Leaders from twenty-three U.S. labor unions, representing three-fifths of the AFL-CIO, took part this week in a two-day conference organized by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to consider changes that would dramatically reshape and revitalize the 54-year-old AFL-CIO. “We focused on systemic changes that would strengthen the labor federation’s finances and increase its clout,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “We discussed a range of changes needed to modernize and upgrade existing capacities. We tallied up the current expenses and matched them to projected revenues. And, we sought to reassert the historic role of the Executive Council.
“These draft blueprints still need some work,” acknowledged Buffenbarger. “Over the next few weeks, we will seek input from the unions who could not join us. “The most controversial measure would hold elected officials accountable by boycotting their re-election campaigns if their positions fail to support workers and their families. Also under consideration is a massive advocacy campaign aimed at creating jobs for the 28.3 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or involuntarily working part-time.
Buffenbarger said that “these systemic changes will lead to a more focused and more powerful Federation.”
The IAM and other unions intend to proffer a series of resolutions and constitutional amendments that, if adopted by the AFL-CIO Convention in September, will guide the proposed changes.
Members of Local 906 in Santa Ana, CA, will meet with federal mediators and representatives of Cytec Industries on June 16 in an effort to resolve the strike at the Anaheim, CA, facility that began on May 11, 2009.
Among the issues that led members to vote overwhelmingly to reject the company’s final offer on May 7 was a proposal that would exempt Cytec from a California state law requiring overtime pay for any employee working more than eight hours in a single shift.
“The eight-hour work day is not something to be treated lightly nor is it ours to bargain away,” said Local 906 Chief Shop Steward Young Ho, who also serves on the union’s bargaining committee. “It is part of the living legacy from generations of union members who sacrificed and sometimes died for the benefits we enjoy today.”
In addition to 12-hour shifts and 60-hour work weeks, the company also sought contract language that would erase all past grievance settlements and forbid their use as precedents to resolve future disputes.
“The use of precedents is the foundation of the U.S. legal system and has long been the central ingredient of successful labor-management relationships,” said IAM Western Territory Vice President-elect Gary Allen. “It would be a mistake to abandon a practice that provides stability and due process for both workers and management.”
Additional information about the strike and updates on the negotiations can be found on the District 725 website at http://iam725.org/cytec_strike_information.htm.
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced plans to use stimulus money to train workers for green jobs.
At a meeting of the Middle Class Task Force in Denver, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said that $500 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be used to jumpstart careers in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. That sum also includes $50 million which will be used to assist communities battered by the restructuring of the auto industry. The initiative is all part of President Obama’s $4 billion plan to make public housing buildings more energy efficient, as outlined in his stimulus bill.
The task force, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, has been working to create policies and initiatives to help improve the standards of living for today’s middle class – those most affected by the poor economy.
The money will be made available in the form of grants. Bidding is expected to begin next month, with application deadlines in late summer and grants being issued in November.
For more on information, visit www.astrongmiddleclass.gov
The IAM Midwest Territory held their first annual weekend of fundraising events in May to benefit Guide Dogs of America. Guide Dogs of America (GDA) is an independent charitable organization founded by an IAM member 60 years ago that provides professionally trained dogs to blind and visually impaired individuals free of charge.
The weekend began with a Motorcycle Poker Run that started at IAM District 837 hall in Hazelwood, MO. Over 60 riders and guests from Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa participated in the Poker Run that traveled through the scenic wine country of Missouri.
Following the Poker Run, many union members, guest and retirees from the surrounding communities turned out to for a benefit dinner that raised even more support for GDA.
On Sunday, a Classic Car Show was held at the Machinists District 9 hall in Bridgeton, MO. Over one-hundred twenty cars participated in the show with owners displaying their pride and craftsmanship to those in attendance.
Hundreds of citizens from the community visited the Classic Car Show and supported Guide Dogs of America by participating in the many raffles and enjoyed the food and drinks prepared by the District 837 Retiree Club members.
Local community Police and Fire Departments participated in the weekend of events in support of GDA.
The IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber praised all those involved saying, “We would like to thank all the Midwest Territory District and Local Lodges, Company Sponsors, Individual Sponsors and participants for the generous donations to this worthy cause. This was a significant undertaking that would have not been possible without the hard work and dedication of members and staff from IAM District 837, IAM District 837 Retiree Club, IAM District 9 and the Midwest Territory Staff and Spouses.”