iMail for Thursday, January 31, 2008

‘America’s Edge’ Campaign Reaps Big Dividends

The IAM campaign to draw attention to the nationwide shortage of skilled workers hit pay dirt this week when Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire announced a $3 million addition to the state’s budget for aerospace and technology apprentice programs.

“It’s great to see Gov. Gregoire make investments like this in aerospace workers,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski following the governor’s announcement at an ‘America’s Edge’ rally in Seattle. “This will pay long-term dividends for our competitive place in the world as we vie for these jobs in the global market.”

The bid to fund additional apprentice programs also drew strong support from Washington House leader Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, vastly increasing the likelihood the state budget proposal will win final approval.

Following the announcement in Seattle, WA, the week-long ‘America’s Edge’ campaign moved to Chicago, IL, where IAM leaders and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend were welcomed by students and staff at Austin Polytechnical Academy. In addition to a traditional curriculum, the inner-city high school provides precision skills training and the entrepreneurial know-how for students to become the next generation of local business owners.

“We must partner with schools like this the same way we have with Aviation High School to improve our children’s futures,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., who spoke at all of the America’s Edge events during the four-day whirlwind tour. “We cannot afford to wake up one day and find we have ignored our most valuable resources; our skills and our kids.”

IAM members can show their support for the ‘America’s Edge, Our Skills, Our Kids’ campaign by adding their names to the Blackboard on the America’s Edge website. There is also a special section for members to 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

IAM Fire Pilots Featured in ‘Popular Mechanics’

The February issue of Popular Mechanics features an in-depth article about fire-fighting pilots and the mechanics and components personnel who keep their aircraft flying.

The PM article, titled ‘America’s Toughest Wildfire Pilots,’ describes the workday of Joe ‘Hoser’ Satrapa, a member of IAM Local 946 in Rancho Cordova, CA, as he raked Southern California wildfires with fire retardant in October 2007. Local 946 represents nearly 80 mechanics and components employees in addition to more than 50 pilots who are employed by Dyncorp Corp.
“No two drops are the same,” says Satrapa in the article. “You’re close to the ground; you’re looking out for trees and poles. You’ve got wind shears and crosswinds and convection columns that can flip you right on your back, and smoke and pieces of ember the size of grapefruits. You’ve gotta plan your escape route every time.”

A Navy veteran with 17 years of tanker-flying experience in addition to 162 combat missions and nearly 500 carrier landings, Satrapa and other IAM-represented pilots fly S-2 Trackers and OV-10 Broncos for Dyncorp in conditions that test the absolute limits of man and machine.

An on-line version is available on the “Popular Mechanics” website – including video.

NSPS Reform Cheers Federal Workers

Defense Department workers scored a major victory this week when President Bush signed into law the fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization Act, which includes language to fundamentally reform the Pentagon’s flawed National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

The law includes language that would restore collective bargaining and appeal rights under NSPS and exempt all wage-grade employees from NSPS.
“Our members have been in a long, tough fight to get changes made to NSPS and everyone who helped make this victory possible should be proud,” said IAM Government Employees Director Frank Carelli.

It wasn’t until Democrats took control that Congress was able to get legislation passed altering NSPS. In December, President Bush vetoed the previous authorization bill over an unrelated provision. Rather than attempt a veto override, Congress drafted a new bill without the offending Iraqi provisions.

“We are glad to see this process has finally come to an end,” said NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 President Rick Brown.,” “It has been almost two months since we learned what was in the conference report.  We fought very hard for changes to NSPS, and we are happy these reforms are finally signed into law.”

Rail, Airline Members Work Side-by-Side

Railroad machinists from Local 112 in St. Paul, MN, are joining forces with Air Transport Local 1833 members in Bloomington, MN, to get the vote out this primary election season.

Working the phone banks earlier this week at Local 1833 in support of Hillary Clinton were Railroad Local 112 members Adam Brown and John Lucchesi, Air Transport Local 1833 Recording Secretary Mary Sansom and Minnesota State Council of Machinists president and Local 1833 member Lisa Stager (standing). Minnesota is one of 22 states that will be holding their primary election on February 5, 2008.

Increase in Union Members Highest in Decades

The number of U.S. workers belonging to unions rose to 15.7 million in 2007. That 311,000 gain was the largest single-year increase in union membership since 1983 when the government first started keeping track, according to a recent report by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Construction and health services showed the strongest growth, the report showed, and more women than men joined unions last year.

“In 2007, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $863 while those who were not represented by unions had median weekly earnings of $663,” said the report.

More and more workers want to join unions according to data from independent research firm Peter Hart Associates. In fact, some 60 million U.S. workers – more than half of all workers – say they would join a union if they could. But for many, employer intimidation and retaliation keep them from having a voice on the job. This could change dramatically if the next Congress passes, and the new president signs, the Employee Free Choice Act, which will increase penalties for employer misconduct and make it easier for workers to organize.

Click here to read a summary of the BLS report, and here for the full report.

Register Now for Human Rights Class at WWW

The 2008 Basic Human Rights Class will be held on May 4-9, 2008, at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, Maryland.

“In our continuing commitment to civil and human rights for all IAM members throughout the United States and Canada, I strongly urge all lodges to participate in the Human Rights training,” said IP Buffenbarger.

The training provides practical information and guidance on how to establish a viable Human Rights Committee, as well as utilizing strategies to ensure that the committee operates in a proactive measure capable of assisting in the protection of our members’ civil and human rights.

Click here for more information and to download an application form.