iMail for Thursday, May 28, 2009

California Members at Cytec on Strike over Basic Rights

Members of Local 906 in Santa Ana, CA, are determined to prevail in their strike against Cytec Industries in Anaheim, CA, following a proposal by the company that would have gutted key contract language and required union members to work 12-hour shifts without overtime.

The 180 workers at Cytec produce composites for commercial and military aviation applications. IAM members there are also seeking contract language that would require the company to provide the necessary training for employees to remain current in the latest technology. In addition to fundamental training and overtime issues, the union is on strike to preserve the established use of “past practice” settlements as a foundation to resolve future grievances.

The strikers are not seeking excessive wage increases or significant benefit improvements in the current round of bargaining. “We understand the economy,” said Chief Steward Young Ho. “But you don’t ever give up the basic contract language that others before you fought for. People have died for the eight-hour day.”

The dispute at Cytec, now in its 18 th day, is drawing support from area unions and community activists. More than 250 took part in a rally last week sponsored by the Orange County Labor Council, where Western Territory GVP-elect Gary Allen told the group they were on the cutting edge of the fight to preserve America’s middle class. “Your fight is for this generation and the next,” said Allen, who called the strike “a fight for justice and dignity.”

Click here for more information and to view video clips of the rally with remarks by Gary Allen and Young Ho.

Northwest, Delta Campaign Going Strong

The campaign to preserve Northwest Airlines’ IAM members’ contracts and pensions after it completes the merger with Delta Air Lines is gaining momentum. “More and more Delta workers are recognizing the important protection that only a union provides,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “But wanting the security of an IAM contract is not enough. Delta and Northwest workers must take action to secure the jobs and benefits they want.”

Delta employees are helping to educate their coworkers about the disparity between front-line workers and privileged executives, and urging them to sign cards authorizing a representation election. “Look at your stockholder’s proxy statement and take a look at the compensation our leaders received in 2008,” said 23-year Delta employee Michael Stack.  “Look again at the bonus you received; don’t break your back lifting all those zeros!”

Stack also commented on the importance of having a defined benefit pension plan, like the IAM National Pension Plan that IAM-represented Northwest members enjoy. “Right now, Delta has frozen our retirement program and the rest is in a 401(k) that has only lost money since it started. A defined benefit retirement program that does not subtract your Social Security payments is going to be necessary to live, unless you figure on working until you die.”

Delta Air Lines is urging its employees to avoid reading IAM educational material. “Delta is afraid of its employees learning that they have a right to question management, and a right to determine their own future,” said Roach. “That type of dictatorial management is not good for Delta or its employees.”

The IAM will seek elections for the various classifications where it has Northwest members after Northwest and Delta become a single transportation system for representational purposes. Click here for more information about the Northwest/Delta election is available.

IMF World Congress Calls for Action to Secure Jobs

More than 800 metalworker union leaders at the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) World Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden wrapped up a four-day conference where they took action on numerous fronts to respond the growing global economic crisis and improve rights and conditions for metalworkers around the world.

Besides adopting resolutions calling for action ranging from protections for workers in the global restructuring of the auto industry to endorsing the Employee Free Choice Act, delegates also approved a four-year action program that echoed the Conference theme “Secure Jobs for a Secure Future.” Key parts of the program include calls for: prompt adoption of stimulus programs that benefit and protect workers economy-wide; measures to prevent layoffs and save jobs through company and government financed benefits that secure worker incomes and their ability to support their families; restoration of the flow and access to credit for automotive and metalworking companies; acceleration of investment in research, development and productive processes, particularly those that foster more sustainable metal and manufacturing industries and rejection of employer; and government attempts to exploit the crisis to undermine or attack trade unions and workers’ rights.

For more information on the IMF and the 2009 IMF World Congress, visit

House Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the FAA Reauthorization Bill containing many of the major provisions the Machinists union has spearhead in recent years.

The bill, H.R. 915, includes funding for a Next Generation air traffic control system, provides for safety and health standards for flight attendants, mandates increased supervision of overseas aircraft repair stations, requires a review of FAA air traffic control staffing and closes the FedEx loophole that helped keep the package delivery company largely non-union by placing non-airport employees under the jurisdiction of the Railway Labor Act.

IAM Mourns Retired Canadian GVP Mike Rygus

Mike Rygus, one of the longest serving General Vice Presidents’ of the IAM in Canada from 1961 to 1984, passed away at the age of 89. Rygus was born in Saskatchewan in 1920, the son of a Ukrainian immigrant farmer. He joined the IAM while working as a draftsman in the office and technical unit of Orenda Aircraft and became active in the leadership of IAM Local 1922. He held the post of Education Director in Canada where he was instrumental in developing new education programs. Rygus succeeded George P. Schollie as Canadian General Vice President in 1961.

Over the next 23 years, Rygus oversaw the greatest growth of the IAM in Canada outside of the war years. Always a keen student of the political process, Rygus led a sizeable Machinist delegation to the founding convention of the New Democratic Party in Ottawa in 1961. “He was a man of very strong union principles,” remembers Louis Erlichman, whom Rygus hired as Canadian Research Director in 1978. “His legacy could be best summed up by the professionalization of the union in Canada under his guidance.”

Rygus was also active as a Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress where is interest in pensions led him to serve as chairman of the committee which developed substantial changes to the CLC pension policy. He also satisfied his interest in economics through participation as a Machinist representative on several tri-partite – business, government, labour – economic standing committees, often acting as co-chairman.

Senate Confirms Obama’s FAA and NMB Picks

The Senate recently confirmed Linda Puchala as a member of the three-person National Mediation Board (NMB) and Randy Babbitt as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Puchala recently served as a senior mediator with the NMB and is the former president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. The National Mediation Board oversees collective bargaining mediation and union representation elections in the air and rail industries, including elections as a result of the pending merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines.

Babbitt is the former president of the Air Line Pilots Association. He most recently worked as a partner in the aviation practice of a management-consulting firm.