iMail for Thursday, July 31, 2008


Boeing Gets an Earful

IAM leaders urged Boeing Company officials to think twice before proposing a substandard contract offer for 26,000 Machinists in Washington, Kansas and Oregon, who assemble the company’s commercial aircraft, including the next generation 787 Dreamliner.

Speaking on a conference call for investors and journalists that was co-sponsored by the IAM and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IAM Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin warned that Boeing’s current position at the bargaining table will need to improve considerably to avoid a strike. “So far, all they are talking about are take-aways,” said Blondin, who leads the IAM’s Bargaining Committee. “If that continues over the next couple of week, they’re in deep trouble.”

The IAM struck Boeing for 28 days in 2005 over a divisive contract offer that failed to acknowledge the surge in profits and aircraft orders Boeing was experiencing. Despite current delays due to Boeing’s global outsourcing strategy, the company remains awash in orders and profits.

The goal of the current negotiations remains a contract that can be ratified, and a company that continues to thrive, rather than a strike. “We want to ensure that we come out of these negotiations with something that is going to be good for us, good for the company and good for the future – not only in Seattle, Wichita and Portland, but good for America,” said Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, who moderated the call.

The conference call included the IAM, SPEEA and more than fifty Wall Street analysts, investment managers and pension fund representatives. Together, the IAM and SPEEA represent more than 50,000 employees at Boeing.

“This round of negotiations is shaping up to be particularly critical for the future direction of Boeing,” said David White, IAM Assistant Director of Strategic Resources, who pointed out that three of the last four contract cycles for IAM and SPEEA resulted in strikes at Boeing. “Our members have delivered for management. Now its time for Mr. McNerney and his executive team to acknowledge this contribution.”

To hear a replay of the hour-long forum, call 1-800-475-6701, passcode: 955367.


IAM Members Killed in Wisconsin Paper Mill Blast

Two members of Local 1713, District W-3, were killed this week when a six-story high storage tank exploded at a paper mill in northern Wisconsin.
 
The explosion took the lives of 34-year member Steve Voermans and 31-year member Randy Hoegger, 56, who were performing maintenance on top of the tank used to store recycled fibers. Also killed in the explosion was 46-year old Donald Snyder, a production superintendent at the facility. A fourth employee, Alex Loka, who just became an IAM member, was working at the base of the tank when the blast occurred. He was treated for injuries at a local hospital and released.

“Every effort will be made to uncover the cause of this deadly explosion, but at this time our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the workers who were killed and injured,” said Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski. “More than 5,000 workers die every year in workplace accidents, but each one is a heartbreaking reminder of how lethal our workplaces can suddenly become.”
 
IAM Health and Safety personnel will take part in the investigation to determine the cause of the explosion, while the IAM Community Services Department has already dispatched Certified Employee Assistance Program personnel to the scene to provide counseling and assistance for co-workers.

The mill where the explosion occurred is located in Tomahawk, WI, and owned by Packaging Corp. of America, which operates four paper mills and 67 corrugated product plants in 26 states.


Machinists Charge Hawker Beechcraft with Infringement

The IAM is filing Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over Hawker Beechcraft’s distribution of the company’s contract proposal that prominently displayed the IAM logo, implying union endorsement of the offer.

“We’re prepared to work closely with any company that deals honestly with us and respects its workforce,” declared IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Our members at Hawker Beechcraft are highly-skilled professionals that deserve better than secret plans to outsource their jobs to Mexico and deceitful tactics at the bargaining table.”

Negotiations between the IAM and Hawker Beechcraft ended on July 30, with union negotiators unanimously urging rejection of the company’s contract offer. The following morning, the company distributed the offer to workers, bearing the union logo.

“Hawker Beechcraft officials have crossed the line repeatedly in these negotiations,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge. “But the use of our logo to imply we approve of their inadequate offer is a new low.”

The union is also filing ULP charges on Hawker Beechcraft’s continued practice of threatening to discharge probationary employees who honor picket lines if a strike occurs.

“Threatening and deceiving employees and the public is the mark of a management team that needs a quick trip to the ethics woodshed,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “Senior management at Hawker Beechcraft should join us in condemning this latest outrage, lest they share the blame for its consequences.”

