iMail for Thursday, February 19, 2009

General Aviation Sector Fighting to Survive

For decades, the nation’s general aviation sector has provided a mostly corporate clientele with the means to conduct high-end business deals without having to navigate the frequently troubled waters of commercial aviation.

Production of the turbine and jet-powered aircraft also provided tens of thousands of IAM members at Cessna, Raytheon, Hawker Beechcraft, Bombardier and others with steady and satisfying employment. Nationwide, the general aviation sector, which includes engine and airframe production as well as avionics and post-production maintenance, employs more than 1,265,000 workers and contributes more than $150 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

But the industry’s high-flying fortunes took a nose-dive earlier this year when the credit crunch squeezed buyers in every tax bracket and put private jet makers in the same precarious predicament as the nation’s customer-starved auto dealerships.

Known worldwide at the center of business jet production, Wichita, KS, is being hit especially hard. Plane-makers there all reported sharp losses, with one company, Cessna, announcing 4,600 layoffs as production was scaled back by more than 50 percent.

The industry’s problems were compounded when the CEO’s of Detroit’s Big Three automakers traveled to Washington, D.C., on private jets seeking financial aid to stave off bankruptcy. Lawmakers took turns spanking the CEO’s for their use of the jets, which promptly became a symbol of out-of-control corporate excess.

“The general aviation sector is one of the few remaining domestic manufacturing industries that provide a trade surplus for the United States,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, who defended the industry and its workers. “In 2007, U.S. general aviation airplane manufacturers delivered over 3,279 airplanes to customers in the United States and abroad. The total value of these aircraft was close to $11.9 billion of which 38.4 percent were exported. “

The general aviation industry is clearly a national economic asset and one that deserves to be protected and preserved, rather than stigmatized and scapegoated.

Call Senators Today to Support Solis Nomination

Help ensure the Department of Labor fulfills its mission to promote the interests of America’s workers by urging your Senator to confirm President Barack Obama’s choice for Secretary of Labor.

Rep. Hilda Solis has been awaiting confirmation for almost a month – thanks to a group of Senate Republicans bent on holding her confirmation hostage.

Why? Because Rep. Solis’ reputation for rolling up her sleeves in support of working families precedes her. In her 15 years experience in the California State Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives, she worked tirelessly to expand job training programs, increase the minimum wage, improve equal pay laws, and make sure pension plans are secure. Most importantly, as the daughter of immigrant parents with union jobs, Rep. Solis is committed to defending workers’ rights, including the right to form a union without interference from the top office.

With the lives of so many working families hanging in the balance thanks to the current economic crisis, there is no time to waste. America’s workers need a Labor Secretary willing to advocate on their behalf right now and without further delay.

Click here to send a message to your Senator, or use the toll-free number 877-331-1223, and tell them to vote swiftly to confirm Rep. Hilda Solis as the new Secretary of Labor.

Machinists in Manitoba, Ontario Ratify New Contracts

IAM members of Local 1848 in Flin Flon, Manitoba, and Local 235 in Toronto, Ontario, have ratified new collective agreements with Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting and Revco Incorporated.

The three-year deal with Hudson Bay Mining avoided binding interest arbitration while securing a 2.5 percent wage increase each year. Local 1848 members will also receive a pension benefit increase and the restoration of underground mine bonuses for apprentices.

“We were fortunate to reach an agreement and thus avoid the Interest Arbitration process this time around in light of the current economic situation that both primary and secondary manufacturing are facing right now,” explained Grand Lodge Representative Brian Short. “When you add the uncertainty of a third party establishing wages and benefit levels based on these economic times, I applaud the negotiating Committee for their hard work to get an offer they were comfortable with bringing back to the membership for ratification.”

Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting operates copper and zinc mines in Flin Flon and Snow Lake, Manitoba along with a copper smelting and zinc processing operation.

The two-year deal with Revco provides for a wage increase of 1.5 percent each year. Other agreement highlights include an extra paid holiday and increased boot and vision care allowances.

“Considering the current economic situation in Canada, this was a good agreement,” said District 78 Business Representative Paul Mitchell. “We managed to keep our agreement intact and make some modest gains.”

Local 235 Revco members manufacture mechanical sprockets for a variety of industries across Canada.

Register Now for Human Rights Class at WWW Center

The first of two 2009 Basic Human Rights Classes will be held on May 3-8, 2009, at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, Maryland. The deadline for applications is February 27, 2009.

“Human Rights training is an important part of our commitment to ensure civil and human rights for all IAM members,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “I strongly urge all lodges in the United States and Canada to participate.”

The training provides practical information and guidance on how to establish a viable Human Rights Committee, as well as utilizing strategies to ensure that the committees operate proactively to assist in the protection of IAM members’ civil and human rights.

Click here for more information and to download an application form.

IAM Midwest Territory Welcomes Illinois Comptroller

The Comptroller for the State of Illinois, Dan Hynes, visited recently with local, district, TCU and grand lodge representatives at the IAM Midwest Territory office to discuss issues important to working families.

Hynes repeated his support for the Employee Free Choice Act and discussed air and rail transportation issues, pensions, health care reform and other issues affecting working families in these trying times.

“Dan Hynes has been a friend of the Machinists Union and organized labor for years,” said Midwest Territory GVP Philip J. Gruber. “The fact he would stop in to discuss our issues with us confirms the level of commitment he has to working families in Illinois.”