iMail for Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kentucky Local Wins Big in Overtime 

Persistence and attention to detail paid off for 57 members of Local 681 in Louisville, KY, who recently shared a six-figure arbitration settlement over a company policy that unfairly restricted overtime in their workplace.

Two years ago, managers at the Alcoa Louisville Foil Plant proposed what became known as the 64-hour rule, where no one was allowed to work more than 64 hours in one week. While the company cited “safety reasons,” Local 681 union leaders insisted that the workers’ union contract spelled out how overtime would be distributed. The company implemented the overtime policy anyway.

The union fought back, filing grievances and keeping close track whenever any worker was denied overtime because of the rule. Recently, the case went before binding arbitration and the arbitrator ruled that indeed, the company violated the union contract.

 “What was important is that we kept very complete records the last two years,” said Local 681 Chief Steward Greg Gowen, who filed the initial grievance.

The final result was a $149,516 settlement, with 57 workers receiving checks from just over $100 to $10,000, depending upon the amount of overtime they were denied.

“A lot of our members were convinced we never had a shot, that we’d never see a dime from this,” said former Negotiating Committee member Terry Quinkert. “I kept telling them that we did, that it’s in the contract.”

“A good contract relies on good enforcement at the local level,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “Louisville’s Local 681 demonstrated beyond any doubt the value of IAM membership and the benefit of careful record keeping. I commend and congratulate them all on their win.”


Legislative Conference Salutes Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur

A stalwart ally in the U.S. House of Representatives and a longtime friend of the IAM, Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur was honored this week at the 2008 IAM Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

Delegates cheered after viewing a video of Rep. Kaptur speaking out in the House of Representatives on behalf of IAM members at United Space Alliance (USA). Standing before her colleagues, she declared IAM members “among the most talented and trained workers in our nation,” as she questioned NASA and the USA’s attempts to take away pensions from their workers.

“I am honored to be here this morning on behalf of every human being who has gathered the courage to stand up and say: ‘My work has worth,’ said Kaptur to Legislative Conference delegates after accepting the award. “This bold passage to a brave, new consciousness of the worth of human work, sadly, does not belong to all people. But it should.”

“Marcy Kaptur is a true representative of the working people of America,” said IP Buffenbarger. “A longtime friend of the Machinists, she’s been there for us over and over again. She respects workers and the work they do. Thank you, Congresswoman.”

Click here to see a video of Kaptur’s October 2007 remarks or here to read a transcript from the Congressional record.


Memorial Day Radio Event to Honor Vietnam Veterans

May 26 is Memorial Day, the national holiday marked by public parades and private remembrances for the men and women who died in service to their country.

Among the many tributes to service and sacrifice being held this weekend is a unique radiothon on the Talk Radio Network to raise funds for the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center in Washington, D.C. The Center will be constructed adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and provide photographs and personal stories to go with the more than 58,000 names that are inscribed on what is now simply known as “The Wall.”

“The IAM is proud to support the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, and this year we are also supporting the work of Sons and Daughters in Touch, the national organization of family members who lost loved ones in Vietnam,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Every generation bears an obligation to the generation that went before it. I believe we have a special responsibility to the men and women who served and died in the Vietnam War. The Memorial Center and Sons and Daughters in Touch give us the opportunity to help preserve that generation’s awesome legacy of service and sacrifice.”

For more information, visit http://www.vvmf.org/ or tune into Rusty Humphries on the Talk Radio Network for the Memorial Day weekend radiothon on May 23, 24 and 26.


Senate Committee Grills Big Oil

As consumers struggle with record oil prices and gas prices topping $4 a gallon in some locations, executives from the five largest oil companies appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, struggling to defend their record profits.

The committee questioned executives from Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips Co., Shell Oil Co., Chevron and BP, criticizing them for not investing enough in finding new oil and developing renewable resources. The oil companies represented at the hearing recorded more than $120 billion in profits last year, in addition to $36 billion in the first quarter of 2008. Gas prices, meanwhile, are currently averaging $3.84 a gallon, up nearly sixty cents from the same time last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.

“The President once boasted that with his pals in the oil industry, he would be able to keep prices low and consumers would benefit,” said Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) during his opening statement. “Instead, it is his pals in the oil industry who have benefited. American consumers, and the American economy, have suffered immensely.”

The House, which voted overwhelmingly recently to allow the United States to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries under antitrust laws, is set to hold a similar hearing.


IAM Photography Contest Reminder

The IAM Photography contest deadline is June 1, 2008. It is open to IAM members in good standing and photo entries should be of IAM members at work. Winning entries will win a cash prize and be featured in the 2009 IAM Calendar.

Click here for contest rules, applications and release forms. Please read all instructions carefully. Contact the Communications Department at 301-967-4520 for more information.


Locals, Districts Key to Convention Book

Every four years, the Convention Commemorative Book provides a wide-angle view of the IAM, its members and the companies where we work. In addition to helping defray the cost of the Convention, the book provides local and district lodges with an opportunity to stand up and be recognized for their service, their history and their identity.

This year, the deadline for ads has been extended to give locals and districts every opportunity to be included in this historic document. Local and district representatives are urged to immediately contact Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative James (Rody) Rodehorst at 316-841-8313 or by email for additional information about options to design their own ad, or select from a template.


House Lawmakers Voice Tanker Concerns

A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) last week, voicing deep concerns about the potential national and economic security threats of the Air Force’s decision to award a $40 billion aerial refueling tanker contract to the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS).

The letter, signed by Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) and 37 of their colleagues, cites broad concerns beyond the legal and process-related questions currently being examined by the GAO.

“The necessary GAO review will not address the broader national and economic security concerns raised by the tanker decision,” the letter states. “Congress must address these serious issues before the tanker program can move forward—we owe it to the warfighter, to American workers and to American taxpayers to ensure not just that the technical acquisition process worked as it was supposed to, but that the nation buys the best tanker.”

The Air Force’s decision could impact as many as 44,000 U.S. aircraft and aerospace workers at hundreds of primary and secondary contractors in more than 40 states.

Over the next seven to ten years, the U.S. expects to purchase 179 new tankers, a number that will grow to over 350 in the next two decades. With over 85 percent domestic U.S. content, Boeing’s KC-767 tanker offered more storage for fuel, troops, medical supplies and equipment. The Airbus tanker is larger but also burns 24 percent more fuel while airborne. It is so large that it cannot land at many critical military bases, reducing its value as a military support asset.