iMail for Thursday, February 21, 2008

President Buffenbarger Rips into Obama

Before a raucous crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in Youngstown, OH Tuesday night, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger ripped into Senator Barack Obama, taking aim at Obama’s lackluster record as a state Senator and his unwillingness to fight for working families.

“He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois state senate. Took a walk more than 130 times! That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves, all the right combinations, all the right footwork — but never steps into the ring. He walks away from the fight,” said Buffenbarger.

Buffenbarger also spoke at length about Obama’s trip to Galesburg, IL in 2004, in which Obama spoke to Machinists at Maytag who were fighting to keep their factory open. The Maytag plant would eventually close and Obama did little as more than 1,600 Machinists saw their jobs shipped to Mexico. In fact, before speaking to IAM members, he accepted more than $120,000 in campaign contributions from the Crown family, including Maytag’s single largest stockholder, Lester Crown.

“Barack so loved his own performance that he made Galesburg part of his presidential stump speech,” said Buffenbarger. “All he proved is that like Janus, the two-faced Roman god, he could ACT like a friend of the working man as he DANCED to the tune dictated by billionaires.”

The criticism of Obama comes as Machinists and working families throughout the country find their livelihoods at stake heading into the 2008 presidential election, struggling to deal with a rapidly spreading mortgage crisis, skyrocketing unemployment, hefty retirement costs and the continued loss of jobs.

“Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She’s our kind of fighter. All her life she’s fought our battles. For our jobs, for our health care, for our kids and for our country,” said Buffenbarger. “The Republican attack machine has taken its best shot at her time and time again and she’s still standing – and she’s still fighting for us.”

Click here to President Buffenbarger’s full text.

GAO Questions Forest Service Outsourcing

Bush Administration claims that ‘competitive sourcing’ in the U.S. Forest Service saved taxpayers millions of dollars are based on shoddy and misleading accounting practices, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. Competitive sourcing forces either the outsourcing of federal employees’ jobs or radical internal downsizing and reorganization.

GAO found that the Forest Service did not track significant costs, excluded others, and lacked sufficient data to back up claims of cost savings. In one case, $35.2 million in savings was reported to Congress for the competitive sourcing reorganization of information technology that failed to include costs of over $40 million.

The Forest Service followed the same accounting guidance from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that is used by all federal agencies. GAO’s findings undermine White House claims that competitive sourcing will save billions of dollars. In addition, the GAO report noted the program jeopardized the nation’s ability to fight fires and respond to other emergencies.

“In this revealing snapshot of one federal agency, we see the White House misleading Congress and the American people about the true costs of privatizing the federal workforce,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Congress should take a hard look at the scope of this dishonest accounting and the extent to which this kind of outsourcing is eating away at our country’s ability to provide essential services to its citizens.”

Although Congress recently acted to shut down the Forest Service competitive sourcing program for fiscal year 2008, the administration has proposed it be reinstated in 2009. “It is crucial that the current Forest Service outsourcing ban stay in place until the agency can develop and obtain Congressional approval of a plan to implement GAO’s recommendations,” stated Mark Davis, Chair of the IAM-NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee.

IAM Forges Ahead With WSL Affiliation

GLR Steve Nickel, second from right, SR Gary Schmidt, far left, and the WSL Executive Board

The Midwest Territory brought 236 new members into the IAM with an affiliation with the Workers Security League union. The new IAM members work in production and maintenance at Modern Drop Forge in Blue Island, IL.

“Excitement filled the air during the discussions with this new group of members,” said Territory Organizing Leader Steve Nickel. “They look forward to attending classes at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center. They were impressed with our Strategic Resources Department, other IAM departments and all services the IAM has to offer.” Enthusiasm ran so high that the affiliation vote passed by an overwhelming majority.

Another major factor in the affiliation was that the IAM represents so many workers at companies that Modern Drop Forge does business with like Harley-Davidson, Mercury Marine, Honeywell, Bombardier, and Federal Mogul.

“We are proud to represent our new members and honor their long tradition as true trade unionists,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Phil Gruber. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication in this effort by Administrative Assistant Roger Nauyalis, Grand Lodge Representative Steve Nickel and Special Representative Gary Schmidt.

IAM Special Assistant Tim Cross to Retire

 IAM Special Assistant to the General Secretary-Treasurer Tim Cross will be retiring after more than 30 years as an IAM member and activist. Cross first joined the IAM in 1974 as a member of Local Lodge 1977 in Letonia, OH while he was employed at NRM Corp. as a dispatcher. He served on the Local’s Negotiating Committee, then as Vice President and went on to be the Lodge President in 1983.

Cross became a Delegate to District 28 and a District Organizer in 1990. He was elected as a District 28 Business Rep. in 1992.  In 2000, Cross was named Education Representative for the Eastern Territory and in 2003 he became the Eastern Territory Administrative Assistant. In 2004 Cross joined the staff at IAM Headquarters as a Special Assistant to the General Secretary-Treasurer, Warren L. Mart.

“Tim Cross brought a high standard of service to every job he held as an IAM member,” said Mart. “He is a great trade unionist and has always been dedicated to the Machinists union and bettering the lives of all IAM members. We wish him a great retirement and thank him for his more than 30 years of exemplary service to the Machinists union.”

IAM Scholarship Application Deadline Feb. 22

Each year, the IAM scholarship program helps many IAM members and children of IAM members complete a four-year college degree or two-year technical/vocational program.

If you are a member, or child of a member, who meets the eligibility guidelines, your IAM Scholarship application must be postmarked no later than February 22, 2008.

To download application information and eligibility rules, go to or call 301-967-4708