The IAM campaign to organize more than 300 employees working on Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III program is beginning to pay dividends with organizing wins in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Mississippi, Delaware, New Jersey, California and Washington state.
Following a series of recent elections, more than 230 Pilot Instructors, Loadmaster Instructors and Simulator Technicians will become IAM members and eligible for significant improvements in wages and benefits negotiated under Service Contract Act (SCA) guidelines.
“The Instructors and Technicians on these bases are highly-skilled professionals, and the only way to win wages and benefits equal to their colleagues across the country is by having a union to negotiate,” said District 171 Business Representative Tony Bennett, who helped guide the successful campaign at Altus Air Force Base in Altus, OK.
The multi-state, multi-territory organizing drive has been a joint effort coordinated through the IAM Aerospace and Organizing Departments, working closely with district and territory organizers.
At McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, WA, all 41 Boeing employees voted unanimously for IAM representation, a testament to the level of interest and the efforts of local district and territorial personnel involved.
“These are hard economic times, but IAM membership can still bring improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions to Service Contract employees,” said District 751’s Organizing Director, Jesse Cote II. “It also brings a measure of job security and levels the playing field between the current employer (Boeing) and other companies that might compete for the contract in the future.”
The IAM is widely acknowledged as a leader in contracts negotiated under SCA guidelines.
“Unlike other organizing campaigns, these drives have not been adversarial,” added Bennett. “This is about making sure the company and government can keep the people with the high skills required on the job. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
“We represent thousands of Service Contract workers, and I want to welcome our newest members,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “I look forward to our skilled representatives working closely with these workers negotiate good, strong IAM contracts.”
The IAM has filed formal charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charging Moncure Plywood LLC, a subsidiary of Greenwich, CT-based Atlas Holdings LLC, with violations of federal anti-discrimination law.
Sworn statements to be provided by the IAM will document a hostile work environment at the Moncure facility, including the prominent display of a hangman’s noose on company grounds in plain sight of the largely African-American workforce.
“Except for a burning cross and a white hood, there are few symbols of racism more inflammatory or feared than a hangman’s noose,” said Melvin Montford, Business Representative for IAM District Lodge W-2, which represents the workers at Moncure. “Many of the striking workers have relatives or know of stories of friends or ancestors who were either lynched or threatened by the prospect of a lynch mob.”
More than 100 workers at the Moncure mill have been on strike since July 20, 2008, over company demands that include mandatory seven-day work weeks, the elimination of long-standing seniority protections and quadrupling of employee’s health care costs.
In addition to the harassment charges, IAM members are concerned over additional discriminatory practices by the Moncure management team, which was hired by Atlas Holdings Managing Partner Tim Fazio.
“Moncure Plywood is certified as providing sustainable plywood to the furniture industry.” said Rod Kelty, IAM Director of the Woodworkers Department. “It is difficult to claim that plywood made in a racially hostile environment, with dangerous working conditions and violations of both U.S. labor law and international human rights conventions can be considered sustainable.”
To help Moncure workers in their fight for justice, go to www.goiam.org/moncure to send a message to Moncure’s major customers to let them know about Moncure’s outrageous behavior.
IAM members at Bombardier Learjet in Wichita, KS, are looking forward to negotiations this year, and the Negotiating Committee is preparing for what promises to be tough negotiations during a tough economy.
The Local 639 Bargaining Committee attended a week-long Negotiations Preparations session at the Winpisinger Center for training that included Communications and Member Mobilization, Strategic Planning, Law and Collective Bargaining, Bargaining Strategies, Contract Costing, Power Analysis, Drafting Contract Language and Presenting Proposals.
The week culminated with a realistic Negotiations Simulation, where Winpisinger Center staff transformed into hard-nosed company bargainers, taking sides with real issues and proposals that negotiators will likely be facing this year.
The entire Negotiating Team attended the training, including District 70 DBR Steve Rooney, BR Terry Carrington, Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge, and Southern Territory Special Representative Mark Love.
“This training helps provide the team with the skills and the strategic plan to bargain hard for the best possible contract,” said Rooney. “The week brought the Negotiators into focus for the job ahead, and the Local Lodge will start preparing for the negotiations immediately.”
The current collective bargaining agreement expires Oct. 5, 2009.
As the recession continues to hit working families hard and economic uncertainty looms, the IAM Employment Resources Department is committed to helping IAM members weather the storm.
If you are without work and facing financial difficulties, visit the IAM’s Unemployment Resources page on www.goiam.org for a list of available resources. The page provides information on health insurance alternatives, employment assistance, benefits, job search tools, retraining, and help with mortgage payments, creditors, and debt.
“The frightening number of layoffs in the current economy is devastating working families all across North America,” said IAM Employment Services Director Tony Chapman. “The IAM Employment Services Department can help our members get through these tough times.”
Also available is the Union Privilege Union SAFE Program. Eligible union members can apply for Union SAFE grant money (which does not need to be repaid) to help combat the problems in today’s economy. Grants are available for job loss, hospital expenses, disability, and college savings. The Union SAFE program also provides credit counseling and the “Save My Home” hotline for union members facing foreclosure.