iMail for Thursday, June 07, 2007

Machinists Seek U.S. Manufacturing Policy

International President Tom Buffenbarger addressed the Senate Democratic Steering Committee this week and urged lawmakers to treat the nation’s manufacturing crisis like an economic epidemic.

“We cannot afford to be anesthetized by incremental improvements in one index or another,” said Buffenbarger. “Since 1999, we have lost over 43,000 manufacturing plants and more than 3.2 million good-paying American jobs. No economy can continue to absorb that kind of damage and hope to survive.”

Buffenbarger spoke at the “Open Discussion on American Manufacturing,” a daylong policy summit hosted by the Senate Democratic Steering Committee.

“I urge the Committee to lay the foundation for a national industrial policy that will put the brakes on this epidemic of job losses. We need tax incentives for renovating and retooling older factories. We need an alternative to college for high school graduates that provides the skills needed to compete in the global economy, and we desperately need to put a tourniquet on trade deals and tax breaks that are killing jobs and hope for so many American families.”

Buffenbarger cited polling by the IAM in core manufacturing states where more than four-fifths of respondents supported the establishment of an industrial policy. Seven out of ten respondents in the same poll said they would forgo a future tax cut if they could see real investment in job creation programs.

“There have already been far too many casualties to ignore this problem any longer,” said Buffenbarger. “The last election was an urgent wake up call for action on a number of fronts. Hitting the snooze button on the creation of a manufacturing policy should not be an option.”

Spokane Members Vote to End Triumph Strike

Better wage rates for new hires, an increase in the lump-sum payment for senior employees and a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) are some of the reasons why members voted 238-111 to ratify a new contract at Triumph Composite Systems Inc., ending a strike that began on June 1. The members of District 751, who manufacture floor panels and air-control systems for Boeing and Airbus aircraft, also won improved recall and seniority rights.

District 751 President Tom Wroblewski credited membership solidarity for the new offer. “The members were united and determined, which brought the company back to the table with a new proposal that met the members’ expectations.”

The contract includes annual wage increases, a Gain Sharing Plan valued at approximately $4,800 and a substantial increase in the employers contribution to the IAM National Pension Plan, from $1.25 in the first year to $1.55 in the third year of the contract.

“The membership did the right things to get the job done,” said Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin. “They can hold their heads high knowing they made the difference. I commend the membership, District 751 DBR Tom Wroblewski and the entire bargaining committee for a fine job.”

Into the Wild: NPR Goes Fishing with IAM Members

When National Public Radio (NPR) contacted the IAM several months ago for help on a program about union members who enjoy fishing, hunting and outdoor sports, they may have got more than they bargained for.

Before the interview with District 4 members Sheila Merrow, Ronny Wallace and Dan Loudermilk was over, the wide-eyed correspondent for NPR’s weekly environmental affairs program found himself huddled in a small wooden shack on a frozen bay in Dresden, Maine, watching seasoned fishermen bite the heads off freshly caught smelts.

“It might not be everyone’s idea of a weekend in the woods but it would be hard to get any closer to nature,” opined NPR’s Ian Gray, who profiled the IAM members as part of a larger story about the Union Sportsman’s Alliance (USA), an organization created to preserve access to hunting and fishing areas for union members.

Merrow, Wallace and Loudermilk are all employees at Bath Iron Works in Portsmouth Maine, where outdoor sports are a way of life for many members. “You can’t walk down the production line without seeing pictures of either the fellas or the girls at the yard of what they got this hunting season or last hunting season,” said Merrow. “Some have a whole wall of all their catches whether it’s fish or deer or bear.”

According to AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka, who is also interviewed in the NPR story, the Union Sportsman’s Alliance is a logical extension of the AFL-CIO’s work with the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) an alliance of 20 AFL-CIO unions with more than three million members. “We asked our members what they thought about the labor movement getting involved with a conservation group and about 70 percent said not only would they like to get involved but they’d like to join a group that’s sponsored by their union who can help us create habitat for the sports they like.”

For more information about the TRCP and how to become a member of USA, visit the TRCP website or go to Click here to hear the NPR program featuring IAM members.Oregon Log Truckers Seek Bargaining Rights

Oregon Log Truckers Seek Bargaining Rights

The effort by Machinists and a log trucker’s cooperative in Oregon to bring full collective bargaining rights to independent log truckers is back on the fast track with legislation that will allow the workers to bargain over wages, mileage rates and safety issues. Oregon state law currently prohibits collective bargaining to establish hauling rates for the state’s approximately 2,700 truckers.

The Oregon Log Trucker bill, HB 3561, will enable the log truck drivers’ cooperative to meet with the state’s largest commercial forest land owners and discuss wages and benefits to ensure timber-dependent communities have sufficient income and a decent standard of living.

“HB 3561 is vital to the future of Oregon’s log-trucking sector,” said Rod Kelty, Director of the IAM Woodworkers Department. “The situation is getting worse with the rising price of fuel. If rural communities in Oregon are to survive, the loggers will need a means to negotiate.”

The log truckers are currently being held hostage by large corporate entities that shift their increased costs onto the truck drivers while refusing to pay for health care and pensions.

IAM members in Oregon can help the truckers win the right to bargain by sending an urgent message to their lawmakers and urge them to support HB 3561.

St. Louis Local 777 Sponsors ‘Night at the Races’

Automotive Lodge 777 in St. Louis, MO held their annual “Machinists Night at the Races” recently at the I-55 Raceway in Pevely. The lodge sponsors the races and in return receives a billboard that reads “Race to Join the Proud Mechanics of Machinists Union Local 777,” which hangs inside the track all year long, an organizing booth that’s provided all year long and tickets for their members and families on Local 777’s night. Members and officers of the lodge volunteer to staff the organizing booth.

The event has been a great success both in acquiring organizing leads and promoting the Machinists Union to the fans at the track. During the race, announcers constantly spoke of Automotive Lodge 777 of the Machinists Union as the race sponsor for the evening. Upon entering the grounds, race fans walk right past the Lodge 777 booth before reaching their seats.

“They have really stepped up to the plate when it comes to organizing,” said Midwest Territory GVP Phil Gruber. “This effort at the race track promotes the IAM with banners, handbills, announcements and a billboard. We reach potential new members in two ways: From an organizing perspective and from reaching out to youth who are our members of the future. It truly is a great way to showcase our Union,” said Gruber.

JFK Plot Prompts Homeland Security Message

The recent arrests of three men in connection with an alleged plot to destroy fuel pipelines at JFK International Airport prompted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief Intelligence Officer to issue the following statement regarding the arrests:

“There is no credible intelligence to suggest an imminent threat to the homeland at this time, and there are no adjustments to our security posture being made as a result of this plot. We consider this plot to have been credible with an intent to commit acts of violence, but not yet fully operational. DHS Intelligence and components worked closely with the FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence community partners throughout the investigation and disruption of this plot. We continue to work with our Federal and local partners and will provide updates as appropriate.”

“We appreciate the DHS providing us with this information,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Maintaining an open line of communication is a critical part of our working relationship with TSA and DHS.”