iMail for Thursday, November 13, 2007

IAM Backs Massive Investment in Skills Training

The IAM is joining with the Workforce Alliance, a coalition of business, civic and labor leaders calling for the largest investment in workforce training since the G.I. Bill.

Members of the coalition this week announced the Skills2Compete campaign, a national effort to give every U.S. worker access to at least two years of technical education or training that would lead to a vocational credential or an industry-specific certification.

“America’s skills gap is not a crisis that lies over the horizon. It’s here right now,” said Machinists President Tom Buffenbarger. “Aerospace companies in Wichita, for example, are desperately looking for skilled workers to fill thousands of positions. It’s hard enough when workers are looking for jobs that don’t exist. It’s far worse when good jobs go unfilled because workers don’t have access to the training or education they need to qualify for those jobs.”

The Skills2Compete campaign is aimed at providing the kind of skill-specific education that will match America’s workers with the jobs that U.S. employers are trying so hard to fill. Thousands of production jobs in the U.S. go unfilled each year because workers lack the basic training to operate precision machinery. According to the Workforce Alliance, the demand for skilled workers will remain robust in the future.

“We need to give apprenticeships and vocational education much more than the lip service they have received in the past, and we fully intend to make this an issue in the presidential campaign,” said Buffenbarger.

Thousands Expected at NLRB Protests

Union members will march on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 15 to protest the board’s alarming record of anti-union, pro-business decisions. Similar protests are planned at NLRB offices in Los Angeles, CA, Austin, TX and more than 20 cities across the country.

In one of the NLRB’s most outrageous decisions, more than 8 million nurses, construction workers, journalists and others saw their right to organize disappear when the board expanded the definition of a supervisor to include workers who provide instruction to co-workers in the course of their job.

“The NLRB is churning out pro-business decisions in a ‘beat the clock’ strategy to do as much damage as possible before the 2008 elections,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “But we cannot afford to wait untill then. This board is clearly operating as an agent for businesses and against the workers and the law they are charged with protecting.”

For more information about the NLRB Week of Action events, contact Kevin Byrne at the AFL-CIO Voice at Work Campaign at 202-639-6232 or

Fact and Fiction on the Campaign Trail

Senator Barack Obama recently released a television campaign ad that highlighted an IAM leader from Galesburg, Illinois. Only the back of his T-shirt was visible and it says, “JOBS! Worth Fighting For.” The image was memorable. But so are the facts.

“Illinois State Senator Obama came to a single rally as union, state and community leaders tried to keep the Maytag plant in Galesburg open,” said IP Buffenbarger. “Once elected to the United States Senate, he never lifted a finger to help stop the outsourcing of those jobs. He stood idly by as an entire Illinois community was devastated.”

When United Airlines declared bankruptcy, it happened again. Thousands of airline workers in Illinois saw their pensions disappear, their health care benefits shrink and their wages fall to pre-1996 levels. When those blue collar workers need his help, again Senator Obama stood idly by.

“As Senator Obama’s rhetoric flourished, his own constituents’ lives dissolved,” said Buffenbarger. “His new-found zeal for the trade issue seems more rhetorical excess than real passion.”

2008 IAM Calendar Available for Bulk Orders

Local and District Lodges can order bulk quantities of the 2008 IAM Calendar, featuring winners of the IAM Photo Contest. Calendars are an excellent way to showcase the IAM in the workplace. Also, two dollars from the sale of each calendar goes to the IAM-sponsored charity, Guide Dogs of America.

All Lodges that order 100 or more calendars get a price break from seven dollars to five dollars per calendar.

Click here to download a bulk order form.

For individual calendar orders, click here to download an individual order form.

U.S. & Canada Sisters Recognized

Toni McBroom has been an active IAM member for nearly 25 years. Currently the Communicator/Educator for Local 956 in Archbold, OH. Toni also served as Trustee and Recording Secretary in addition to serving as Vice President of District 34.

In addition to her local and district responsibilities, Toni has represented the IAM as a member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women’s National Executive Board for the past 10 years. She is also active in her state CLUW chapter and AFL-CIO constituency groups, including the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).

Toni encourages all sisters to become involved and reminds them to not give up. “When things become difficult, here are others who will help,” says Toni, the newest U.S. Sister of the Month.

Barbra Wilander has been a member of the IAM for 27 years and is the Canadian November-December Sister of the Month. A production worker at Moduline Industries LTD., Barbra serves her sisters and brothers of Local 2711 in British Columbia as the Conductor/Sentinel.

Barbra first became interested in the union because she wanted to know what could be done to improve working conditions on the job. While there haven’t been many obstacles to Barbra’s achievements, she continues to put her best foot forward. She advises any sister preparing to accept the responsibility of elected office to do her homework.

“Research all the bylaws and understand them and participate in the courses and trainings,” counsels Barbra, who enjoys cooking, crocheting, knitting and puzzles in her spare time.

Contract Ratifications in Canada

Machinists from Local 1922 employed by Courtyard by Marriot Hotel in Brampton, ON, ratified their first collective bargaining agreement recently, securing wage increases of 75 cents per hour in each of the first two years and 50 cents per hour in the remaining two years.

The 25 members include cooks, bartenders, house keeping and maintenance staff. The four-year agreement also included seniority provisions, increased vacation and improvements to health care and dental coverage.

“Any time you can get your members a 20 percent wage increase over the life of an agreement, it’s a good thing, especially when it’s a first agreement,” said District 78 Directing Business Representative Gary Hynes. “These people were quite happy with the outcome and that’s what counts.”

Elsewhere in Canada, three units from IAM Local 901 in Toronto also ratified contracts. Forty-seven members working for Protectolite Incorporated of Scarborough ratified a four-year agreement providing them wage increases of 2.75 percent in the first year, 2.5 percent in the second and third year and a fourth year increase linked to the CPI rate.

Members working for FCI Canada Incorporated of Scarborough ratified a three-year agreement, securing wage increases of three percent each year and improvements in benefits. The 14 members there manufacture electrical connectors for the domestic construction industry.

Ten members at the Oshawa Community Credit Union agreed to a four-year agreement providing wage increases of two percent retroactive to October 1, 2007, two percent in the second and third year and three percent in the fourth year.

The contract also provides increases in pension contribution and improvements to life insurance policies.

IAM Mourns UAN President Cheryl Johnson

Friends, family and colleagues gathered at a memorial service in Ann Arbor, MI, this week to pay tribute to United American Nurses (UAN) President Cheryl Johnson, 57, who died Oct. 28 from a brain aneurysm.

Johnson served as a union leader and fierce advocate for her fellow nurses for more than three decades. After guiding the UAN to an historic affiliation with the AFL-CIO in 2001, Johnson was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council and served with IP Tom Buffenbarger on the AFL-CIO Executive Committee, the Federation’s governing body.

“Like so many others, I feel privileged to have known and worked with Cheryl,” said Buffenbarger, who spoke at the memorial service. “We will all miss her friendship, her advice and her wonderful sense of humor. The American labor movement owes a debt of gratitude to this good woman and I am certain she will always be an inspiration for labor activists.”