iMail for Thursday, June 22, 2006


Unions Win Big Victory for Federal Workers

Civilian workers in the Defense Department facing the Bush administration’s relentless campaign to cut pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights can thank their unions for successfully lobbying Congress for an amendment to block anti-worker elements in the National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

The amendment, HR 5631, sponsored by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Walter Jones (R-NC), was approved this week in the House of Representatives by a voice vote. The amendment became part of the Defense Appropriations bill (HR 5631), which passed by a vote of 407-19. The Inslee/Van Hollen amendment calls for defunding sections of the NSPS recently deemed illegal by Judge Emmett G. Sullivan in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

“This is a great victory for federal workers, but it’s an important win for union workers in the private sector as well,” said Frank Carelli, Director of IAM Government Employees Department. “The Bush administration fully intended to expand the use of national security as an excuse for its assault on collective bargaining rights, both inside and outside the federal government.”

The NSPS was authorized by Congress in the aftermath of 9-11.The new NSPS regulations, as drafted by the Secretary of Defense and the Bush administration continue to exceed the authorizing language passed by Congress and were inconsistent with congressional intent, particularly regarding the right of Defense Department workers to engage in true collective bargaining.

The fight to protect workers’ rights in the federal government now moves to the Senate, where unions representing federal workers will lobby for language to block the politically motivated assault on collective bargaining rights. For more information, go to:

GOP Kills Minimum Wage Hike

Senate Republicans this week defeated a proposal by Democrats to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade. The amendment, which was attached to a defense authorization bill by Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), would have gradually increased the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour by 2009.

The 52-46 vote was eight short of the 60 needed for approval under budget rules and came just one week after a House vote gave Congress a $3,300 “cost of living adjustment” that will raise Congressional pay to $168,500 a year. Since 1997, Congress has voted itself nine pay raises totaling nearly $35,000.

Workers currently receiving the minimum wage earn only $10,712 a year, well below the poverty line for a family of three. In fact, a joint study the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released yesterday shows since 1997 the buying power of the minimum wage has plummeted 20 percent to a 51-year low.

Despite soaring consumer costs such as gas prices and housing, yesterday’s Senate vote was the ninth time since 1997 Republicans have defeated efforts by Democrats to win workers an increase in the minimum wage.


Nebraska Nurses Seek IAM Representation

Nurses in Lincoln, Nebraska, are joining together under the banner of the Capitol City Nurses Association to win an IAM contract that protects their profession, their patients and their careers.

In addition to basic wages and benefits, the nurses are seeking an opportunity to negotiate contract language that clarifies work rules, scheduling, advancement opportunities and overtime policies.

As front line caregivers in the Lincoln area, the nurses have declared patient care will be their primary concern. They also believe joint decision making will help them be more productive and run their facilities in a more efficient and cost effective manner.

The nurses’ campaign to win professional representation and a voice at work includes traditional organizing meetings as well as billboards in Lincoln and a special website that explains how a good contract can provide benefits for patients, hospitals and health care professionals.

The IAM represents hundreds of nurses, first responders and health care professionals at hospitals, in municipalities and veterans’ care facilities around the country. “We’re extremely proud of the work these men and women do,” said Midwest Territory GVP James E. Brown. “They deserve to be treated with the same respect they have for their jobs and their patients.”


Foster Farms Campaign Needs Your Help

Despite a series of Unfair Labor Practice charges and multiple rulings by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Federal District Court of Fresno, Foster Farms of Livingston, CA continues to ignore the law. After nearly a year of bitter frustration, including mass walkouts by workers over safety violations, the company finally met with the workers, but rejected every proposal submitted, including language that was exactly like that in contracts already in place at other Foster Farms facilities.  

“The battles began as soon as the workers voted by a whopping 97 percent margin to join the IAM,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “Foster Farms initially took the position that they could ignore the results of the vote. The NLRB and the courts disagreed.  Now, after a year, we are still trying to get this group of nearly 2,400 new members a contract.  They have been through a lot, they fought like heck to get a union, and they aren’t giving up; despite the bully tactics of the billion-dollar company.”

 In a series of newspaper advertisements and radio spots, the IAM is calling on union members in Central California and nationwide to get involved in the fight.  You can help by calling  1-800-255-7227 . Tell Foster Farms how you feel about employers who break the law, mistreat employees and refuse to recognize democratically-elected worker representatives.


Abramoff Scandal Sinks White House Aide

In the first Abramoff-related corruption case to go to a full trial, a federal jury convicted former White House aide David H. Safavian of lying and obstructing justice. Safavian was a former chief procurement officer at the White House and earlier served as the chief of staff of the General Services Administration (GSA). He is the highest-ranking government official convicted so far in the Abramoff corruption scandal.

Safavian was found guilty of covering up his efforts while at GSA to help Abramoff buy two GSA-administered properties, one of which Abramoff planned to develop into a luxury hotel for an Indian tribe client. He was also convicted of concealing facts about a lavish golf trip to Scotland.

Joining Abramoff and Safavian on the 2002 golf trip were GOP Congressman Robert Ney of Ohio, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed and former Abramoff associate Neil Volz. Prosecutors at Safavian’s trial said that hotel rooms for the trip were between $400 and $500 per night and greens fees were $400 per game at St. Andrews golf course. The cost of chartering a jet for the trip was at least $91,000.

Volz and Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges and Ney is under intense scrutiny by federal prosecutors. Until he resigned just days before his arrest last September, Safavian was working on Katrina relief efforts as the White House’s chief procurement policy officer. Safavian was a former lobbying partner heavyweight GOP-activist Grover Norquist. He had also worked with Abramoff at another lobbying firm and was a former congressional aide.


Cliff Miller to Join HPWO Department

Long time IAM activist and current District W2 Business Representative Cliff Miller will join the IAM’s High Performance Work Organization (HPWO) as a Special Representative, effective July 1, 2006.

Miller, an IAM member since 1982, has served as Shop Steward, Recording Secretary and President of Local 108 in Concord, North Carolina before being appointed Business Representative in 1998 for District W2. In addition to his IAM duties, Cliff has also presided over the Central North Carolina Labor Council for six years and served as Vice President of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO for the 8 th Congressional District.


Canadian Organizing Wins

A group of security guards employed by Hawthorne Security in Arnprior, Ontario voted 100 percent to join the IAM. The new members provide security services for Arnprior Aerospace Inc., whose workers are members of IAM Local 1542.

“These people have not had a raise in several years,” said District 78 Organizer Scott Jackson. “Working alongside members of Local 1542, the guards gained firsthand knowledge of the benefits of IAM representation and organizing them was a natural fit.”

In another Canadian organizing win, teamwork between District 140 and District 78 produced 48 new members employed by the Howard Marten Co., of Pickering, Ontario. “We heard through a lead from District 140 Organizer Ian Morland that the workers at Howard Marten were seeking union representation,” said Jackson. “They turned to the Machinists for help in addressing issues of seniority and fairness in the workplace.”

The new IAM members include pipe welders, service technicians, assemblers and painters who manufacture and service lubrication and fluid systems for a wide variety of companies in the food, aerospace, mining and power generation sectors.

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