iMail for Thursday, October 12, 2006

Local 41 Photog Snaps 1 st Place Winner

The winners of the 2006 IAM Photo Contest have been announced, and Local 41 member Ben Castic has won first-place for the second year in a row. This year’s entry, entitled, “Tunnel Vision” shows IAM member Gus Patakas as he deburrs a furnace section cylinder at South Side Machine Works in St. Louis, MO. Local 498 member Mike Kowalsky took second-place honors, and Ed Griffith of Local 2061 won third.

Winning photographs will be included in the 2007 IAM calendar. A portion from the sales of the calendar is donated to Guide Dogs of America. The IAM raised more than $23,000 for the GDA from last year’s calendar sales.

Honorable Mention winners are: Thomas Pinski, LL 837-B; Dave McWaters, LL 1788; David Cummins, LL 2003; Ronald Oliver, LL 837-A; Nicole Callahan, LL 1713; Philippe Deschênes, LL 869; Steve Albrecht, LL 1259; Andrea Gray, LL 1245; Frank Kammerer, LL 912; Joseph Fortunato, LL 1947; and Thomas Ringgold, LL 325.

“We had more members enter the Photo Contest this year than ever before,” said Director of Communications Rick Sloan. “And the quality of the photos submitted certainly raised the bar for future contests. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all who participated.”

The winning photos will be posted for on-line viewing as soon as the 2007 IAM calendar comes off the press… stay tuned!

Unions Join Forces to Protect Voting Rights

The IAM is joining forces with AFL-CIO unions and allied organizations in a nationwide effort to ensure minority voting rights are protected in the upcoming mid-term elections.

“From the Florida debacle that delivered the White House to George Bush in 2000 to the vote count scandals in Ohio four years later, it is clear that partisan efforts were made to suppress fundamental voting rights in minority communities,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux. “Local union activists and volunteers will take part in the AFL-CIO 2006 Voter Protection Program, targeting 25 cities across eight key states, including Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”

Voter turnout is critical in midterm elections, where as many as 30 million fewer voters participate due to the absence of a presidential contest on the ballot. “There are 36 states electing governors in addition to 436 House seats and 33 Senate seats up for grabs in this election,” said Babineaux. “The stakes could hardly be any higher.”

Illinois Local 701 Celebrates Century Mark at F.H. Ayers

Mechanics Local 701 recently joined with for F.H. Ayer Manufacturing Company in Chicago Heights, IL to celebrate the company’s 100 th year in business. Eighteen Local 701 members there repair rotating equipment, rebuild large pumps and inspect ships doing a power train analysis.

“This is a highly skilled and motivated group,” said Mechanics Local 701 Business Representative Bob Lessmann. “We are pleased to have them as part of the Local 701 team and they’re pleased to be part of a successful organization like the IAM.”

U.S. Posts Record Trade Deficit

Spurred by an expanding trade gap with China and high oil prices, the U.S. trade deficit jumped 2.7 percent to a record $69.86 billion in August.

The trade deficit for the year stands at $522 billion, putting the U.S. on pace to surpass last year’s record $716 billion deficit.

The U.S. trade deficit with China was a record $22 billion in August, a 15 percent increase from the previous month. China, meanwhile, posted their second-biggest trade surplus ever at $15.3 billion in September. Despite the growing trade gap with China and continued U.S. job loss, the U.S. has yet to take action to put a stop to China’s currency manipulation and unfair trade practices. 

Wal-Mart’s $4 Drugs No Consolation for Employees

In the midst of the hoopla about Wal-Mart cutting prices on some generic drugs to $4, the company quietly confirmed plans to cut health care coverage for its employees.

As of January 1, Wal-Mart will eliminate all of its low-deductible health care plans for new hires and increase medical premiums on existing plans. The remaining “benefit” plans can have a monthly premium as low as $11, but a deductible that can reach $6,000, according to The Washington Post. This move is sure to push more employees off the company’s health care plan.

While even Wal-Mart critics acknowledged that lowering the cost of some 290 generic drugs to $4 was a good thing when the plan was announced last week, the fact is – a fact the company ignores – the plan does little to tackle the high costs of health care for the uninsured, which more and more includes its own employees.

Edward Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said, “The federal government should look to its friends at Wal-Mart and see that negotiating bulk discounts on prescription drugs can reduce the cost to consumers.” In the meantime, he added, “this action by Wal-Mart in no way absolves it of its many failures as a responsible employer.”

Wal-Mart is on track to make record profits again this year ($11 billion in 2005), yet it fails to provide company health care to over half of its 1.39 million employees. Instead, Wal-Mart chooses to pass on that cost to taxpayers at an estimated $1.2 billion every year.

Connecticut Local 743 Wins $56,355 for Member

Thirty-year Local 743 member Frank Thomas was recently presented a check for $56,355.18 in back pay and overtime as part of an arbitrator’s decision to settle a grievance over unjust termination. Thomas was terminated over a dispute at Hamilton Sundstrand-United Technologies Corp., in Windsor Locks, CT on Dec. 5, 2005.

At the conclusion of the grievance procedure, an arbitrator ruled Frank should be returned to work with full back pay including lost overtime wages.