A vote on the company’s so-called “last, best and final” offer is scheduled for August 2, 2008. The current contract expires at midnight on August 3, 2008. Updates and additional information about the negotiations are available at www.beechworkersblog.blogspot.com, www.ll733iam.com, and www.ll2328.org.


Congress Warned of Possible Pension Defaults

The IAM warned Congress this week that a Delta Air Lines/Northwest Airlines merger would jeopardize workers’ pensions and the stability of the government’s pension insurance system.

“Northwest’s 12,500 IAM-represented employees are the only group at the airline with an active defined benefit pension plan,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., at a House Health, Education Labor and Pension Subcommittee hearing on the impact the proposed merger will have on workers. “Our members’ pension plan is at risk if the merger is approved.”

Noticeably absent from the hearing were the CEO’s of both companies. “The fact that Richard Anderson and Doug Steenland chose not to attend the only hearing that focused on the merger’s impact on employees shows how low a priority employees are in the merger,” said Roach. The airlines instead sent individuals who claimed they were unqualified to answer several of the Committee’s questions.

In addition to the potential loss of the current pension plan for Northwest’s 12,500 IAM members, the merger puts the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) into question.

If the combined giant airline fails and needs bankruptcy court protection, the frozen company-sponsored pension plans could be forced onto the PBGC. This would burden the PBGC with more than $15.6 billion in additional liabilities on top of its $13.1 billion deficit for fiscal year 2007.

“Northwest’s IAM-represented employees have enjoyed the benefits of a secure union work environment for more than 60 years,” said Roach. They labored for the day when they could retire with dignity and financial security. The ill-advised Delta-Northwest merger will jeopardize everything they have worked for while destroying two once-great airlines and threatening the solvency of our nation’s pension insurance agency.”
The IAM’s complete testimony is available at www.goiam.org/mergers


Last Chance for Reduced Rate Convention Rooms

August 1, 2008, is the cutoff date for reduced room rates at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort and Convention Center, where the IAM will hold the 37th Grand Lodge Convention on September 7-13, 2008.

“I would strongly urge any delegate who has not yet reserved their room to do so before August 1,” said GST Warren Mart. “Room rates after that date may be considerably higher than the reduced rate of $149 plus tax, which was negotiated for IAM delegates.”
Delegate registration will be at the Convention Center between the hours of 4:00 pm and 7 pm on Friday, September 5; between the hours of 8:00 am and 7 pm on Saturday, September 6; and between the hours of 8:00 am and noon on Sunday, September 7, 2008.

The Convention will convene at 2 pm on Sunday, September 7, 2008. It is suggested that delegates arrive in Orlando in advance of the opening of the Convention so that every delegate can be accredited.


CPS Workers in Montreal Choose IAM

For the second time in less than two months the IAM expanded its representation in the aerospace industry with a new application for certification for workers of CPS Industries, near Dorval Airport in Montreal, Quebec. The 70 newest members of IAM Local 712 specialize in machining components for the aerospace industry.

IAM District 11 signed a service contract with an independent union – Employees Association of CPS Industries on March 1, 2008. In preparation for bargaining, the Association’s officers and stewards participated in IAM training with IAM local lodge officers and stewards. Association representatives also met several times with IAM District 11 Business Representative Pierre Brisebois and President and Directing Business Representative David Chartrand and attended a general membership meeting.

“They learned about the IAM’s democratic way of doing business and professionalism of our District staff,” said Chartrand. “The IAM’s high level of knowledge about the aerospace industry is what convinced these members to join the Machinists. We are pleased to welcome them into the IAM and I am looking forward to bargaining their new Machinist contract with CPS Industries.”


GLR Lautar Named IAM National Pension Fund Coordinator

IP Tom Buffenbarger and GST Warren Mart are pleased to announce the appointment of Grand Lodge Representative James Lauter to become IAM National Pension Fund Coordinator for the IAM Grand Lodge.

As Coordinator, Lauter will be responsible for the coordination of all IAM National Pension Fund activities with respect to the promotion and negotiation of the IAM National Pension Fund for the IAM membership. The appointment is effective August 1, 2008.