iMail for Thursday, February 8, 2007

Federal Workers Take Aim at NSPS
With the newly-elected Democrats now in control of Congress, the IAM is working closely with the United Defense Workers Coalition (UDWC) to repeal the Bush administration’s faulty National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

Despite a ruling last February by District Court Judge Emmett G. Sullivan declaring certain parts of NSPS infringed on employees’ collective bargaining rights, the Bush administration is pressing forward in a relentless campaign to cut the pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights of civilian workers in the Department of Defense (DoD). The Bush administration appealed Judge Sullivan’s decision in April and the court of appeals will render its decision in the coming months.

After being authorized by Congress in the aftermath of 9-11, the Secretary of Defense and the Bush administration drafted NSPS regulations that exceed the authorizing language passed by Congress and were inconsistent with congressional intent. The new NSPS rules drastically reduce federal worker protections, gut the current pay system and virtually eliminate collective bargaining and union rights for DoD employees.

Manufacturing Jobs Continue Decline
Despite the Bush administration’s claims of a robust economy, manufacturing jobs are continuing their rapid decline. According to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), manufacturing employment declined by 16,000 in January and by 110,000 over the last 12 months. January marks the seventh month in a row with job declines in manufacturing.

That wasn’t the only bad news for manufacturing employees. The BLS also reported the factory workweek fell by .2 hour to 40.8 hours, and overtime declined by .1 hour to 4.1 hours. Since peaking in July, the manufacturing workweek has dropped by .7 hour.

Also buried inside the BLS numbers was disturbing news regarding wage growth. Hourly earnings for non-supervisory production workers, the majority of jobs in the U.S., rose by only .2 percent in January, the smallest wage gain since last September. Weekly earnings also fell by .1 percent in January, the first such decline since May 2006.

Local 2191 Ratifies Pact, Ends Strike
IAM District 66 and Local 2191 ended a strike yesterday by ratifying a new three year agreement with Chart Energy and Chemical in La Crosse, WI. The 312 members there had been on strike since 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, February 4, 2007.

Strike issues were wages, health care plan availability and shift assignment.
Following the ratification of the new 3-year agreement, DBR Rick Mickschl proudly said, “Our members were solid in their resolve to maintain the wages, benefits and working conditions they deserve.  They were true trade unionists braving sub-zero temperatures on the strike line and holding strong.”

Wages will increase $1.85 over the term of the agreement, there is a substantial increase in the company contribution to the IAM Pension Plan, the company 401(k) match doubled, new health care options provide a substantial savings and choice for members, and the profit sharing program was maintained.

Work resumed at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, 2007 with the start of 3rd shift. Local 2191 members at Chart Industries work in fabrication, welding, brazing, machining and maintenance making brazed aluminum heat exchangers. Chart is the only company making this product in the United States.

Women’s Department Names February Sisters of the Month
The IAM Women’s Department has named Cheryl Stockebrand of IAM Woodworkers LL W261 in Oregon the U.S. Sister of the Month for February. Jacqueline Schmidt of Local Lodge 1927 in Ontario was the pick for Canada.

Sister Stockebrand, who has been an IAM member for 13 years, is a Hyster-Utility/Stock Clerk with Timber Products. During her time with the IAM, she has served as Editor and Communicator for her local as well as on the Southern Oregon Labor Council. Stockebrand has also completed a two-year apprenticeship with the IAM Grand Lodge Organizing Department and various trainings at the IAM’s Winpisinger Educational Center. 

Seven-year IAM member Jacqueline Schmidt currently serves as the Recording Secretary for Local Lodge 1927 in Ontario, Canada. She also served on the Executive Board as a Lodge Trustee. Sister Schmidt, who is employed as a General Labourer at Dura Automotive, says she became more involved in her lodge activities as a result of a strong belief in the strength of solidarity and a genuine interest in unionism.

The IAM “Sister of the Month” program is an effort to motivate women to become more involved in their union by recognizing their hard work and dedication. If you’d like to nominate someone, download the nomination form and submit it to the IAM Women’s Department.

Adams County proposed contract with EMTs is DOA
The Adams County Emergency Medical Technicians in Quincy, IL voted overwhelmingly to reject a tentative three-year agreement recently. The 35 members of IAM District 9, Local 822 and the Adams County Ambulance Board have been working toward a settlement through the help of a Federal Mediator.

Mark Conner, Business Representative for IAM District 9 said, “The Medical Technicians made it clear that they are not happy with the wage package in the tentative agreement.  It’s obvious from the overwhelming approval of the strike vote.”

There are separate wage scales for EMTs and Paramedics in the current agreement. The Adams County solution was to offer a 3% across the board increase to both EMTs and Paramedics with an additional 75 cent increase to EMTs with paramedic licenses.

The membership rejected this deal. Conner voiced his displeasure saying, “This is just flat wrong. If there aren’t enough openings on the paramedics’ list throughout the years, you could have scenarios where people take 20-plus years to get to the top pay.  They may be retired first.”

There will be a bargaining session scheduled for February 13th and the union negotiating team is optimistic about reaching an equitable agreement.”