iMail for Thursday, May 29, 2008

Negotiations Herald New Era at Hawker Beechcraft

The IAM marked an historic occasion this week with the opening round of contract talks between Locals 733 and 2328 and Hawker Beechcraft, the newly-formed company that resulted from last year’s sale of Raytheon’s aircraft division to Onex Corporation.

These negotiations find Hawker Beechcraft well-positioned in a booming aircraft market, after the industry-wide downturn that followed the attacks of 9/11. The job market in Kansas is also strong, with more jobs than skilled workers. Hawker Beechcraft currently has over 1,000 job openings.

“We used to think the good old days of general aviation were long gone. But the industry today is healthier than ever,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger. “However, the general economy is tough, and our members worry about wars, they worry about being able to afford a good home and they worry about being able to afford fuel to simply to get to work. They are looking for a piece of the pie during these good times.”

Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez added, “This is a new company and a new day, and we have the opportunity to put the mistakes of the Raytheon days behind us. The members suffer from a substandard pension, and we certainly feel that it would be in everyone’s best interests to implement the IAM Pension Plan at Hawker Beechcraft. We need a strong Cost of Living Allowance provision to protect our members against inflation.”

“We look forward to the opportunities in this round of bargaining,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge. “Our 4,600 members at Locals 733 and 2328 have worked long and hard to bring about the prosperity of Hawker Beechcraft, and now is the time for our members and their families to share the bounty of a successful company.”

The Hawker Beechcraft contract expires August 3.

CBTU Holds 37th Convention in St. Louis

The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) held its 37th Convention in St. Louis, MO, with a rousing call for political action in November. Building on last year’s theme of “Lessons Learned, New Vision for the Future,” the 2008 CBTU Convention featured a full agenda of workshops, seminars and speakers focused on the elections in November, 2008.

“When we left Chicago last year we were ready to roll up our sleeves and go back home to be a force to be reckoned with for the 2008 elections,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux, who is CBTU Trustee and served as the presiding officer for the opening day of the convention. “We are doing that. CBTU members are visible in many communities, educating others about the issues important to CBTU members and working families.”

Founded in 1972, CBTU has been a strong, independent voice for black trade union members with more than 50 international and national unions represented, dozens of chapters nationwide and one in Ontario, Canada.

“These elections will be unprecedented in the scale and scope of the direction this country and its citizens will endure for many years to come,” said CBTU President Bill Lucy. “We must do our part in determining what path we take.”

IAM Midwest Territory Vice President Phil Gruber addressed the Convention, welcoming delegates to St. Louis and speaking about the effect of the current administration’s policies on Missouri and the nation. “We’ve all seen our communities and neighbors suffer from the loss of good jobs and the steady outsourcing of our industrial heritage,” said Gruber. “During the last eight years, I think we’ve learned enough lessons that we’re ready to teach a few of our own, starting on Election Day, 2008.”

GST Mart Announces June 1 Staff Changes

General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart this week announced the following staff changes to ensure IAM members, locals and districts continue to receive the high quality of support and service they deserve.

Effective June 1, Paul Kendall will assume all auditing responsibilities in Ohio and Michigan as the Grand Lodge Auditor for Zone 6. At that time, Brad Schmelzer will become Director for the Information Systems Department.

Also on June 1, Joe Heckman will become Assistant Director of the Information Systems Department and along with Assistant Director Colleen Morgan, will assist Schmelzer in the day-to-day operations of the department, which include the Membership and Strike Desk operations.

Brian Collis will become Assistant Manager to Harold White effective June 1, 2008.

“I know you will join me in giving your support and wishing each of them the best in their new assignments,” said GST Mart.

Alabama Mill Workers Restore IAM Contract

Thirty-seven maintenance workers at Brewton Mill in Brewton, AL, are standing tall after surviving a change of ownership, overcoming a union-busting campaign and negotiating a replacement contract with the plant’s new owner.

In September 2007, Georgia Pacific (GP) purchased the mill, laid off 75 workers and refused to abide by the IAM contract at the former Smurfit-Stone facility.

Despite an aggressive anti-union campaign by GP, local IAM leaders refused to give up. With assistance from the IAM Legal Department and support from the Southern Territory staff, new authorization cards were circulated and signed, the first step to restoring their rights under an IAM contract.

“The company’s tactics were so bad at first, our folks were reluctant to sign a union card,” said District 75 Business Rep Tony Blevins. “Only four workers would sign up initially, and three of them were on the negotiating committee.”

In the end, however, persistence won the day. “When the workers found out we weren’t giving up and we weren’t going away, they joined the fight,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “I want to thank the plant negotiating committee and Lynn Powell (Committee Chair), Ricky Henry and T.S. Ingraham Jr., for their hard work and extraordinary leadership during this transition.”

The combined effort paid off with a new four-year IAM agreement ratified by 96 percent. “The new contract is even better than the old,” said Blevins. “We now have a successorship clause, which the old contract obviously didn’t have. We have signing bonuses, raises and our pensions were increased by $10 to $60 per month for each year of service. That’s ten dollars better than anyone else in the industry.”

IAM Photography Contest Deadline Extended

The IAM Photography contest deadline has been extended from June 1, 2008 to June 6, 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.

Rally on June 21 for Atlantic City Casino Workers

More than 3,500 employees who deal the cards, roll the dice and maintain slot machines at four casinos in Atlantic City, NJ, recently voted for union representation with the United Auto Workers (UAW).  More than a year later, only two casinos, Caesars and Tropicana, are bargaining, while Bally’s and the Trump Plaza are refusing to recognize the legal bargaining rights of these workers.

On June 21 at high noon, thousands of AFL-CIO union members will take part in a massive rally and march in Atlantic City, NJ, to demand casino operators deal fairly with workers who have experienced a steady erosion of wages, health benefits and working conditions.

Atlantic City is well known as a union town where 30,000 casino workers are already covered under collective bargaining agreements. Many unions enthusiastically book conventions, meetings and events there.

“These casino operators need a wake up call,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “On June 21, we can send a message loud and clear that tens of thousands of union members will not support casinos that violate the legal rights of our fellow union members. I encourage anyone who can attend to join this rally and support the casino workers in Atlantic City.”

More than 80 political leaders on the local, state and federal level have issued statements of support and passed resolutions calling on casino management to bargain and respect the rights of workers to freely organize.

For more information about the June 21 rally and march, contact Beth Levie in the AFL-CIO Organizing Department at or 202-639-6286.