iMail for Thursday March 2, 2006

IAM Member’s Son Fulfills Olympic Dream

Canada’s first Olympic ski jumping team since 1992 flew higher than many expected at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. The four young jumpers, including Calgary’s Graeme Gorham, the 18 year-old son of Local 1681 member and Air Canada employee Arthur Gorham, expected the 2006 games to be just a warmup for the 2010 Winter games in Vancouver, Canada.

Gorham and teammate Stefan Read made it to the medal round in the K120m Large Hill competition and finished among the top 50 in the world. They also helped the Canadian ski jumping team place 15th in the team competition. Gorham started ski jumping while still in elementary school and made his first large hill jump at age 12.

“For our family, having Graeme in the Olympics has been both overwhelming and the most gratifying experience in our lives,” said Arthur Gorham. “It wouldn’t have happened without the generous support of our friends, co-workers and IAM brothers and sisters on both sides of the border. Thank you all.”


House GOP Leader Gives Miners the Shaft

Showing little concern for mine safety or the families of 21 U.S. coal miners who were killed on the job in the first two months of the year, Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA) adjourned a March 1 hearing on mine safety a half hour ahead of schedule and before committee members could finish questioning witnesses.

The Republican chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee abruptly shut down the hearing despite a request by Rep. George Miller (D-Ca) to open a second round of questioning of witnesses.

The large number of coal mine deaths early on in 2006 focused attention on the Bush administration’s lackluster mine safety record. Since taking office in 2000, the administration reduced the number of mine inspectors, imposed inconsequential fines for safety violations and appointed mining executives to prominent positions in the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Unique Fund Protects Organizers in Maine

Workers who are illegally fired for trying to form a union in Bangor, Maine, can now get help from a unique insurance fund that provides benefits for discharged employees.

The Organizing Insurance Fund was inspired by the Greater Bangor Area Central Labor Council and workers at the Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) in Bangor, who are squaring off against a hostile management team in their bid to join the IAM.

More than 200 people—including a number of local political and civic leaders—have contributed to the fund, which currently has more than $10,000.

According to labor rights watchdog group, American Rights at Work, a worker is illegally discriminated against for union activity every 23 minutes in this country. “Some employers routinely discharge union supporters as part of their union avoidance campaigns,” said IAM Organizing Director Larry Washam. “While discharged employees can ppeal, and many win their jobs back, the process is slow. The Organizing Insurance Fund is a great idea that can provide a safety net when it’s needed most.”

Mechanics Local 701 Wins Again

Local 701 in Countryside, IL recently brought 17 new members into the IAM when technicians at Napleton Auto Werks of Indiana in Schererville, IN voted unanimously in favor of joining Mechanics Local 701.

“Despite harassment by the employer, our new members were solid in their determination,” said Local 701 Business Representative Armando Arreola. “They are committed to getting a collective bargaining agreement and the IAM Local 701 Standard Automotive Agreement.”

The new members are also seeking a contract with a good health care plan at a fair cost, a pension, guaranteed hours and wages and more holidays.

“This is another example of the strength our new members display in the face of harassment by employers,” said Midwest Territory GVP James E. Brown. “We wish Local 701 Directing Business Representative Dennis Jawor and Business Representative Armando Arreola continued success and appreciate their dedication to promoting a first class automotive agreement.”

Researchers Stymied in Cancer Study

Researchers looking into the possibility of a cancer cluster at Connecticut jet-maker Pratt & Whitney are seeking additional participation from employees to determine if a lethal form of brain cancer is linked to working conditions and chemicals used at the plant.

The study, by Pratt & Whitney and the Connecticut Department of Health, followed complaints by family members who documented more than three dozen deaths among workers from glioblastoma multiforme, an unusual form of brain cancer.

Participants in the study agree to be interviewed and consent to the release of medical records and genetic information. So far, only 25 percent of the thousands who are eligible have agreed to participate. More employee articipation is needed before conclusions can be drawn, according to Gary Marsh, the study’s lead researcher.

Pratt & Whitney currently employs nearly 12,000 workers in Cheshire, East Hartford and Middletown, CT. The study, which is on track to release preliminary information by the end of 2007, will also examine conditions at former Pratt & Whitney plants in North Haven, Rocky Hill, Southington and Manchester, CT.

AFL-CIO Approves Record Effort for Mid-Term Elections

Sensing an historic opportunity to get the county back on the right track, the AFL-CIO announced at its annual winter meeting that it will spend a record $40 million dollars to elect worker-friendly candidates in this year’s Congressional and gubernatorial races.

The AFL-CIO also issued a call for Congress to put a temporary across-the-board surcharge on most imports. Labor leaders plan to work with Democratic members of Congress to craft a surcharge bill that would stem the loss of good-paying American jobs and reduce the U.S.’s record $725.8 billion deficit.

Earlier in the week, the 9-million-member AFL-CIO announced a partnership with the National Education Association (NEA), the country’s largest teacher’s union with 2.8 million members. Under the partnership, the NEA will allow its 13,200 affiliates to join the AFL-CIO.

Register Now for IAM ‘Be Ready’ Program

In order to help IAM brothers and sisters affected by tragedy or disaster, the IAM Community Services is offering a “Be Ready” emergency preparedness program as part of its one-week Community Services Training Session, May 14-19, 2006, at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, MD.

In developing a “Be Ready” campaign to help fellow IAM members, participants will be able to exchange ideas, receive materials and from Rapid Response Teams in their area.

The IAM and its Community Services Department has a long history of helping members and their families, but with your elp they can step up efforts to further aid our members.

The deadline to submit the Participant Registration Form is March 8, 2006. The enrollment form should be returned to Maria Cordone, Director of the IAM Community Services/Retirees Department. Any lodge that has not participated in the past will be given priority placement, with the remaining vacancies filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

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