iMail for Thursday June 15, 2006

Staff Conference Focuses on Organizing

More than 600 attendees at the IAM Staff Conference in Denver, CO, focused on ways to ramp up organizing efforts and honored IAM Locals and District that met organizng goals.

IP Tom Buffenbarger and GST Warren Mart delivered back-to-back presentations at the 2006 IAM Staff Conference in Denver, CO that focused on the unprecedented pressures facing labor unions in the U.S. and Canada. “Everyone, and I mean everyone in this room must immediately become an organizer for this union,” declared Buffenbarger, citing the loss of thousands of IAM members since 2001.

District and Local Lodges that met their pledge to organize at least 250 new members per year were honored with awards for successfully overcoming hostile union avoidance campaigns and a political environment that many described as the worst they have ever experienced.

Organizing Committee members from Local 10 in Richmond, VA were special guests at the conference and received a standing ovation for organizing 500 workers who make Trojan condoms at Church & Dwight in Richmond. “It can be done,” said Buffenbarger. “We have the means and the opportunities, and we certainly have the motive.” Members of Local 10 recently ratified a first contract with Church & Dwight, with improved pay, benefits and work rules for all employees there.

Three district lodges were presented with IAM Organizing Excellence Awards for meeting the goal of organizing 250 new members each year since 2003. They are District 4 in Brunswick, ME; District 160 in Seattle, WA and District 140 in St. Laurent, Quebec.

Additional awards were presented to districts and locals that organized an average of 200 new members each year since 2003.They are District 1 in Philadelphia, PA, Federal District 1 in Washington, DC, District 776 in Ft. Worth TX, Local 10 in Richmond, VA, Local 701 in Chicago, IL and District 78 in Toronto.

Recognized for successfully organizing at least 100 new members were District 15 in New York, NY, District 34 in Columbus, OH; District 60 in Southgate, MI , District 166 in Cape Canaveral, FL and District 11 in St. Laurent, Quebec.

Court Reinstates Retiree Benefits at Rexam

A California District Court gave a group of Rexam retirees a major victory when it ordered Rexam, the giant consumer packaging manufacturer, to reinstate retiree medical and prescription drug benefits that Rexam unilaterally terminated effective January 1, 2006. Rexam is one of many corporations across America pushing to drop retiree health benefits.

The court cited language in IAM contracts and benefit plan documents that promised retirees lifetime coverage. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken granted a request for a preliminary injunction against Rexam, ordered the company to “reinstate all medical and prescription drug benefit plans provided before January 1, 2006” and declared “Rexam is also enjoined from terminating the health benefits of any class member receiving or entitled to receive benefits under these plans.”

The court’s decision applies to IAM retirees from Rexam’s San Leandro or Modesto, CA; Kent or Vancouver, WA or Gary Indiana facilities. A similar suit covering other IAM Rexam retirees is pending in the District Court of Minnesota.

 

Winchester Workers Protest Unfair Imports

 At a press conference to protest job losses from China’s unfair trade advantages in front of the now-closed Winchester firearms plant in New Haven, Ct. From left, CT. AFL-CIO President John Olsen, CT AFL-CIO Sec.-Treas. Lori Pelletier, Local 609 President John Reynolds, Craig Gauthier of Winchester Ad-Hoc Committee, GrowJobsCT Director John Harrity, former Winchester employees Kerry Dawson and Larry Edwards and John Bauman, president of the Organization for the Rights of American Workers.

Cheap imports from China carried a high price for 186 members at the iconic Winchester rifle facility after parent company US Repeating arms closed the New Haven plant on March 31, 2006.

Former Winchester workers spoke out at a Connecticut AFL-CIO rally in support of an unfair trade practices petition filed by the AFL-CIO to force the Bush Administration to take action against China’s violation of workers’ rights. Those violations, including slave-labor conditions and extensive use of child labor, give China an unfair competitive advantage and cost millions of North American jobs. Under the Trade Act of 1974, the U.S. has the ability to take action against China, but the Bush Administration has refused to do so.

“March 31 was a very sad day; 186 jobs, that’s 186 families,” Local 609 President and 40-year Winchester employee John Reynolds told the New Haven Register. “We are looking for our representatives in Washington D.C. to do something.”

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has introduced legislation to stem the tide of manufacturing jobs going overseas and has urged the Bush Administration to take tougher action.

“The closure of the Winchester plant was a blow to both the generations of workers who were the backbone of the plant as well as the surrounding community,” DeLauro said. “Yet, the closure of this New Haven institution represents something much bigger — it is a symbol of the Bush Administration’s failed trade policies and its impact on families right here at home.”

“All these jobs going overseas, what is going on here?” asked 10-year Winchester employee Donald Harris. “Somewhere it has to stop.”

 

House Approves Additional Amtrak Funding

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 266-158 this week to increase Amtrak funding by $214 million. While still short of the total funding Amtrak needs to adequately maintain the nation’s passenger rail infrastructure or expand service, the extra money avoids the complete shutdown of Amtrak being pursued by the Bush Administration. Amtrak serves 25 million rail passengers and has nearly 20,000 employees.

The clear majority vote for the LaTourette-Oberstar amendment giving Amtrak more funds reflects support for rail service in America. Now, Congress should act to give Amtrak adequate funding to do more than barely survive each year.

Survey Shows Support for National Healthcare

A group mandated by Congress to find out what Americans want when it comes to health care has found a majority of Americans feel the federal government should guarantee that all Americans have basic health insurance coverage.

The findings are from an interim report from the 14-member Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, which went to 50 communities and heard from 23,000 people. The group will present their findings to the President and Congress after 90 days of public response. Five congressional committees will then hold hearings on the president’s response.

Give Union Made Gifts for Father’s Day

Last minute shoppers can find union-made-in-the-USA Father’s Day gifts from The Union Shop. Products ideal for Father’s Day include union made golf balls, polo shirts, watches and even books such as “Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government—And How We Take It Back” by David Sirota. Clickhere to find a perfect union-made gift for your dad on Father’s Day.

Members can also buy a variety of IAM-related products such as t-shirts, jackets, jewelry and caps — all emblazoned with the IAM logo by clicking here.