Obama Telegraphs Pro-NAFTA Position
The IAM is urging all union members to take a second look at Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) position on the North American Free Trade Ageement (NAFTA), following news reports he assured Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. that his opposition to NAFTA was “just campaign rhetoric.”
According to a report on CTV Television Network, a senior member of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) campaign staff contacted Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. earlier this month and warned him that the senator would be taking strong positions against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but that it was only “campaign rhetoric” and should not be taken seriously.
“I am appalled but not surprised by this report,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Working families cannot trust a candidate who telegraphs his real position to a foreign government and then dissembles in a nationally televised debate.”
The full CTV report is now posted on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAJYMgX4JuU and provides additional details, including a statement that an Obama campaign spokesperson confirmed that contact with the U.S. ambassador had been made during the past month.
NAFTA is an incendiary issue in Ohio, where tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs have been destroyed since NAFTA was signed into law. Voters in Ohio and Texas have been deluged with Obama campaign ads suggesting he would revisit the trade pact to negotiate new environment and labor standards.
Aerospace firms like Lockheed Martin are posting big profits and this agreement recognizes the key role our members play in making those profits possible,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger. “And at a time when American corporations are jettisoning pension plans, we improved defined-benefit pension benefits and ensured newly hired workers will be covered.”
The proposed agreements include a $2,000 ratification bonus in addition to wage increases of four percent in the first year, and three percent in the second and third years. The agreements also increase the pension benefit by $11 to $77 a month, which would give IAM members the highest pension in the aerospace industry. Improvements in health care coverage, insurance benefits and other retire benefits are also included.
“These agreements set a high standard in the aerospace industry for wages and benefits,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis, who led the negotiating teams from eight IAM locations. “The leadership for each of the locations did an outstanding job to make this a successful round of negotiations not only for their respective sites, but for the Machinists union as a whole.”
Negotiators representing IAM members at Lockheed Martin facilities in Palmdale, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz and Vandenberg AFB, California; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Marietta, Georgia; Meridian, Mississippi; Clarksburg, West Virginia will return to their respective locations to present the entire agreements to the membership. Informational and ratification meetings will be held at all locations on March 2, 2008.
Details of the agreements are posted on www.goiam.org/lockheed.
Firefighters at Raytheon Ratify New Contract
IAM firefighters who provide emergency fire and medical services at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, ratified a three-year agreement this month after hard bargaining on the part of the Local 933 negotiating committee. The settlement stands in sharp contrast to negotiations in 2006, when nearly 2,000 IAM members at the site were forced into a 10-week strike over health care issues.
Highlights of the new agreement include general wage increases of up to three percent each year, a $500 ratification bonus, significant increase in Paramedic Certification Pay from the current $.50 per hour to $1.80 per hour, increased shift differential, improved bereavement benefits, eight hour minimum call-in pay and improved pension benefits.
“Not only does this new agreement increase wages, it respects our No. 1 goal: job security,” said Local 933 DBR Jim Watson following the vote by firefighters to approve the new contract.
In addition to wage and benefit improvements, IAM negotiators blocked an effort by the company to increase the use of contract labor at the site and turned back a proposal to revise contract language protecting members’ seniority.
“Congratulations to Local 933 DBR Jim Watson, GLR Michel and brothers Willis, Hulland and Captain Burns on winning this agreement for our members,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “Raytheon has been a very difficult employer to deal with over the past few years, and it’s encouraging to see an agreement reached for these firefighters, who play such a critical role in safety at Raytheon’s Arizona plant.”
Local 933 represents more than 2,000 members at the Raytheon Missile Systems facility in Tucson, where the Tomahawk missile is produced in addition to other weapons systems.
DHS Gives Up Fight Against its Workers
Faced with a federal appeals court ruling against the personnel system it unilaterally imposed on the workers in 2005, and a congressional ban on spending any funds on new worker rules, the Bush administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has given up its long battle against its workers.
When the Bush administration announced plans in 2003 to radically revamp federal personnel rules, known as the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), the employees at Homeland Security and the Department of Defense (DOD) were its first targets. The plans would have devastated the federal workforce by forcing pay-for-performance plans, eliminating bargaining rights and fair appeals processes, rendering whistle-blower protections moot and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars. In a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, DHS abandoned its efforts to implement anti-worker rules, saying they will now “proceed with labor relations pursuant to applicable law.”
“Like their brothers and sisters at the Department of Defense, our members at DHS refused to give up, and their perseverance paid off,” said Frank Carelli, Director of the IAM Government Employees Department. “Bush administration policy repeatedly attempts to portray collective bargaining and national security as polar opposites, and that’s just not true.”
Last month, workers at DOD won when the Democratic-controlled Congress passed changes to NSPS that restored Chapter 71 rights, including collective bargaining rights and appeal processes.
“Each victory for our federal workers peels back another layer of this administration’s true anti-worker attitude and desire to gut collective bargaining and civil rights for workers throughout the government,” said Carelli.
Canadian IAM Members Win Two New Agreements
IAM members in Canada have won two new agreements which extend the union advantage in better wages and benefits.
IAM members of Local 386 in Owen Sound, Ontario ratified a new three-year agreement with Hobart Manufacturing Incorporated. The agreement provides yearly wage increases; adds Family day as statutory holiday; improves pension plan contributions and medical and dental benefits The 147 members perform a number of functions in the assembly and manufacturing of stainless steel commercial and industrial dishwashers.
And in Bathurst, New Brunswick, IAM members of Local 2418 ratified a new collective agreement with Lounsbury Automotive Limited that provides yearly wage increases and numerous workplace improvements. The 14 members include mechanics, technicians, paint shop staff, body men, utility men, parts department and clerical staff. Lounsbury is one of four automotive dealerships in New Brunswick represented by the Machinists union.
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