iMail for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Picket Lines Go Up at Kennedy Space Center

Members of Local Lodge 2061 and District 166 who perform Space Shuttle support duties for the United Space Alliance (USA) walked off the job today after USA management proposed a substandard contract offer. The USA is a joint venture formed by Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company to provide launch services to NASA.

“The United Space Alliance refused to change the offer,” said Local 2061 President Lew Jamieson. “We did everything we could to come to an agreement. Enough is enough – we won’t accept a substandard contract.”

Local 2061 members voted to reject a contract offer by a 93% margin and authorize a strike on June 2.

At the end of a  five-day cooling off period, a Federal Mediator brought both sides back together, but when the company offer remained unchanged, the negotiating committee quickly called the strike.

“The Space Shuttle is an important program, and there was no good reason for United Space Alliance to force a strike now,” said Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis. “It’s unfortunate that it appears outside influences that should have remained neutral, have interfered in the arm’s length negotiations between the Machinists and United Space Alliance.”



Local 1784 Retirees Prevail in Pension Dispute

More than four dozen retirees from Memorial Local 1784 in Baltimore, MD, are reaping the benefits of a five-year IAM legal battle to ensure retirees received the full amount of a special lump sum provision contained in their pension plan.

The retirees, former employees at three separate factories opera ted by Pittsburgh, PA-based Koppers Co., were eligible for a special lump sum payment upon retirement. The amount each member would receive varied, depending on a complica ted formula that factored job classification, seniority and overtime worked.

A former president of Local 1784, Steve Duffett, realized retirees might not be getting the full amount they were entitled to and began contacting other retirees, company representatives, pension plan administrators and the IAM Eastern Territory.

The effort continued for almost five years, with extensive outreach by Local 1784 officials to locate all eligible retirees and to determine the correct amounts they were entitled to. Improper calculations by company officials and pension plan administrators resul ted in some retirees being shortchanged by more than $1,000. More than $36,500 has been paid to retirees to correct improper payouts.

“The tireless efforts by former president Steve Duffett and current president Mark Rivers is a testament to what the IAM does for its members, even after they retire,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “With help from GLR Jim Lautar and guidance from IAM General Counsel Allison Beck and much heavy lifting by Jim Beall of Willig, Williams and Davidson, we were able to overcome miles of red tape and get our members what they deserved. I extend my thanks and appreciation to everyone involved.”

Northwest IAM Members Start Earning IAM Pension Benefits

Northwest Airlines, now operating outside bankruptcy protection, will begin making payments into the IAM National Pension Plan (NPP), effective June 1, 2007, for IAM members at the carrier. The payments are in accordance with the IAM-negotia ted collective bargaining agreements with the carrier. The NPP will be sending information directly to Northwest IAM members. Additional plan information is available at www.iamnpf.org.

“This achievement was made possible because of the membership’s solidarity and the difficult decisions made while the airline was in bankruptcy,” said District 143 President and Directing General Chairperson Stephen Gordon.

IAM members are the only Northwest Airlines employees who still earn pension benefits in a federally-guaranteed, secure pension plan. IAM members at Northwest join IAM members at US Airways, Uni ted Airlines and Aloha Airlines who have the distinction of being the only workers at those carriers who still have a defined benefit pension.

“Surviving bankruptcy with a guaranteed pension is a unique benefit of IAM membership; one other airline employees wish they had,” said Transportation General Vice President Robert Roach, Jr.

Delta ‘Groomers’ in Toronto Join Machinists

Aircraft groomers employed by Delta Facilities Maintenance at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Ontario, were not about to let language become a barrier to joining the IAM.

“This marks the first time we have organized a new group of workers through the heavy use of Spanish translators to get our message across,” explained Ian Morland, IAM District 140 Organizer. Working in the early morning hours, Morland was successful in signing up the vast majority of the workers over a three-day period. “Through our translator, Anna Maria Lima, workers told us of their concerns over numerous equipment safety violations and poor management. They overwhelmingly turned to us for help.”

The 43 new members of Local 2323 perform deep interior cleaning and exterior aircraft washing for the WestJet fleet. The members will now elect their first union bargaining team in preparation for their first contract negotiations.

IAM Family Members Win Union Plus Scholarship

Two IAM family members are among the winners of the 2007 Union Plus Scholarship Awards Program. Out of 5,500 applicants this year, the program awarded 103 students a total of $150,000 in scholarships.

The IAM family winners are Raymond Zuniga, son of Felipe Valdovino, a member of Local 356 in Kansas City, KS, and Karen Nakaoka, whose husband, Niles, is a member of Local 1245 in Honolulu, HI.

Union Plus Scholarship applicants are evaluated according to academic ability, character, leadership, financial need and appreciation of labor.

Applications for next year’s awards will be available in September 2007. To download the application at that time, and for further information on the Union Plus Scholarship Program, go to http://www.unionplus.org and click on the “Education Services” button.

IAM Pro-Street Bike Heads for Ohio

Local Lodge 1297 in Ashland, OH will conduct their 16th Annual “Ride For The Guide” on Saturday, June 23, 2007, and the IAM custom Pro-Street bike will be there! This unique bike, built as a fundraiser for Guide Dogs of America http://www.guidedogsofamerica.org (GDA), is touring the nation to give the public an opportunity to see the spectacular bike.

The 100-mile “Ride For The Guide” will start at the Pentair Water (F.E. Myers) parking lot off 9th Street in Ashland, and finish at the Country State Music Park, 40A Twp. Road 1031 in Nova, OH. If you plan to participate, be sure to check out the IAM-made bike on display. Contact GDA reps Grace or Steve Cohan at 818-822-9274 for further information.

This one-of-a-kind motorcycle will be raffled off at GDA’s annual banquet on November 17, 2007 (winner need not be present). You can get more information about the bike and see how it was built by going to http://iamawbikebuild.com. All proceeds from this fundraising effort will go directly to Guide Dogs of America for their mission to provide professionally-trained guide dogs to blind and visually-impaired individuals at no cost.