iMail for Thursday, July 19, 2007


Free Book a Wealth of Information for Women

The Heinz Family Philanthropies and The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) have published “What Women Need to Know About Retirement,” a 78-page e-book, available free at www.womensretirement.org. The book contains information on retirement savings, Medicare, long-term care and features a chapter on unexpected events that is co-authored by Maria Cordone, Director of IAM Community Services and Retirees Department.

“Good planning can help a personal tragedy from becoming a financial disaster,” said Cordone, who co-wrote her chapter with WISER Chairman Jeffrey R. Lewis. “Nothing can prevent the tragedies in life. You can’t cheat death, accidents happen and not all jobs or marriages will last. No one can predict the future, but this book can help women plan for the unexpected and help to ensure they are protected no matter what lies ahead.”

Founded in 1996, WISER provides women with basic information about the obstacles they face in establishing long-term financial security. WISER also advocates changes that would reshape retirement policies that are a product of a bygone age when men were the primary bread winners and more employers offered traditional pension plans. Those changes include finding ways not to penalize women who sacrifice retirement benefits by taking time off to care for children or elderly relatives.

U.S. Labor Secretary Insults U.S. Workers

 In a recent issue of Parade magazine, Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Elaine Chao lectures American workers on how they can stop losing their jobs to foreign workers: “American employees must be punctual, dress appropriately and have good personal hygiene.”

In the article, “How Safe Is Your Job?” Chao says U.S workers could lose a job to a foreign worker not because he’s cheaper, but because he has better workplace skills and discipline. “They [American workers] need anger-management and conflict-resolution skills, and they have to be able to accept direction,” continued Chao.

This is the same Labor Secretary who led the fight to cut overtime pay in 2004, allowed meetings between DOL officials and anti-union consultants and virtually transformed the agency charged with protecting American workers’ rights into a compliant corporate lapdog. Chao even went after her own workforce when she attempted to outsource 250 DOL jobs to nonunion contractors.

Carr Named to Eastern Territory Communicator Post

Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr., announced the appointment of John Carr to the position of Communications Representative for the Eastern Territory effective August 1, 2007. Carr will take over for former Eastern Territory Communications Rep Jim Tyler and be assigned to the territory office in Cincinnati, OH.

“I have no doubt Brother Carr will be a great asset to the Eastern Territory,” said GVP Tucker. “The experience and skills he’s acquired on the shop floor, at bargaining tables and as a staff member of the IAM Communications Department will ensure our members will receive the expertise and the professional support they have every right to expect.”

Prior to joining the Communications Dept. at IAM Headquarters in 2004, Carr worked for US Airways and its predecessors since 1984. He became an IAM member in 1995 after the Machinists’ successful organizing drive for the carrier’s Fleet Service workers. As a member of Local 1725 in Charlotte, NC, Carr served as Shop Steward, Grievance Committee Chairperson, Vice President and Organizer for District 141. 

As an IAM representative, Carr contributed to the development of numerous award-winning local and district websites, taught web development classes at the WWW Center and established long-term relationships with representatives of the news media.

Non-union Lumber Mills Closing at a High Rate

Bucking a popular misconception about plant closures, non-union mills in the wood products sector are closing at a significantly higher rate than union-represented facilities. During the past few months, a number of non-union mills have announced significant curtailments and closures. These include: Woodgrain Millwork, White City, OR; Northcutt Woodworks, Crockett, TX; Rocky Mountain Forest Products, Laramie, WY; Tewa Mouldings, Albuquerque, NM and Southwoods-Arauco Lumber, Manning, SC.

“The fact is that non-union mills routinely close at a higher rate than union mills,” said Rod Kelty, Director of the IAMAW Woodworkers Department. “The presence of the union is a powerful force to increase productivity since union mills have lower turnover, have contracts that require apprenticeship and other forms of training, and tend to contribute to more professional Human Resource Departments. All of these combine to make union mills more productive, and in the long run, more profitable.”

In many rural communities, the loss of a facility has a devastating impact on local merchants and medical providers, and represents a significant loss of tax-based income for local community and county governments.

Higher union wages also contribute more dollars to the local economy since union workers can afford to purchase more goods and services. Likewise, union health and pension plans add considerable amounts of income to rural economies.

Bush Aims Veto Pen at Students, Children

The Bush Administration is once again threatening to turn its back on working families, offering up fresh veto threats to bills that would lower student loan rates and provide more expansive health insurance for children.

The House last week passed the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, legislation that would make college more affordable for middle and low-income families by boosting financial aid by about $18 billion over the next five years and cutting federal subsidies to lenders.

With the Senate set to take up similar legislation in the coming weeks, the White House was quick to say they would kill the student loan relief bill. “This is a big victory for students and families across America who face rising college costs. The time to put the needs of students ahead of the profits of the banks is long overdue.  I look forward to passage of similar legislation in the Senate this month,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Congress and the Bush Administration have also been clashing over the decade-old State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is set to expire this year. The $5 billion a year program currently serves 6.6 million children.

Both House and Senate lawmakers are proposing additional funds for the program in order to help more children of the working poor, a move the administration says they would strongly oppose.

Rowland Matthews, 91 and Going Strong

World War I was sweeping across Europe when retired TCU-IAM member Rowland Matthews was born in 1916. Since then, he’s lived through the Great Depression, survived World War II and seen more presidents than most. As a rail worker and long-time union representative on the Erie Railroad, Matthews watched as steam trains vanished and electric and diesel took their place. In short, Rowland Matthews knows things change.

The communication revolution hasn’t escaped Matthew’s attention either. As newspapers steadily lost readers to the web-based publications, Matthews looked beyond the traditional letters-to-the-editor venue as a means to express himself. Matthew’s latest project is a personal web page at www.saveamericamanifesto.com where he posts letters, photos, opinions and links to news articles he just wants to share. “I’ve got nothing to lose,” says the feisty resident of Bath, NY, who isn’t shy about expressing himself on politics, politicians, global warming, health care and foreign aid.

Rowland Matthews is a standout example of a growing number of people, young and old, who are redefining the internet. Personal websites, blogs, YouTube videos and RSS feeds are just several developments that are transforming how groups, organizations and individuals are making the web work for them.