iMail for Thursday, July 03, 2008

Midwest Territory Scores Major Organizing Win 

Workers who build aerial work platforms for Snorkel International, Inc., in Elwood and Wathena, Kansas, voted for IAM representation in an election held on June 27, 2008. There are approximately 400 workers in the bargaining unit.

“These workers bonded as a team and stood strong in their fight to gain the ability to negotiate improvements in wages, benefits and working conditions,” said Midwest Territory GLR Luther Williams who led the campaign. “They overcame every obstacle that they were confronted with in a most dignified manner. They attended organizing team meetings, they hand-billed at the plant, they communicated on a daily basis and enjoyed full participation in this campaign. Their diligence to obtain respect and dignity in their workplace is exceptional, and is responsible for their election victory.”

“This was a complete team organizing effort with Territory Organizing Leader Steve Nickel, GLR Luther Williams, Apprentice Organizer Brian Jarvensivu, Local 778 Directing Busniess Rep. Joe Capra and Local 778 Organizer Howard Brown,” said Midwest Territory GVP Philip J. Gruber. “They should all be commended for their dedication in helping these workers.”

Brazil to Invest Heavily in Skills Training

The architects of Brazil’s booming aircraft industry are learning it’s not enough to lure U.S. and Canadian aerospace companies with promises of cheap labor and minimal government oversight. The shortage of skilled labor in Brazil is fast becoming a major drag on the largely imported industry, with aircraft machinists, electricians and assemblers in short supply.

The response has been a multi-billion dollar campaign to train Brazilian workers in the mechanical, electrical and machining skills needed in the aerospace industry. A typical program is underway at plane-maker Embraer, which has doubled in size over the past ten years and plans to spend $45,000 per student in a program designed to turn out aerospace workers who can then hand their skills down to successive generations.

If that type of legacy skills development sounds familiar, it should. For nearly a century, workers in the U.S. and Canada trained generations of workers in the precision skills needed to sustain an industry like aircraft assembly. Only when North American companies began to move production overseas did the domestic supply of trained, experienced workers begin to evaporate.

The ironic result of this development is that the U.S. and Canada must now invest heavily in high-tech skills training if they expect to compete for jobs that will no longer go automatically to the country with the lowest wages, but to the country with the best trained workforce.

“The decision to protect a critical domestic industry like aerospace must be a public policy decision,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger about the looming skills race. “The first step is to realize how much we stand to lose if we fail to act quickly. Reviving apprentice programs, investing in high-tech institutes and promoting skilled trades as a career choice at the high school level are all steps we can and should take right now.”

The lack of vocational and technical training opportunities prompted the IAM to launch “America’s Edge; Our Skills, Our Kids,” an issues initiative designed to draw attention to the growing skills crisis. More information about America’s Edge is available on the IAM website at

Arizona Member Publishes ‘Stories for Emily’

When Arizona Local 933 member Paulette Cleveland learned that her one-year-old niece had been diagnosed with leukemia, she did what Fighting Machinists are known for – she took action.

Cleveland’s two-year labor of love is a recently published compilation of stories written by children and titled Stories for Emily. With help from 77 schools throughout Arizona, Cleveland collected a heartfelt array of tales about how children face and overcome illness and adversity.
Proceeds from the book will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which has provided support for Emily’s treatment.  St. Jude’s, based in Memphis, TN, is internationally recognized for its work in childhood cancer and catastrophic disease treatment.  Families without insurance are never turned away, and those with insurance are not asked to pay for what insurance does not cover. 

Purchasing Stories for Emily is one way to help – but there is another: “Get tested to be a bone marrow donor,” urges Cleveland.  “It’s very simple and the majority of donations do not involve surgery.  It could help save someone’s life.”

Emily, now three years old, recently received a bone marrow donation at City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California – just in the nick of time. To learn more about the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry visit ‘Stories for Emily’is available on-line and at various retailers nationwide.

Ontario Machinists Benefit from Mining Boom

A surging Canadian mining industry is paying dividends for 220 members of Local 2412 in North Bay, ON, who recently ratified a new three-year contract with Boart Longyear. “Our membership has tripled in size over the life of the last agreement because of the continual demand for drilling and exploration equipment by the Canadian mining industry,” said GLR Pat Murphy. “This agreement reflects the success the company has enjoyed.”

The three-year agreement provides wage increases of three per cent in the first year, retroactive to May 1, 2008, three per cent in the second year and three per cent in the third year. Other improvements include increases in shift premiums and improvements to dental and vision coverage for members and their families. Vacations and pension benefits were also improved.

The members of Local 2412 manufacture ‘down-hole’ drilling equipment for the Canadian mining industry.

Members at Mercury Marine Ratify Contract

More than 1,500 members of Local 1947 in Fond Du Lac, WI, voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new four-year contract with Mercury Marine this past weekend.

The contract ratification, which comes during harsh times, provides members with a boost in pay each year, only a slight “bump up” in insurance costs and a $15,000 buyout offer for 150 senior workers.

Local 1947 had initially suspended contract talks in April, with members voting to authorize a strike if necessary. Members at Mercury Marine manufacture world-class marine propulsion products.