iMail for Thursday, January 10, 2008

IAM Journal Addresses Critical Skills Shortage

The need to provide young workers with apprenticeship programs, technical and vocational education and affordable alternatives to a four-year college education is the focus of the latest issue of the IAM Journal, the award-winning publication of the Machinists Union.

While labor economists are predicting a shortage of 21 million skilled workers in the U.S. by 2020, many working families are still pursuing a traditional four-year college education for their kids. Despite the opportunities for good careers in the skilled trades, less than two percent of the half-trillion in annual education spending in the U.S. goes towards skills training and other viable alternatives to college.

The latest issue of the Journal also coincides with America’s Edge: Our Skills, Our Kids an IAM issue campaign that aims to make skills training a key issue in the ongoing presidential election. IAM members can show their support for the next generation of workers by signing a virtual Blackboard on the America’s Edge website.

“In order to retain America’s Edge, there must be a comprehensive national effort to re-emphasize technical and vocational classes in America’s high schools, expand the availability of industrial-technology and information-technology courses in our community colleges and create high-tech institutes in each state that focus on 21st century manufacturing technologies and materials,” says International President Tom Buffenbarger. “We must demand no less from the next president and the next Congress.”

Also included in the Journal is a look at an historic organizing victory at Vought Aircraft in South Carolina, an interview with Congressman George Miller of California and a look ahead to the 40th anniversary of the tragic death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

San Diego Ambulance Mechanics Ink First Agreement

Mechanics and Vehicle Service Technicians at American Medical Response (AMR) in San Diego, CA, successfully ratified a first agreement between the IAM and AMR just in time for the New Year. A familiar sight throughout San Diego, AMR’s vehicles were also deployed during recent Southern California wildfires and provided aid to Gulf Coast residents during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

The three-year contract caps off 14 months of intensive bargaining and provides annual wage hikes of 3.5 percent, 3.5 percent and 4 percent, in addition to a signing bonus that ranges from $200 to $1200. Additional terms include a formal grievance and arbitration process, safety-shoe reimbursements, eight paid holidays, health, dental and vision coverage and seniority provisions.

“These new members – mechanics, technicians and service coordinators – perform an integral function in the maintenance of AMR’s ambulances in San Diego,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “They deserve nothing less than reasonable compensation and a fair set of work rules. District 725 Business Representative Virginia Cobb and Negotiating Committee member Baltasar Molina did an outstanding job laying the groundwork for our members with this first contract.”

Sign up Now for Basic Web Class

If you want to attend the Communications Department’s Basic Web Development Class being held April 6-11, 2008 at the IAM William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center, you’ll need to register no later than January 25. The course is designed for IAM lodges just beginning their websites. To find out more about the class and to print out the Registration Form, click here.

As time is late, completed Registration Forms should be faxed to the Communications Department at 301-967-4586. Should you have any questions, please contact Donna Georgallas at, or at 301-967-4520.

Elaine Kennedy Named IAM Sister of the Month

Elaine Kennedy has been an IAM member for more than two decades. For the past eight years, she has served Lodge 389 in San Diego, CA, as the local’s Secretary-Treasurer and previously served as President, Vice President and Trustee.

Employed as a Precision Inspector at Solar Turbine in San Diego, CA, Kennedy says she’s always been a civil rights activist, and therefore naturally drawn to the basic principles and goals of the labor movement.
To ensure she could do the best job possible as a union leader, Kennedy took advantage of every educational opportunity she could find. To those in similar situations, Kennedy advises, “Don’t give up. Be persistent. Find a good and trusted mentor.”

Kennedy is a member of many labor constituency groups and represents the IAM as an alternate delegate on the CLUW National Executive Board. She is also active in a local community redevelopment project that aims to improve living conditions and employment opportunities.

District 15 Secures Recognition in Four Locations

Brooklyn, NY-based District 15 recently won voluntary recognition for new IAM members at four locations in two states. Drivers for New England Motor Freight at terminals located in Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH and Cincinnati, OH, joined the IAM after a majority of employees signed authorization cards.

“By networking throughout the system and at other terminals where we already represent drivers, we were successful at these three new locations,” said District 15 Organizing Director Vinny Addeo. “Thanks to Assistant DBR Mike Walsh for his support and efforts to bring these new members to District 15.”

Also, Truck King International in Ronkonkoma, NY, gave District 15 voluntary recognition after opening a new location there. The IAM represents the mechanics at three other Truck King terminals.