Job security, affordable healthcare and a secure retirement are among the top concerns for nearly 4,400 manufacturing and aircraft assembly workers who are geared up for contract talks at the Ft. Worth, Texas unit of Lockheed-Martin Aeronautics Co.
IP Tom Buffenbarger delivered the opening statement on behalf of IAM members at Lockheed who build the F-16 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. “We intend to protect our members’ healthcare benefits, their pensions and make sure their jobs are secure,” declared Buffenbarger at the initial meeting with Lockheed representatives this week.
The IP was joined by Headquarters’ GVP Bob Thayer, Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis, District 776 President Pat Lane, District 776 Business Reps and the entire IAM District 776 negotiating committee.
“Lockheed Martin has strong sales, record profits and expects to continue that trend,” said GVP Thayer. “Our members have every right to expect a contract that reflects the success the company is now enjoying.”
The IAM-Lockheed negotiators will attempt to broker three separate contracts simultaneously; one for Production workers, one for Firemen and another for Nurses working at the Ft. Worth facility. The current agreements expires on April 9, 2006.
The IAM this week endorsed Democrat Christine Cegelis in Illinois’ hotly contested 6th Congressional District, where more than 6,000 IAM members are employed by various airlines at O’Hare International Airport.
“Christine understands what our members have been going through, and she’s been supportive all the way,” said Rich Delaney, Assistant General Chairman of IAM District 141.
“We’re going to be in touch with every member and every retiree and let them know that Christine Cegelis understands how bankruptcy laws are protecting corporations and wiping out pensions.”
James E. Brown, General Vice President of the IAM Midwest Region, was equally blunt: “We’re tired of middle-of-the-road, get-along, compromise kind of political decision-making in Washington,” said Brown.
“We need people who understand what’s happening to working families, and who have the courage and the ideas to change that. Christine is one of those people, and we’ll do everything we can to get her elected.”
Cegelis welcomed the support, calling it “huge” in terms of the impact it will have.
“This isn’t a symbolic or long-distance endorsement,” said Cegelis. “It’s my friends and my neighbors and hard-working constituents who deserve better than they’ve been getting from the decision makers in Washington. I couldn’t be more proud. Or more encouraged by the faith they’ve placed in me.”
In 2006 the General Secretary-Treasurer’s Department will conduct five in-depth training classes for IAM district and local lodge financial officers. Space is available for four of the remaining classes: May 7 – 12, 2006 (cutoff date for enrollment applications is April 5th), June 4 – 9, 2006 (cutoff date May 1st), Sept. 10 – 15, 2006 (cutoff date August 7th) and Oct. 15 – 20, 2006 (cutoff date September 11th).
Canadian members should plan to attend in either June or October. A Canadian Grand Lodge Auditor will be attending these two sessions to assist with the various Canadian forms.
Click here for the official call and enrollment form. Please contact GST Special Assistant Rob Minnich at 301-967-4543 for more information.
Joining the Machinists union has paid off for the 28 volunteer firefighters in the Canadian town of Simcoe, Ontario. The members of IAM Local 1547 ratified a new three-year agreement with the County of Norfolk.
“The firefighters turned to the IAM for representation in the summer of 2004 when the County refused to recognize their bargaining group and negotiate a new collective agreement,” explained Grand Lodge Representative Jim Nugent.
“The members are extremely happy with the results of a lengthy round of negotiations,” said Nugent. “The members will be paid an hourly rate of $26 per call and are guaranteed $100 per day for their 10-duty/on call days required each year.”
Under this agreement, Captains will receive an additional $1,200 per year for their rank and if they become a trainer they will receive an additional $1,100 per year. Firefighters will also receive a $1,000 signing bonus and an annual honorarium of $1,000.
The agreement also provides for more rapid promotion to second-class firefighter following a successful probationary period by eliminating the third class firefighter category.
“These members maintain a very high standard in order to save lives and property and this agreement acknowledges their efforts,” added Nugent.
The AFL-CIO this week unveiled a new blog AFL-CIO Now, that will post breaking news and updates all day, every day. Described as a news blog with attitude, the site gives working families an interactive forum for news and commentary about healthcare, wages, job exports and more.
On AFL-CIO Now, union members and their allies can also learn about efforts to protect the freedom to form unions and bargain. They can read about what workers, their unions and allies are doing to stop greedy corporations and anti-worker politicians from making life harder for working families, and how to get involved.
General Vice President Dave Ritchie announced the appointment of Carlos DaCosta as the new IAM Airline Coordinator. DaCosta will be responsible for all IAM transportation issues in Canada with the emphasis on air transport. DaCosta is currently the Regional Assistant Directing General Chairperson for IAMAW District 140 Central Region. He succeeds Steve Vodi, who retired December 31, 2005.
“Carlos brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the industry to this position which will be invaluable to our membership,” explained Ritchie.
DaCosta began his aviation career with Air Canada as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician in Toronto in 1974. He was a shop steward with IAM Local 2323 from 1978 until 1993. He was Shop Committee Chairman from 1993 until 1998 and also served as an executive board member and Vice President of District 148. He was elected to his current position as a General Chairperson of District 140 in March of 1998.
Inequality between the rich and middle/lower income families continues to widen, according to a recent Economic Policy Institute and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, which shows the incomes of the wealthy have skyrocketed over the past 20 years, while the rest of working America has seen only modest gains.
A major factor in the inequality is the declining real value of the minimum wage. Minimum wage workers earned only 32% of the average hourly wage in 2005, according to the report.
The average hourly wage was $16.41 in January 2006. In order to reach 50% of the average wage, which was the level experienced in the 1950s and 1960s, the minimum wage would need to be raised from $5.15 to $8.20. Raising the minimum wage would improve purchasing power for lower income families and help curb the growing income inequality within the United States.