iMail for Thursday, February 16, 2006

IAM Announces Leadership Changes

The IAM Executive Council announced a series of retirements and successions that will ensure IAM members benefit from tested leadership, experience and dedication in the years to come.

After serving the IAM for more than 40 years, Headquarters GVP Robert V. Thayer will retire on June 1, 2006, and be succeeded by Richard Michalski, the long-time director of the IAM’s Legislative and Political Action Department.

Michalski, a 38-year IAM veteran, began his career as a member of Local 1916 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and served in a wide variety of leadership positions before taking the helm of the IAM Legislative and Political Action Department in 1992.

Additionally, on July 1, 2006, Midwest Territory GVP James E. Brown will retire after 42 years of service and be succeeded by current Midwest Territory Administrative Assistant Philip J. Gruber. Gruber is a 33-year IAM member with a long resume of service, including 16 years on the staff of District 9 in Bridgeton, Missouri.

“The service, dedication and loyalty of Bob Thayer and Jim Brown cannot be measured in years or described adequately with words,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “They have dedicated their lives to making life better for IAM members and working families in North America. Serving with them on the Executive Council has been a privilege.”

Thayer has served as a General Vice President since joining the Executive Council in 1997. Brown has served as the General Vice President for the Midwest Territory since 2003.


Senate Blocks Inadequate Asbestos Bill

The Senate used a procedural motion to block the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (S. 852) that would have put in place an inadequate system to compensate victims of asbestos exposure.

Opponents, including a majority of AFL-CIO affiliates, were concerned that the bill would leave a victim compensation trust fund severely underfunded and create new claim procedures that would delay benefits for workers suffering from asbestos exposure.

“Throughout the legislative process, our goal has been to arrive at a bill that provides fair and timely compensation to victims through an efficient and workable process,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in a letter to U.S. Senators.

“More needs to be done before the bill can fulfill its promise to provide fair and timely compensation to the victims of asbestos disease.”

The Senate’s action kills the legislation for now, but Senate rules allow GOP Majority Leader Frist to reintroduce the bill in the future.


Register Now for Human Rights Seminar

Enrollment applications for the June 4-9, 2006 Human Rights Seminar must be received by the Human Rights Department by March 17, 2006.

This seminar is designed to provide the participants with practical guidance on ways to become a constructive and pro-active force for Human Rights in their local and district lodges by establishing a functioning and effective Human Rights Committee.

The seminar will also provide members with practical strategies for being effective and vigorous advocates for diversity, mutual respect, fairness and equality in the workplace, the union and the community.


Democrats Call for Congressional Trade Enforcer

With the U.S. trade deficit hitting a record $725 billion in 2005, House Democrats are calling for the creation of a “Congressional Trade Enforcer” to ensure the United States prosecutes any country that cheats on their trade obligations.

Many Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee pointed to the Bush administration’s failure to punish trade violations as a main factor in the record trade deficit, which has doubled since Bush took office in 2001.

The House Democrats made a point to emphasize the impact the U.S.’s dangerously high debt with China has on the soaring trade gap. China’s unfair trade practices have contributed to a record $200 billion deficit with China.

Democratic lawmakers said they were also working on legislation that would give the U.S. the ability to block subsidized imports from China and other countries.

Representative Charles Rangel of New York said, “ China’s massive dollar holdings are a national security problem that makes the U.S. economy dependent upon Beijing’s goodwill.”

Watch Video: Democrats Call for Congressional Trade Enforcer


Louisiana Lawmakers Move to Protect Voting Rights

African-American voting rights advocates in Louisiana are celebrating a victory less than a week after staging protests over the defeat of a Senate bill that would allow New Orleans’ evacuees to vote at satellite locations around the state.

The blocked legislation, subsequently passed 71-29 in the Louisiana House of Representatives, will enable thousands of former New Orleans residents who remain in temporary housing across the state to vote in New Orleans’ April 22 election.

Rep. Willie Hunter, D-Monroe, said it is important for displaced New Orleans voters to know that “when they come back that they have played a part in the political process” by electing those who will shape New Orleans’ future.


Bush Drags Down Congressional Candidates

Growing dissatisfaction with President Bush is spilling over to Republicans in Congress, according to two recent surveys by the Pew Research Center for People and Fox News/Opinion Dynamics in an analysis published by Congressional Quarterly.

The Pew poll reported that registered voters said they would prefer an unspecified Democratic candidate over an unspecified Republican candidate by a 50 to 41 percent margin. In the FoxNews/Opinion Dynamics poll, when asked if it would be better for the nation if Democrats or Republicans controlled Congress after the election, respondents chose Democrats 42 percent to 34 percent.

“President Bush’s unpopularity has become a drag on his party’s prospects in the fall,” said the Pew analysis. Incumbents still hold a significant advantage, though. In the Pew survey, 59 percent said they would like to see their member of Congress re-elected and 28 percent said they would not. The “un-elect” number, however, is higher than the 1990, 1998 or 2002 mid-term elections.

On issues, Democrats scored highest on the environment and healthcare and in the Fox poll the scored highest on healthcare and the controlling the federal deficit. Republicans led on terrorism in both polls and fighting crime in the Pew poll and family values in the Fox poll.