iMail for Thursday, January 15, 2009

Capitol Prepares for Historic Inauguration
The nation’s capitol is bracing for record crowds in anticipation of the historic Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama on January 20 as the first African-American president in U.S. history. Estimates range from 1.5 to three million people who will make the trip to the National Mall, far more than the 400,000 who attended President Bush’s inauguration in 2005. The inauguration comes the day after the nation honors the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who galvanized the Civil Rights movement on the same Mall 45 years ago with the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

“The record crowds expected for President-elect Obama’s Inauguration reflect working families’ enthusiasm for a new day in Washington and America,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “We look forward to working with the Obama administration to rebuild America’s middle class families and craft a speedy economic recovery to end the devastating nightmare of unemployment that is gripping millions of Americans.”

GKN Agrees to Return to Negotiating Table
GKN Aerospace in St. Louis, MO notified District 837 that it will return to the bargaining table. The notification came three days after IAM District 837 members rejected GKN’s contract proposal on January 11, 2009.

“The Machinist Union will use every resource at our disposal to negotiate a contract that meets the expectations of the District members here in Missouri,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin.

The IAM expects to work out the issues that did not meet the members’ expectations in the last contract offer during these follow-up meetings.

“The issue is not if the membership is prepared to strike, it is if GKN is prepared to make significant changes to those areas of the contract the members are unhappy with,” said District President Gordon King.

Additional information and updates can be found on the District 837 website.

Public Support Strong for Employee Free Choice Act
Support for free choice remains strong, despite anti-worker campaigns aimed at disarming U.S. employees of their right to unite for better wages, better working conditions, and better health care.

A new survey shows 78 percent of those polled support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – legislation that protects workers who wish to form a union.

The survey covered individuals from across the country and across party lines. Even after the barrage anti-Free Choice Act ads, seventy-four percent of those who identified as moderate or liberal Republicans were in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act.

The report also shows 64 percent of those polled support strengthening penalties against companies who illegally intimidate or fire workers trying to form a union. And, 61 percent favor binding arbitration if a company will not agree to a first contract.

“I am not at all surprised by the numbers,” says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “In today’s economy, where companies are wheeling and dealing their numbers at the expense of their employees; forcing them to submit to low pay and less than adequate health care coverage. It’s high time workers get to do some negotiating of their own.”

Don’t forget to sign a “Million Member Mobilization” card to support The Employee Free Choice Act. The AFL-CIO will present the cards to President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress to demonstrate the widespread support for stronger laws to protect the right to choose a union and bargaining a first contract free from unfair employer tactics.

Cards were sent to every IAM local and district lodge in the United States. Signed cards should be returned to local or district lodge representatives who will then forward them to their respective territory offices. For information about the Employee Free Choice Act, including a fact sheet and other background information, click here.

To sign an online version of the AFL-CIO card, click here.

IAM Members Answer Call to Help Moncure Strikers
IAM members and their families answered the call to help fellow members at Moncure Plywood by joining the campaign to send letters to Moncure’s major customers ( alerting them about Moncure’s outrageous behavior toward IAM Local 369 members in Moncure, NC.

“We processed more than 1,000 letters in the initial weeks of this campaign. Our goal is to double this amount every week until the owners of Moncure Plywood agree to put our striking IAM members back to work,” said IAM Woodworkers Department Director Rod Kelty. “If you do go furniture shopping, please tell the sales person that you do not want furniture containing wood from the strike breakers now working at Moncure Plywood.”

Moncure workers have been on strike since July 20th after the company demanded 60-hour work weeks, the elimination of almost all aspects of seniority and unfair increases in health premiums.

Moncure management then unilaterally implemented a contract and with the consent of its corporate owner, Atlas Holdings, striking members are in the process of being permanently replaced. Moncure management also allowed a noose to be displayed just inside the plant gates in clear sight of the picketers – most of whom are African-American.

Click here to send a letter to Moncure customers and help your fellow brothers and Sisters at Moncure Plywood.

New Dates for Communications Conference
The 2009 Communications Conference, previously scheduled for Sept. 13-16, 2009 will now take place on Sept. 27 – 30, 2009. The location remains Vancouver, British Columbia. The official call for the conference has not been issued, but members in the United States who are interested in attending the conference should note that they must have a valid and current U.S. Passport to travel to and from Canada.

Passport applications are processed by the U.S. State Department and can take from several weeks to several months to process. Additional information, instructions and a passport application form are available at:

Holiday Closure
In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and Inauguration Day, IAM Headquarters will be closed January 19 and 20, 2009.