iMail for Thursday, January 17, 2008

IAM and NASSCO Open Negotiations in San Diego

IAM District 947 Negotiating Committee (left and left to right: Roberto Becerra, Nick Ferioli, Joe Zimolzak, Richard Sanchez, Scott Gilding, Gilbert Huffman, Robert Martinez and, not pictured, Steve Cooper) sits across bargaining table from NASSCO Reps. (right to left: Tom Fawcett, Ted Scott, Anna Cooper, Don Dame) for the opening round of negotiations.

District 947 in Long Beach, CA and General Dynamics NASSCO opened bargaining on January 8 for a new contract that will cover both machinists and newly-organized electricians. The serious and productive tone of negotiations showed that both sides were ready to get the process underway. Determined to strengthen contract language and improve working conditions, the IAM Negotiating Committee is focused on issues such as union representation, overtime and improved grievance handling.

“I have every confidence that this committee can get the job done for our members at NASSCO,” said District 947 President and Directing Business Representative Richard Sanchez. “We’ve got regular meetings scheduled and hope to have a good offer to present to our members by April or sooner. I would encourage our members to keep in touch with their Shop Stewards and Committee members, as well as the District office, during these negotiations.”

IAM members at NASSCO, the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast, specialize in building auxiliary and support ships for the U.S. Navy and oil tankers and dry-cargo carriers for commercial markets. General Dynamics acquired NASSCO (formerly National Steel and Shipbuilding Company) ten years ago. The IAM also represents workers at the two other General Dynamic shipyards; Electric Boat Co., in Groton, CT and Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME.

GVP Philip J. Gruber Joins Picket at Valley Ford

Midwest territory GVP Phil Gruber recently joined striking members of Local 777 working for Valley Ford in Hazelwood, MO, protesting Valley Ford’s request for outrageous concessions from the 18 technicians, service writers and bodymen at the dealership.

The strike began on November 1, 2007 when Valley Ford said they wanted to gut paychecks, implement a two-tiered wage scale, replace the current pension plan with a no value 401(k) plan, eliminate the employees’ family health plan, employee portions for insurance would go as high as $540 per month and other ridiculous takeaways.

Jerry Vaughn, who has worked 40 years at Valley Ford, was told by management to pack up his tools and clear everything out. There would be no more contract negotiations with the union.

IAM District 9 Assistant Directing Business Representative Tony Rippeto praised the members saying, “We are extremely proud of our members for standing up for themselves and all the other technicians in the St. Louis metro area. The fight continues with the support of hundreds of union members from all over St. Louis who have been picketing and holding rallies in order to help our members.”

Machinists ‘America’s Edge’ Campaign Grows

Support is growing for the IAM’s ‘America’s Edge: Our Skills, Our Kids’ campaign to draw public attention to skills training, apprenticeship programs and greater funding for technical and vocational education. The Machinists campaign kicked off with a pair of TV ads in key states, membership mailings and a feature article in the IAM Journal.

IAM members can show their support by adding their names to the Blackboard on the America’s Edge website. There is also a special section on the America’s Edge website where members can post video clips of themselves and their coworkers on the job. To sign the Blackboard and to learn more about posting your own video on the America’s Edge website, go to

District 751 and SPEEA Speak Out for Boeing Tanker

IAM District 751 President and Directing Business Representative Tom Wroblewski and Cynthia Cole, president of Local 2001 of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA)/International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE), wrote a joint letter to The Seattle Times to call attention to the tremendous stakes involved in the Air Force’s decision on who will build the replacement for its aging fleet of KC-135 aerial refueling tankers. The Air Force will soon choose either Boeing’s KC-767 Advanced Tanker or the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company’s (EADS) Airbus A-330.

Choosing the American version could support more than 44,000 jobs with 300 contractors in forty states. “First and foremost, it just makes sense for the U.S. Air Force to use an American plane,” stresses Wroblewski and Cole. “The idea of outsourcing a $40 billion U.S. military aircraft program to the [EADS]… makes neither national-security nor economic sense. Why hand over some of our most valuable technology to Europe when we should be protecting it and our industrial base here at home?”

And who better to speak on the value of experience than the folks who’ve been designing and building tankers for years; namely IAM and SPEEA members? “Generations of Boeing engineers, technicians and machinists have worked on military programs,” continues Wroblewski and Cole. “That’s in stark contrast to Airbus, which has never built or flown a tanker.”

If the Air Force chooses the Boeing KC-767, an estimated 9,000 jobs will be created in the Washington state alone. To read the full letter, click here.

Bush Threatens to Veto Mine Safety Bill

The House yesterday passed legislation strengthening the nation’s mine safety and health laws, providing comprehensive jobsite protections for miners. The S-MINER Act builds on the 2006 Miner Act and would help prevent disasters, improve emergency response in the event that a disaster does occur and reduce long term health risks facing miners.

Despite receiving strong support from families of coal miners killed on the job, health experts and labor leaders, the Bush administration is threatening to veto the bill.

“It is critical that Congress take this action, because one thing is clear: We cannot leave mine safety and health to the Bush administration,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “We owe it to the loved ones of miners who died on the job to pass these protections today.”

The fatality rate for miners is more than seven times higher than the average for all private industries. Sixty-four miners died on the job in the U.S in 2007, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

Jan 18 Deadline Intermediate Web Class Enrollment

The enrollment deadline for the Communications Department’s Intermediate Web Class is January 18. This course, designed for IAM lodges currently operating websites and whose web stewards have attended Basic Web Design (not in the same year) will be held March 16-21, 2008 at the William Winpisinger Education and Technology Center.

Click here to download the official calls outlining class requirements and application forms. Completed Registration Forms should be faxed to the Communications Department at 301-967-4586.

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