iMail for Thursday, December 18, 2008

Machinists Union Puts Skills on Display 

A foundation in science, engineering and mathematics are fast becoming essential ingredients for career success in today’s high-tech manufacturing sector. That was the unanimous refrain of a group of employers, government contractors, school officials and union representatives who took part in the first annual Youth in Technology summit at the College of Southern Maryland.

Hundreds of high school and middle school students and their parents from across Maryland listened to experts describe the high-paying career opportunities that await high school graduates, but only for those with the foresight to attain the necessary skills.

Instructors and staff from the William W. Winpisinger Center were on hand to present an impressive display of products made by IAM members and to describe the special skills required to build and maintain aircraft engines, solid fuel rocket boosters, nuclear submarines and automotive components.

“This kind of outreach is essential to educate young people about the types of high-paying careers that are out there and the skills they’ll need to get started,” said WWW Center Director Chris Wagoner. “We know first hand about the shortages in the aerospace and high-tech manufacturing sectors. These are exciting and rewarding careers and there is a serious shortage of qualified applicants. We’re very pleased that the IAM is partnering with major employers and fellow unions in this important effort.”

Keep Up Pressure for Employee Free Choice Act

Corporate interests are already ramping up their campaign to derail the Employee Free Choice Act in the 2009 Congress. IAM members should keep up the pressure to get their Senators and Representatives in Congress to co-sponsor and vote for the bill.

Take Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D). She seems to thinks it’s not necessary for the men and women of her state to earn more money and receive better benefits. The Associated Press reports Lincoln is considering voting against the Employee Free Choice Act. The senator told reporters she doesn’t feel there’s a need right now for the legislation, which would ensure that workers have a free choice and a fair chance to form a union.

“I find Senator Lincoln’s views regarding a bill that would protect the wages and benefits of America’s hardworking men and women inconceivable,” says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the state of Arkansas’s average weekly wage ranks 44th in the nation. It appears to me the men and women of that state need as much economic help as they can get. Union membership is the best way to preserve family-wage jobs and benefits and a right that every American should have.”

IAM members can help pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) by signing a card to support EFCA and click here to send a message to your Senators and Representative to urge them to co-sponsor the legislation in the 2009 Congress. EFCA “Million Member Mobilization” cards were sent to every IAM local and district lodge in the country.

Signed cards should be returned to local and district lodge representatives, who will then forward them to their respective territory offices.

For information about the Employee Free Choice Act, including a fact sheet and other background information, click here. To sign an online version of the AFL-CIO card, click here.

Help Striking Moncure Workers

IAM members of Local 369 in Moncure, NC have been on strike since July 20th against their employer Moncure Plywood. The workers went on strike after the company demanded 60-hour work weeks, the elimination of almost all aspects of seniority and unfair increases in health premiums.

Moncure management then unilaterally implemented a contract and with the consent of its corporate owner, Atlas Holdings, striking members are in the process of being permanently replaced. Adding insult to injury, Moncure management allowed a noose to be displayed just inside the plant gates in clear sight of the picketers – most of whom are African-American.

IAM members can help Moncure workers win their fight for justice by sending a letter to Moncure’s major customers alerting them of Moncure’s outrageous behavior. Click here  to send the letter.

Moncure workers will also be holding a rally on Saturday December 20th at noon at the Chatham County Courthouse in Pittsboro, NC. Click here for more event information.

Southern Territory Notches Two Organizing Victories

The Southern Territory notched two organizing victories at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB) in South Carolina and Mercedes of Orlando in Florida. The 10 new members at Shaw AFB are Supply Technicians who work for DynCorp and they voted 100 percent for the IAM. “Their main reason for having a union was rights on the job,” said District Lodge 110 Directing Business Representative Ron Shafer. “I’d like to thank Rob Kelly, a member who works at Ahntech in Poinsett, SC. who helped during the campaign. Also deserving of thanks is Local Lodge 2297 Vice President Lenny Lott, who has helped organized several new units for the district, as well as this one.”

District 110 has won three of four recent elections in the federal sector. “Congratulations to DBR Shafer for continuing the Southern Territory work in organizing, and thanks to all who made it possible,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez.

Another major win occurred when 33 courageous Automobile Technicians at Mercedes of Orlando, a branch of AutoNation, held together during 74 days of ant-union tactics by their employer.

The win was a combined effort of the Auto Techs, who are among the most skilled in their profession, and Southern Territory staff at all levels, including Southern Territory Automotive Coordinator Dave Porter, Territory Organizing Leader Bobby Sapp, NLRB Liaison GLR Jeff Smith, District 166 Organizer Javier Alamazan and Local 57 President Greg Thompson. The Mercedes victory stands out because of the increasing use of anti-union tactics by employers during organizing campaigns that stretch the limits of NLRB rules.

“My hat goes off to these technicians who endured a long anti-union campaign but stuck together,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “There seems to be a wake-up call for Auto Technicians across the South who are realizing the importance of a signed written union contract in lieu of years of broken employer promises.”

Workforce Alliance Calls for Investment in Skills Training

The Workforce Alliance (TWA), a coalition of business, civic and labor leaders, is calling on President-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress to invest in the skills of the American workforce and help workers better compete.

TWA released its new national Skills Platform, a three-prong strategy – known as the “Three Ps” – for ensuring more U.S. workers obtain the 21st century skills necessary to meet industry needs. In a meeting with Obama’s transition team, the Alliance urged the incoming administration’s support for legislation that creates sector partnerships, career pathways and proportionate investments within our workforce – especially during these hard economic times.

According to the Alliance, research shows that nearly half of all future U.S. jobs will require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. Unfortunately, the government has done very little to ensure that when such positions open up, a qualified pool of applicants exists to fill them. Thousands of production jobs go unfilled each year because workers lack the basic training, certification or credentials to operate precision machinery.

TWA compares its effort to the GI Bill’s granting of access to vocational training or a college education during the 1950s and 1960, which was instrumental in improving the U.S. workforce while aiding a changing economy.

Holiday Closure Notice

IAM Headquarters will be closed for the holiday season at the close of business on December 19th and will re-open on January 5, 2009. Best wishes to all IAM members for a safe and joyous holiday season.