iMail for Thursday, May 24, 2007

CBTU Holds 36th Annual Convention

More than 1,000 IAM members and trade unionists are gathering in Chicago, IL, this week for the 36th International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). “Lessons Learned, New Vision for the Future,” is the theme of the week-long convention.

“Since 1972, CBTU has been a voice for African-American workers within the labor movement,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux, who serves as CBTU Trustee. “Its mission has been to challenge organized labor to be more relevant to the needs and aspirations of black and poor workers, and that’s just as important today as it was 35 years ago,” said Babineaux.

CBTU is also keenly aware of the political world and its implications for working families.

“We must fight as diligently now as we did then to combat these very real and threatening attacks on our livelihoods for the sake of our families and future generations,” said William Lucy, CBTU co-founder and President, and International Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME. “Our jobs and community programs are at stake. We must raise our awareness and knowledge of the issues confronting us to better fight and stave off these attacks,” stated Lucy in the official convention call.

Senate Immigration Proposal No Fix for Broken System

The immigration proposal taking shape this week in the U.S. Senate is fast becoming one of the most controversial issues of the decade, with lawmakers certain to face concerned and even outraged constituents when they return home for the Memorial Day recess.

Under the Senate bill, 400,000 to 600,000 temporary foreign workers could enter the United States each year on two-year, guest worker visas. By renewing visas, that number could reach more than 1 million foreign workers in the third year of the program.

Opponents of the bill’s guest worker measure include Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who said it would create a pool of “desperate low-wage workers.” AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson echoed the concern, saying the Senate bill would allow employers to import “hundreds of thousands temporary workers every year to perform permanent jobs throughout the economy.”

The Senate bill also includes a controversial provision that would offer a means to achieve legal status for most of the 12 million illegal immigrants now in the U.S.

“The supposed ‘path to legalization’ in the Senate compromise will exclude millions of workers and thus ensure that America will have two classes of workers, only one of which can exercise workplace rights,” said Chavez-Thompson. “As long as this two-tiered system exists, all workers will suffer because employers will have available a ready pool of labor that they can exploit to drive down wages, benefits, health and safety protections and other workplace standards.” 

IAM Pickets Smurfit-Stone Shareholders Meeting

Smurfit-Stone’s unwillingness to bargain reasonably at its plant in Sioux City, IA, led members of Local 1426 in Sioux City to strike the facility nearly three months ago. In a bid to bring the deplorable working conditions at the plant to the attention of Smurfit-Stone board members and shareholders, IAM Midwest Territory representatives recently picketed Smurfit-Stone’s annual shareholders meeting in Chicago, IL.

“Our members have been working mandatory overtime up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with only 12 days off last year,” said District Lodge 6 Business Representative John Herrig. “Our hope is that the company recognizes the sacrifices our members have made and will negotiate accordingly.”

“It’s absolutely ridiculous in this day and age that anyone would have to go on strike to spend time with their families,” said Midwest GVP Phil Gruber. “With all the hours of dedication our members are contributing to the success of Smurfit-Stone, they deserve time to be with their families, they deserve good health insurance at a reasonable cost and they deserve a secure pension plan.”

Spanish Leadership at WWW Center

The IAM’s second Leadership I program, conducted entirely in Spanish, is taking place this week at the William W. Winpisinger Center in Hollywood, Maryland. Twelve IAM members from six states, along with two trade unionists from Guatemala, are participating in Spanish Leadership I – Liderazgo I.

“This program demonstrates the IAM’s commitment to provide all of its members with the skills and tools they need to more effectively represent their sisters and brothers in the workplace,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “I am very proud of each of these members and I have challenged them to go back to their locals and to their workplaces and put to use what they learned at the Winpisinger Center.”

The Winpisinger Center’s 2007 calendar includes another Spanish Leadership I Program on July 8 -13. Local and District Lodges are encouraged to enroll members in this and other Winpisinger Center programs as soon as possible.

Photo caption: Twelve IAM members from six states took part in the second Spanish Leadership I program this week at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center.

Liderazgo 1 en Español en el Centro WWW

La Clase de Liderazgo 1 en español de la IAM, conducido enteramente en español, esta siendo presentada esta semana en el Centro de Educación y Tecnología William W. Winpisinger en Hollywood, Maryland. Doce miembros de la IAM de seis Estados del País junto con dos Unionistas (sindicalistas) de Guatemala están tomando parte en esta clase de Liderazgo 1 en español.

“Este programa demuestra el compromiso de la IAM para ayudar a todos sus miembros con el desarrollo de sus habilidades y les provee con herramientas que ellos necesitan representar efectivamente a sus hermanas y hermanos en su lugar de trabajo,” dijo el presidente del Internacional Tom Buffenbarger. “Estoy muy orgulloso de cada uno de estos miembros y yo los he desafiado para que vuelvan a sus Locales y a sus centros de trabajo y pongan en practica todo lo que aprendieron en el Centro Winpisinger.”

El calendario de clases del Centro educativo Winpisinger para el 2007 incluye otra Clase de Liderazgo 1 en español de Julio 8 a Julio 13 del 2007. Se les pide a las Logias Locales y Distritos a que matriculen miembros en esta y otras clases en el Centro Educativo Winpisinger tan pronto como sea posible.

Photo caption: Doce miembros de la IAM de seis Estados de este país tomaron parte en la segunda Clase de Liderazgo 1 en español esta semana en el Centro de Educación y Tecnología William W. Winpisinger.

District 66 Wins Big at VT Griffin

District 66 in La Crosse, WI brought 70 new members into the IAM with a tremendous organizing victory at VT Griffin Services, Inc. in Sparta, WI. The workers, who perform vital public works services for U.S. troops at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, voted overwhelmingly for IAM representation.

Perseverance was the key to success for workers at VT Griffin who stood up to anti-union tactics and materials provided by the notorious Labor Relations Institute.

“They stood strong throughout the campaign in order to get an IAM contract and the representation they deserve,” said Midwest Territory GVP Phil Gruber. “Our thanks go out to Grand Lodge Representative Bob Anderson, Apprentice Organizer Brian Jarvensivu, District 66 Directing Business Representative Rick Mickschl and the District 66 organizing council for a great effort and victory.”