iMail for Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bush Vetoes Children’s Health Insurance

With total disregard to what the majority of Americans want, including members of his own party, President Bush vetoed legislation yesterday that would have provided new funding to cover an additional 4 million of the nation’s neediest children under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The program, set to expire September 30, has been continued through a stop-gap bill that will be in effect through mid-November.

Bush’s veto emphasizes how distant his priorities are from those of the American public. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed their disbelief. “Unfortunately, I believe that some have given the president bad advice on this matter, because I believe that supporting this bipartisan compromise to provide health coverage to low-income children is the morally right thing to do. I hope that we can muster enough votes to overturn this veto,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Many Republicans joined nearly every Democrat in the House and Senate and voted to renew the program for children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford health insurance. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md, announced October 18 as the date the House will attempt to override the veto. Lawmakers will be working hard until then to find enough votes. The Senate already has enough votes to override.

Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, summed up Bush’s veto this way: “I believe this is an irresponsible use of the veto pen. I hope the House can garner enough votes to override the President.”

Union Membership Key to Higher Wages

Union membership substantially improves both the pay and benefits of low-wage workers, according to a recent report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

The study, Unions and Upward Mobility for Low-Wage Workers examined 15 low-wage occupations and found those workers who were unionized earned roughly 16 percent – about $1.75 an hour – more than non-unionized workers. The CEPR report also found low-wage union workers were 25 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 25 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension.

These findings, combined with previous studies highlighting the benefits of unionization, further reinforce the need to make the Employee Free Choice Act a key issue heading into the 2008 elections.
“These positive effects of collective bargaining – due in an important part to the role that unionization plays in giving employees a voice in their workplaces – argue that unionization is a key element of an effective strategy to build a strong and more inclusive economy,” the report concludes.

NSPS Reform Clears Major Hurdle

By a 92-3 vote, the Senate passed the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization bill (HR 1585) earlier this week. The legislation includes language to fundamentally reform the Pentagon’s contentious personnel plan, the National Security Personnel System (NSPS).  “We were very concerned that the Senate would not pass the Defense Authorization bill this year, and that our NSPS reform language would die with it,” said NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 President Rick Brown. “We are pleased to see this bill is passed and headed to conference.”

In the coming months, the House and Senate conferees will hammer out the differences between the two versions of the bill. The Senate language does not go as far as the House version to restore basic employee rights like collective bargaining and fair employee appeals.  The Senate version also fails to address the pay-for-performance system.

“This Senate vote is another win for federal employees,” said IAM Government Employees Director Frank Carelli. “Our members worked hard putting pressure on the Senate to get this bill passed and won’t stop until the anti-worker NSPS is reformed.”

Judy Pierce Named Sister of the Month

The IAM Women’s Department has named Judy Pierce of Local Lodge 733, District 70 in Wichita, KS the U.S. Sister of the Month for October.

Judy has been an IAM member for 42 years. She started work as a teenager at Beech Aircraft Company in 1965, and has been a loyal and highly involved member ever since. One of the first women to work in the Chemical Milling department at Beech, she went on to become the first woman in Local 733 history to win a seat on the local’s negotiating committee.

Pierce has taken on multiple leadership roles in her local and district over the years, including successive terms as District 70 Secretary-Treasurer, a position she holds today. She has also served as a Shop Steward, Local Trustee, District 70 Delegate, Legislative Committee member, Women’s Committee member and Grand Lodge Delegate. In addition to her current duties as Secretary-Treasurer for the nearly 15,000 members of District 70, Pierce is Secretary-Treasurer for the 2008 Grand Lodge Host Committee, serves as President of the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation, editor of the only labor newspaper in Kansas and Vice President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).

The Canadian sister is selected once every two months and Karene Strachan of Local Lodge 2603 in Winnipeg, Manitoba remains the pick for Canada.

The IAM “Sister of the Month” is an effort to motivate women to become more involved in their union by recognizing their hard work and dedication. If you’d like to nominate someone, download the nomination form and submit it to the IAM Women’s Department.

Detroit Local 698 Holds Guide Dogs Golf Outing

Motor City Lodge 698 and District Lodge 60 held their 2nd Annual Golf Outing to benefit Guide Dogs of America (GDA) on September 8, 2007 at the Timber Trace Golf Club in Pinckney, MI.

Dozens of members, families and friends participated in the event that raised nearly $24,000 for the GDA.
“It is with great appreciation that I thank the sponsors, participants and volunteers for their generous contribution and time,” said Local 698 President Stuart Proctor. “Due to their kindness this was a very successful outing.” A brochure of the event can be downloaded here.