iMail for Thursday, January 18, 2007

IAM Wins Connecticut Court Ruling on Arbitration

Members of Local 743 employed at Hamilton Sundstrand in Windsor Locks, CT won a key victory recently when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Connecticut District Court’s decision compelling arbitration of a grievance filed by the Local.

In 2005, Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., a division of United Technologies Corporation, announced it was transferring bargaining unit work out of state, a move that would result in the permanent loss of 77 members’ jobs. The company decision came despite contract language requiring the company to share plans regarding “manufacturing costs, productivity, scheduling, business and staffing plans affecting the bargaining unit.”

The issue took on added importance when the company challenged the contract’s arbitration clause, arguing its right to transfer work was beyond the scope of the contract and beyond the authority of any arbitrator.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that the contract “contemplates an on-going good faith cooperative process to jointly address potential problems impacting job security.”

Thanks to the Appeals Court ruling, Local 743 will now be able to arbitrate this grievance, and hopefully ensure that Hamilton Sundstrand will comply with the collective bargaining agreement now and in the future. Arguing the case for the IAM was labor attorney Mary Kelly, daughter of the late GLR Paul Kelly.

Unions Sue to Protect Shipbuilding Jobs

The AFL-CIO’s Metal Trades Department filed suit against the U.S. Coast Guard to protect the Jones Act, the longstanding legislation that requires ships moving between U.S. ports to be built in the U.S.

In May, the U.S. Coast Guard authorized plans by Aker American Shipping in Philadelphia and NASSCO, a division of General Dynamics, to assemble tankers using thousands of parts and modules imported from Korea.

The ruling by the Coast Guard could possibly compromise national security and ultimately strip as many as 55,000 union workers of their jobs. The Metal Trades Department says another 250,000 jobs supported by the U.S.-based marine equipment suppliers would quickly collapse soon thereafter. The Metal Trades Department filed the suit January 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

With Friends Like These….

Against a backdrop of slogans declaring “Divided We Fail” and “Together We Can Do Anything,” three men in business suits shook hands in Washington, D.C. and congratulated themselves on a newly formed alliance that could be the biggest threat to genuine health care reform since the Harry and Louise ad campaign.

Smiling broadly on the left was John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, an association of corporate CEO’s and a longtime foe of workers’ collective bargaining rights. In the middle was Bill Novelli, President of AARP, the so-called senior’s lobby that lost thousands of members when it joined forces with the pharmaceutical industry to support President Bush’s prescription drug plan. On the far right was SEIU President Andy Stern, who has been meeting with business leaders and declared recently that traditional employer-paid heath care plans are “dead.”

According to an article by Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post, the unlikely health care coalition is designed to give President Bush political cover by offering re-packaged versions of so-called reforms that have been largely supported by corporations and insurance companies. The group proposes mandates that would require individuals to purchase health insurance, subsidies and changes in tax laws in addition to caps on negotiated health care benefits for union members.

Persistence Pays Off in Canada Organizing Drive

For the second time in less than four months, the employees of Wexxar Packaging in Delta, British Columbia voted to join the IAM – and this time the BC Labour Board accepted the results.

When Wexxar was absorbed by Pro Mach of Loveland, Ohio in 2006, the workers, who manufacture machinery for the packaging industry, turned to the IAM for professional representation. On September 20, 2006, the workers voted to join the IAM but the BC Labour Board refused to certify the results. Another vote was ordered December 13, 2006, which resulted in 76 percent of the members casting ballots in favor of the Machinists.

“District 250 Business Representative Al Cyr and Directing Business Representative Stan Pickthall did a terrific job in explaining to our new members what the IAM is all about,” said GLR Ron Fontaine. “They answered questions clearly and concisely. The president Rita Granson and vice-president Mulkeet Singh also did a remarkable job in keeping their membership informed on all the issues throughout this process.”

One of the deciding factors for the workers at Wexxar was the training the IAM provides to its membership. The 42 new members will belong to Local 692 in Vancouver, BC.

Enroll Now for Financial Officers’ Seminar

The General Secretary-Treasurer’s Department will conduct five in-depth training classes for IAM district and local lodge financial officers this year. Space remains in all five of the classes: March 18 – 23, 2007, April 29 – May 4, 2007, June 3 – 8, 2007, September 9 – 14, 2007 and October 14 – 19, 2007. The course is designed to help financial officers better maintain accurate financial and membership records for your lodge and the I.A.M.

Click here for the official call and enrollment form ( Please contact GST Special Assistant Rob Minnich at 301-967-4543 for more information.

House Cuts Student Loan Rates in Half

The House yesterday passed legislation cutting rates on subsidized student loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over a five-year period, an important step in making a college education more attainable for low and middle income students.

The College Student Relief Act, which passed 356-71, would benefit 5.5 million students who receive need-based loans.

“This is really the first time that an entire generation of Americans has had to go deeply into debt in order to get a college degree,” said Rep. George Miller, chief sponsor of the bill. “And many would-be students, as many as 200,000 per year, are choosing to delay or forgo attending college because they can’t afford it.”

The House is scheduled to take up legislation today that would cut $14 billion in federal oil and tax breaks doled out to corporate giants such as Exxon, instead investing the money in renewable-energy programs.

As part of their pledge to focus on helping low and middle income families during their first 100 hours as the majority, House Democrats have already pushed through legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over the next two years and allow the federal government to negotiate for lower Medicare prescription drug prices.

Strippit / LVD Employees Join IAM

Employees at Strippit / LVD are the newest members of IAM Local 1691 in Akron, NY. Strippit / LVD manufactures punch presses, a type of machine press used for forming and cutting material. “On behalf of the Eastern Territory and its members, welcome to our newest IAM members and congratulations and appreciation to District Lodge 65 Organizer Paul R. Urbanczyk, Business Representative Ron Warner, Local 1691 President Rick Dahn, and all of the team for a job well done,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr.