iMail for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Machinists Reach Tentative Pact with General Electric

Four weeks after negotiations began in New York City, the IAM announced this week it would recommend ratification of a tentative agreement with General Electric Co. covering nearly 3,000 IAM members at GE locations in eight states.

Under the proposed contract, union members will receive four general wage increases and cost of living adjustments that will raise pay for average hourly workers at GE by 16 percent over the life of the contract.

The four-year contract also provides for an additional holiday, Veterans Day, and contains significant improvements in pensions and health care benefits. The tentative agreement also increases benefits for present retirees and provides for a reduction in the pay progression schedule for all active and future employees. Full details of the agreement will be provided to all members prior to ratification voting.

The IAM took part in the negotiations as a member of the Coordinated Bargaining Committee (CBC) of GE Unions, an 11-union coalition that includes the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA), the United Electrical Workers of America (UE), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the United Auto Workers (UAW); the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE); the United Steelworkers of America (USWA); Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA); the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT); the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices (UA); and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

 IAM Questions FAA Oversight of Aircraft Repair Stations

“Cutting back on food, pillows and other in-flight amenities is a business decision that only inconveniences passengers, but cutting costs in aircraft maintenance has serious safety implications,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., in testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of overseas aircraft repair stations.

“Airlines are utilizing these facilities to take advantage of low wages and lax regulations while there are many U.S. repair facilities available, including the state-of-the-art Indianapolis facility abandoned by United Airlines,” said Roach.

The IAM, which was the only airline employee union testifying at the Senate hearing, focused on the lack of FAA oversight of independent repair stations, the shortage of FAA inspectors and the disparity in regulations for workers in domestic and foreign aircraft repair stations.

“Our members have seen aircraft return from independent repair facilities with the flaps rigged improperly, engine fan blades installed backwards, improperly connected ducting that resulted in pressurization problems, airspeed indicator lines disconnected, inoperable thrust reversers and over-wing exit emergency slides deactivated,” said Roach. “These aircraft had all been deemed airworthy by the repair stations.

“There should be one standard for safety, security and FAA oversight at all aircraft repair facilities that perform work on U.S. aircraft, regardless of where those facilities are located,” said Roach. “This must include equivalent standards for criminal background checks, drug and alcohol testing and security at repair facilities.”

 Register Now for IAM Women’s Conference in October

The IAM Women’s Conference has been scheduled for October 10, 2007, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The one-day conference will be held in conjunction with the Coalition of Labor Union Women’s (CLUW) Biennial Convention being held October 11-13 at the same hotel.

Hotel reservations can be made by calling the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel at 1-800-732-2111. A block of rooms has been reserved at $135 for a single or double for both conferences. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis, and must be made by September 7, 2007.

If you plan to attend, please complete the registration form included with your official call letter, and return it to the IAM Women’s Department, 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772.

“We are excited about this year’s conferences,” said Women’s Department Director Cheryl Eastburn, “and we hope our IAM sisters come out in force. We’ll explore ways to increase women’s participation in IAM organizing drives and then we’ll discuss the issues surrounding working women and families at the CLUW Convention. These back-to-back meetings offer IAM sisters a wonderful opportunity to learn and share information that will grow our Union.”

 Score One for Canada’s Aircraft Technicians

An attempt by Air Canada Technical Services (ACTS) to use tax dollars to facilitate the transfer of aircraft repair work from Canada to a facility in El Salvador has been stymied and a key consultant forced to resign thanks to pressure from the IAM.

William Zoeller, a former CEO and special adviser to ACTS, will be resigning as executive director of the Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council, a publicly-funded agency charged with promoting a healthy aerospace industry in Canada.

The IAM has been pushing for Zoeller’s resignation, arguing that he is in a conflict of interest because his consulting work with ACTS in El Salvador goes counter to the council’s mandate.

The IAM produced documentation shows that Zoeller sent requests for proposals to community colleges across Canada to supply aviation maintenance instructors, curriculum, materials and other necessary resources to train up to three thousand aviation technicians in El Salvador. Once qualified, these students would work at the aircraft heavy-maintenance facility in El Salvador recently purchased by ACTS. 

“Our tax dollars paid for the curriculum, materials and the expertise of the instructors in our community colleges and now ACTS is asking these Canadian colleges to find seed money to fund the establishment of a training facility in El Salvador to steal Canadian jobs,” said Canadian GVP Dave Ritchie. “ACTS was attempting to strip the Canadian aviation-maintenance industry, and it was using taxpayers’ dollars to do it.”

Thousands Rally in D.C. for Organizing Rights

Just as Senate lawmakers began debating the Employee Free Choice Act on Tuesday, more than 4,500 union members gathered on Capitol Hill to show their support for the worker-friendly legislation.

You can view a video of the rally on the Machinists News Network where labor leaders and leading Congressional Democrats talk about the importance of the bill for working families.

The House passed the Employee Free Choice Act earlier this year by a vote of 241-185 and the Senate is expected to bring it up for a vote any day. The bill would enable workers to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by strengthening their rights to form unions.

With Senate Republicans and the Bush administration siding with big business in their opposition of the Employee Free Choice Act, it’s imperative working families voice their support of the bill before it’s too late.

 Just as Senate lawmakers began debating the Employee Free Choice Act on Tuesday, more than 4,500 union members gathered on Capitol Hill to show their support for the worker-friendly legislation.

You can view a video of the rally on the Machinists News Network where labor leaders and leading Congressional Democrats talk about the importance of the bill for working families.

Missouri Rights 60-Year Wrong for Public Employees

Calling the guidelines used in 1947 now “largely defunct,” the Missouri Supreme Court overturned a 60-year ruling that stated public-sector employees did not have a right to collectively bargain under the state’s Constitution. The Court also ruled that the state could no longer unilaterally rescind or modify agreements already reached with the employees’ representatives, overruling a 1982 case.

“It’s great to get a decision that is pro-worker,” said IAM Midwest General Vice President Phil Gruber. “It’s a huge victory for Missouri’s thousands of public-sector workers and for the labor movement.”

The case initiated in 2002 after the Independence, MO School Board unilaterally – and substantially – changed the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) they had previously-agreed upon with the transportation and support personnel unions and the teachers’ union. The three unions subsequently sued the school district.

A section of Missouri’s Constitution was in question. It reads that “employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.”

“‘Employees’ plainly means employees,” cited Chief Justice Michael A. Wolff, writing for the majority. “There is no adjective; there are no words that limit ‘employees’ to private-sector employees. The meaning of section 29 is clear and there is, accordingly, no authority for this Court to read into the Constitution words that are not there.”

Missouri becomes the 28th state to extend collective bargaining rights to both public and private-sector employees.