday citizens, not highly-paid executives.”

A Home Grown Rx for Economic Recovery

With the nation officially in recession and unemployment reaching levels not seen in decades, policymakers are scrambling to find ways to pump life back into the nation’s economy.  In an effort to address the growing crisis, President-Elect Obama recently announced his intention to implement a major public works program to help rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.

IAM Trade and Globalization Director Owen Herrnstadt suggests that for any stimulus package to work, new guidelines must be adopted to ensure that government expenditures, grants and financing must directly result in the creation of good jobs here at home.

“Strengthening the Buy America Act is a good place to start,” said Herrrnstadt, who called for the elimination of needless waivers that allow sidestepping of the Act. “We also need to bolster domestic content requirements, implement employment impact reviews and demand greater transparency in government contracts so that taxpayers can know if their money is being spent to create jobs here at home.”

Communications Dept Welcomes New Staff

The IAM welcomes LaToya Egwuekwe as the newest member of the Communications Department staff. Egwuekwe brings a strong background in broadcast journalism and writing to help in the many tasks carried out by the Department. Egwuekwe has been working as a news reporter, producer and writer, is a graduate of Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University and is working on her Masters Degree from American University.

“We welcome Ms. Egwuekwe to the Communications Department,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Her skills, experience and training will be a great help in the increasingly complex world of modern communications.”

Winpisinger Biography Available

William W. Winpisinger, who was IAM International President from 1977 to 1988, is regarded as one of the most important figures in modern labor history. In addition to his stewardship of the IAM, “Wimpy” also sued OPEC for price fixing, helped establish the NFL Players Association, was one of the first civilians to ever use the internet, exposed big media’s bias against the labor movement and was instrumental in convincing Ted Kennedy to challenge Jimmy Carter for the Presidency.

A new biography of Winpisinger by Patrick S. Halley gives an in-depth look at the legendary labor leader known worldwide by his nickname, “Wimpy.” Critics have called it: “Well researched, elegantly written;” and “…a must read for anyone curious about both the life and times of an American original and the promise of a better life for all Americans;” and “A great history of the Machinists Union and the Labor Movement.” To order a copy of “Wimpy” (Booksurge Publishing, 2008), go to, or visit

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