iMail for Thursday, March 20, 2008

MNPL Targets Elections, Tanker Deal

The Machinists Non-Partisan Political League (MNPL) held their annual planning meeting this week in Nashville, TN, against a backdrop that included the $40 billion tanker contract and a host of economic indicators that have many experts convinced the nation is already in recession.

“The deepening mortgage crisis, soaring energy costs and millions of lost jobs are going to be the economic legacy of George W. Bush,” said IAM Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski. “We need to organize and mobilize like never before to give working Americans and union members the opportunity to be heard again in this country.”

The members of the MNPL Planning Committee listened closely to legislative and political operatives who agree the potential exists to pick up additional seats in both houses of Congress. “When voters choose a Democrat to fill a seat held by former House Republican Speaker Denny Hastert, you know we are looking at big changes ahead,” said Jon Vogel, Political Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who described the upcoming election as an opportunity of historic proportions.

In addition to political speakers, planning sessions and the annual awards dinner, delegates were briefed by representatives of the Boeing Co. on their efforts to overturn the $40 billion tanker contract awarded to Airbus/EADS.

“This battle will be fought inside the beltway, but it will be won in the districts where each of you live,” said Tod Hullin, Boeing’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy, who implored members to return home and contact lawmakers about the outrageous decision to outsource our military’s aerial refueling capability.

Hullin described the bidding process as a “bait and switch” scheme that favored Airbus and ignored key advantages of the Boeing tanker over the Airbus offering. The Air Force also did not take into account the impact of the taxpayer-funded contract on U.S. jobs or employment, claiming they were not authorized to do so.


Boeing Machinists Rally Over Tanker Scandal

With more than 40,000 U.S. jobs on the line, hundreds of Boeing workers and their supporters crowded inside the Machinists Hall in Everett, WA yesterday to protest the Air Force’s recent decision to award a $40 billion aerial refueling tanker contract to the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS)

Efforts to overturn the controversial decision and award the contract to U.S. firm Boeing have been ramped up, with a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of the tanker contract already underway.

IAM members and other Boeing workers were joined by supporters and a host of local lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Governor Chris Gregoire (D-WA).

“I couldn’t believe, and still can’t believe, that our own federal government decided to ship thousands of jobs overseas,” said Gregoire. “I stand ready to help in any way I can to bring these jobs home to Washington where they belong.”

“We have got to wake people up across this country to the fact that this was an unfair competition from the very beginning,” said Murray.

Boeing’s KC-767 tanker would be built with over 85 percent domestic U.S. content and would support more than 44,000 U.S. jobs and 300 contractors in over forty states. The tanker competition was mandated in 2003, allowing a heavily subsidized European manufacturer, EADS, to bid against Boeing, a U.S. firm that received no subsidies.

The IAM represents nearly 35,000 Boeing employees in Washington state, Oregon, Kansas and locations across the country.

Click here to send a message to your representatives in Congress, urging them to overturn this decision.


Local 1487 Member Benefits from Mortgage Program

Hyunjin Choe, a member of Chicago Local 1487 who is employed as a customer service agent for United Airlines, called on the Union Plus Mortgage Program recently and saved hundreds of dollars in closing costs on her new Chicago-area condo.

“I was so tired of moving,” said Choe, and understandably so. After moving in and out of five different rentals in three years, Choe was ready to find – and buy – her first home. But with home prices high, she was concerned about the closing costs and the up-front cash she’d need.

“I decided quickly to use the Union Plus Mortgage Program,” Choe says. “The program saved me almost $600 in closing costs immediately, and the loan officer was very competent, efficient and professional.”

To her surprise, Choe was also the winner of the “Welcome to Your First Home” award from Union Plus. A few weeks after moving in, she received her award: $500 in gift cards to use at a local union grocery store.

The Union Plus Mortgage Program offers a full-range of mortgage products, including loans for union members with less-than-perfect credit. Program benefits also include a cap on fees and special payment assistance for union members in the event of unemployment, disability, strike or lock out.

To learn more about the Union Plus Mortgage program, call 1-800-848-6466, or visit www.UnionPlus.org/Mortgage to find a local office.


Ortis Re-elected Mayor of Pembroke Pines

Retired IAM member Frank Ortis has handily won his re-election bid for Mayor of Pembroke Pines, FL, receiving nearly 75 percent of the vote.

Ortis, who’s been an IAM member since he first went to work for the former Eastern Airlines in 1967, became a resident of Pembroke Pines in 1977 and has been active in both the labor movement and politics ever since. He has served in many capacities over the years, including serving on the Pembroke Pines City Commission and the Broward County AFL-CIO. Currently, Ortis serves as President of the Florida State Council of Machinists and Vice President of the Florida AFL-CIO Executive Board.

“I’m humbled and grateful to be elected again to lead this beautiful city,” Ortis told the Miami Herald. “I’m just grateful for the residents who have confidence in me.”

Named Mayor of the Year by the Florida League of Cities in 2006, Ortis took all precincts this election save one, and that was a tie.


Railcrew Xpress Drivers GO IAM

With an organizing lead from Local Lodge 2782, members at Railcrew Xpress celebrate their induction into the IAM family.

District 9 in Bridgeton, MO brought 26 new members into the IAM by virtue of an organizing win at Railcrew Xpress in Thayer, MO.  Members there are yard drivers, radius drivers and long-haul drivers providing service to railroad workers at BNSF railroad.

“Our committee stood strong while facing a weekly anti-union campaign from the employer,” said District 9 Organizer Mike Hahn. “They all helped tremendously in educating our new members on company tactics and at the same time helped everyone stay focused on gaining the benefits of an IAM District 9 contract.  Our members are determined in seeking a contract that guarantees their rights in the workplace and offers a better health care package.”  Hahn continued saying, “This win would not have been possible without Scott Griggs of Local 2782 in West Plains, MO who brought the organizing lead forward to District 9.”

“District 9 Directing Business Representative Roger Poole and Organizer Mike Hahn continue to do an outstanding job of growing our great union,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber. “We appreciate their hard work and dedication.”