iMail for Thursday, November 17, 2005

Machinists Launch on Boeing Rocket Safety

The IAM is charging the Boeing Co. with circumventing critical safety regulations in an attempt to meet launch deadlines for NASA’s plutonium-powered New Horizons mission.

There are personnel currently working on this project at Cape Canaveral, Florida who do not meet Air Force requirements for hazardous operations such as cranes, tools and test equipment. At particular risk is the Pluto-bound New Horizons mission, planned for a January launch, carrying 24 pounds of highly-radioactive plutonium.

IAM-represented technicians employed by Boeing at Cape Canaveral struck on November 2 after Boeing proposed massive concessions in health care for current and future employees. The same proposals led to a costly 4-week strike at Boeing’s Commercial Aircraft facilities in Kansas, Oregon and Washington.

Boeing’s practice of using inexperienced replacement workers is a recipe for disaster, warned IAM representatives. The Air Force’s Range Safety department at the Cape has already issued two Corrective Action Reports — both in the first week of the strike. The Air Force threatened to shut down the project if one more CAR is issued.

Delphi Union Coalition Meets in Detroit

The IAM joined with leaders of the Mobilizing@Delphi working group, for the coalition’s first meeting at Solidarity House, the UAW headquarters in Detroit.

The seven-union coalition, representing more than 33,000 union members at bankrupt Delphi Corp., declared it will work together to deny Delphi any opportunity to set one plant against another, or one union against another.

“We are united in our effort to craft a solution to Delphi’s current problems that makes sense for our members, for the company and its investors and for the communities where we work and live,” said the coalition in a joint statement.

Delphi is seeking to eliminate nearly two-thirds of union jobs at the auto parts company and is proposing to pay remaining workers between $10 and $12.50 an hour.

“Delphi’s solution is to force Delphi’s workers down to near-poverty level wages while rewarding executives with $90 million in bonuses. This approach makes sense for Delphi CEO Steve Miller, Delphi’s board of directors and top executives, but not for any of Delphi’s other stakeholders,” said the coalition.

The multi-union effort includes the IAM, UAW, IUE-CWA, Steelworkers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the International Union of Operating Engineers.

GVP Roach Targets Overseas Repair Risks

“It’s not hard to imagine how certified overseas aircraft repair stations working on U.S. aircraft could provide terrorists with an opportunity to sabotage U.S. aircraft or components that will eventually re-enter the U.S. for domestic service,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. in testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“These stations should be immediately closed down until security audits of those stations can be conducted and security vulnerabilities addressed.”

Roach addressed the dangers of overseas aircraft repair as the sole representative of aircraft mechanics on a panel of industry officials and government representatives.

The Senate subcommittee hearing included: Marion Blakey, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration; Kenneth Mead, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation; John Carr, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association; Basil Barimo, Vice President Operations and Safety, Air Transport Association and Christian Klein, Legislative Counsel, Aeronautical Repair Station Association.

“The U.S. aviation industry is the safest in the world,” added Roach. “However, we cannot allow ourselves to be complacent. We must increase our vigilance in the United States, and honestly assess and diffuse the threat from overseas repair stations.”

Judge Approves Cuts at Northwest Airlines

A U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Northwest Airlines’ motion for temporary relief that reduces wages for IAM-represented employees by 19 percent and cuts compensation for sick leave to 75 percent of the prevailing wage rate for each day of paid sick leave taken.

“The Machinists Union did not agree to these terms, but the bankruptcy law does not require union agreement for temporary contract changes,” said District 143 President Bobby DePace. “The Machinists union will not agree to any long-term contract changes unless they are first presented to and ratified by the membership.”

The judge also approved temporary agreements between Northwest and its pilots and flight attendants, and long-term agreements with the carrier’s dispatchers, meteorologists and technical support workers.

The mechanics, represented by AMFA, were not involved because Northwest already has the ability to set whatever wage, benefit and work rule terms it wants for the mechanic group.

In other bankruptcy-related news, United Airlines announced plans to close its Denver Reservations Center effective approximately January 15, 2006. The closure will affect 235 IAM members, who will be offered positions according to their contract at United’s Chicago and Detroit reservations centers. District 141 is also negotiating for improved retirement opportunities without the loss of benefits for the affected members.

Machinists Win Certification in Ontario

The IAM organized 70 workers at Purewood Incorporated in Brampton, Ontario after the company agreed to recognize the right of temporary workers to vote for a union.

“This was a tough nut to crack,” said Scott Jackson, District 78 organizer. “The certification vote was held October 17 th but many of the ballots were segregated because the employer felt temporary workers didn’t have the right to vote. The majority of these workers are new Canadians who do not speak English and this process of a segregated ballot can be very intimidating and confusing.”

The Machinists filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board and a hearing into the complaint was scheduled for Wednesday, November 9, 2005. “The company changed its mind just before the hearing was to start and agreed to recognize the ballots of temporary workers and their votes carried the certification,” explained Jackson.

“The assistance of our brothers and sisters from Local Lodges 26 and 1922 was instrumental in overcoming the language barrier,” added Jackson.

The 70 new members of Local Lodge 2243 manufacture a variety of wood products including kitchen cabinets and doors. A meeting will be held next week to elect a bargaining committee in preparation for negotiation of their first collective agreement.

Local 1363 Organizes Cadillac Workers

Local 1363 in Cleveland, Ohio brought five new members into the Machinists union recently by organizing and negotiating a first contract for the employees at Spitzer Cadillac in Cleveland, OH. The victory marks the 28th organizing win for the Eastern Territory this year.

“On behalf of the Eastern Territory and its members, I extend our congratulations and appreciation to Local Lodge 1363 Directing Business Representative Phil Zannella, Jr., Business Representative Tom Verdi, and all of the team for a job well done,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr.

IAM Mourns former DBR Joseph F. Cointin

It is with great sadness that the IAM announces the passing of former Law Committee member and District 9 Directing Business Representative, Joseph F. Cointin.

Cointin was initiated in 1943 into Victory Lodge 394, which merged with Local 41. He served as Chief Shop Steward, Local Lodge Recording Secretary, District 9 Organizer, District 9 Business Representative and Assistant Directing Business Representative. In December 1966, Joe was elected to Directing Business Representative of District 9 and served in that position until his retirement in 1978.

“Joe served this union exceedingly well in every one of the many positions held,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “But it was as a member of the Law Committee that he truly shined. His voice will be sorely missed, but his legacy and the example he set will endure.”

GOP Fails in Bid to Gut Social Programs

Lacking the support needed for passage, Republican leaders were forced to call off a vote on a sweeping, $50 billion budget-cut bill last week that would have cut a number of vital social programs, including Medicaid, student loans and food stamps.

“It was a bill that was anti-family, anti-taxpayer, and anti-American. By having to pull it today, it is a failure on the part of the Republicans,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “We made the issues in that budget too hot for the Republicans to handle. They heard from the American people.”

Many Republicans have vowed to renew efforts to pass the budget cuts this week despite strong opposition from Democrats and many moderate Republicans.

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