iMail for Thursday, July 2, 2009

Machinists Urge Far Reaching Industrial Policy

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) began a new chapter in its 121-year history with the installation of new officers, members of the Law Committee and delegates to the AFL-CIO and Canadian Labour Congress in a ceremony at IAM Headquarters in Upper Marlboro, MD.

The new Executive Council takes the helm during one of the greatest economic storms since the Great Depression and pledges aggressive action to reignite the economies in the United States and Canada and restore middle-class jobs.

“This leadership team knows the toll this mega-recession is taking on working families because they are talking to our members every day,” said IAM President R. Thomas Buffenbarger in a keynote address. “We intend to push for a second economic stimulus, one aimed at the manufacturing and transportation sectors,” said Buffenbarger. “Until this mega-recession ends and real, sustained, job-creating growth starts, JOBS Now! will be our primary focus.”

To reignite the fires of global economic job creation, Buffenbarger called for an industrial policy that included making credit available to smaller companies, offering investment tax credits, renovating older plants and giving laid-off workers the opportunity to upgrade their skills.

“We must embark upon the duties that we have pledged our sacred honor to do,” said Buffenbarger. “We must lead this great union of ours into a jobs-creating economic recovery, mentor a new generation of labor leaders, negotiate the industry-leading contracts that are the hallmark of our great union and fight like hell for our members’ fair share of the wealth created by their labors.”

Retired IAM International President George Kourpias administered the oath of office to the new Executive Council which includes IAM President R. Thomas Buffenbarger, General Secretary-Treasurer Warren L. Mart, Canadian GVP Dave Ritchie, Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr., Southern Territory GVP Robert Martinez, Jr., Headquarters GVP Richard Michalski, Midwest Territory GVP Philip J. Gruber and Western Territory GVP Gary Allen.

Also sworn in were Law Committee members Philip Zannella, Jr., James Beno, Stan Pickthall, Ellen Arbogast and Jeffery Goen; and Delegates to the AFL-CIO James Conigliaro, Shelley Kessler and Stephen Gordon. Angela Schira will serve as the Delegate to the Canadian Labour Congress.

Staff Changes in Eastern and Western Territories

IAM International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger announced three key staff changes. Effective July 1, 2009, Western Territory Special Representative Robert Martinez will be the Administrative Assistant for new Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen. Eastern Territory Administrative Assistant Dale Hartford will work with Guide Dogs of America (GDA) and become GDA director upon the retirement of current Director Jay Bormann. Grand Lodge Representative Bryan Bryant will be the new Eastern Territory Administrative Assistant.

Martinez joined IAM Local 933 in Tucson, AZ, in 1985 as an Electronic Technician at Hughes Aircraft (now Raytheon). He served in numerous positions in Local 1933 and was the Directing Business Representative when he joined the Western Territory Staff in 2007 as a Special Representative.

Hartford, a former marine engineer, joined IAM Local 1828 in 1982 after going to work for the S.D. Warren Paper Company in Skowhegan, ME, as a Millwright – Welder. He was the Directing Business Representative for District 99 when he joined the Eastern Territory staff as a Special Representative in 1986. He has served as the Eastern Territory Administrative Assistant since 2004.

Bryant joined Local Lodge S6 in 1989 as an employee of Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME. Bryant was Directing Business Representative of District Lodge 4 when he joined the Eastern Territory staff as a Special Representative in 2004.

“Congratulations to Brothers Martinez, Hartford and Bryant. They’re great trade unionists and will greatly help the IAM meet the challenges ahead as we fight to rebuild the North American economy,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “And without a doubt, Jay Bormann has done a tremendous job at Guide Dogs of America to improve the lives of blind and visually-impaired men and women in the United States and Canada.”

IAM Mourns Passing of Richard N. Brown

The IAM is mourning the passing of Richard N. Brown, President of IAM/National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Federal District 1. The 47-year-old labor leader died Wednesday in Arlington, VA.

Brown began his leadership in the union movement as president of NFFE Local 2109 in Watervliet , NY, where he worked manufacturing military ordinance for the U.S. Army.  He went on to serve as Vice President of NFFE before becoming President in 1998. As a machinist and descendant of a union family, Brown led 100,000 federal employees in more than 30 federal departments and agencies. He played a crucial role in the United Department of Defense Workers Coalition, fighting to shield Defense Department workers’ bargaining rights against threats from the Bush administration. NFFE affiliated with the IAM in 1990.

“Richard Brown was a devout advocate for federal workers,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Our labor family has truly lost a great man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Brown family.”

“His passion and dedication to the working families of the federal government was undeniable,” said Richard Michalski, General Vice President of IAM Headquarters. “His strength and tenacity truly will be missed.”

IAM District 8, Local 851 Wins Big in Arbitration

Michael Pesek, a member of Local Lodge 851 in Channahon, IL, was victorious in his arbitration case against Caterpillar Inc. for wrongful termination.  His award includes reinstatement and all back pay and benefits due under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement in place when he was dismissed in February 2008. 

“Pesek did a fantastic job in front of the arbitrator, and he exposed the company and the mistruths they spoke about him,” said District 8 Business Representative Carl Ullian. “How he could go from being an exemplary employee to being terminated without just cause baffled us all. The award could very well total in the area of $100,000.”

“I certainly would not be standing here today if not for the Machinists Union and the representation I received,” said Pesek. “Without a contract and the rights afforded me through that contract, the company could have terminated me and I would have no recourse to get my job back.  Thank you IAM, District 8, and Local Lodge 851 for all you did.”

Local 2783 Completes Bargaining Prep Class

In anticipation of bargaining a new agreement at the Trident Refit Facility in Kings Bay, GA, the twelve-member negotiating committee of Local Lodge 2783 completed an intense week of training at the William W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Center in Hollywood, MD.

Led by Harry Spafford, the President of LL 2783, the negotiating committee developed a strategic plan to carry them through the signing of a new agreement with the Department of the Navy. They began the process of identifying issues that need to be addressed. And valuing the input of the membership, they developed a survey to solicit the areas of concern from the bargaining unit.

The agenda for the week also included a bargaining simulation where the negotiating committee put their skills to the test. “Such preparation is critical in securing the best agreement possible for our membership,” explained Spafford.

“This committee is prepared to face any challenges that may come their way at the bargaining table,” said Frank Carelli, Director of the IAM Government Employee Dept. ”Their preparations will pay huge dividends for the membership.