iMail for Thursday, September 04, 2008

Boeing Machinists Vote to Strike 

IAM negotiators agreed to an emergency request from Washington Governor Chris Gregoire to extend the current IAM agreement with the Boeing Company for 48 hours after members there voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s latest offer.

The second strike in three years at Boeing will go forward if an acceptable agreement that addresses members’ concerns over job security, pensions and wages cannot be hammered out during the two-day extension. Federal mediators will assist in the effort to broker an improved agreement.

Eighty-seven percent of Machinists in Oregon, Kansas, California and Washington state voted to strike, while 80 percent voted to reject the company’s so-called “best and final” offer. The vote results leave no doubt about how members view the company’s offer and gives their negotiators unmistakable leverage at the bargaining table.

“Our job as negotiators is to do everything possible to reach an agreement and we pledged to meet anytime and anyplace to achieve that goal,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin. “We intend to honor that pledge but if Boeing fails to use this time wisely and resolve the remaining issues, this strike will be of their making.”

Hillary Clinton to Address IAM Convention

CBS correspondant Erin Moriarty interviews New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton during IAM Conversation with the Candidates in August, 2007.

On September 8th, 2008, the IAM will welcome New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton to the union’s 37th Grand Lodge Convention, where she will address a combined gathering more than 2,600 delegates and guests.

The Machinists were the first major union to endorse Sen. Clinton in August, 2007, and were among her strongest supporters throughout the primary season. This week, IAM delegates are expected to consider a presidential endorsement for the general election.

“Hillary Clinton earned the IAM’s initial endorsement by focusing on jobs, health care, education and trade – the bread and butter issues of the American middle class,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “We deeply appreciate the effort she made on behalf of our members and the millions of Americans who remain invisible to the current administration.”

Southern Illinois Mechanics Ratify Strike-Ending Accord

Members of Local 313 in Caseyville, IL, ended a month-long strike against six Illinois auto dealers this week by ratifying a new three-year labor agreement that includes wage increases in each year of the contract, pension improvements and a forty-hour work week guarantee.

Nearly 80 automotive technicians and service writers voted to strike job security, wages and benefits. A key sticking point was the cost of employees’ health insurance, which was resolved with the help of a federal mediator.

“This group stood strong and we were able to bring back a contract worthy of ratification,” said District 9 Business Representative Dave Weaver. “Our members are aware that dealers are experiencing tough times and need to keep costs under control.”

The strike began on August 1, 2008 after talks broke down with dealers who are part of the St. Clair-Madison Automobile Dealers Association.

EPI Releases State of Working America

The average American worker is worse off now than they were when the recession ended in 2001, according to The Economic Policy Institute’s The State of Working America 2008/2009. The report finds that despite growth in productivity, there has been weak job growth and stagnant or falling household income.

There has been a 1.1 percent decline in labor force participation, which translates to about 1.4 million people who could otherwise have been working or actively job-hunting, according to the report.“If job growth from 2000 to 2007 had matched the 1990s cycle, the economy would have added 7 million more jobs than it did,” said co-author Heidi Shierholz. “The weak jobs situation means that the potential of millions of productive, hard-working Americans has been left untapped — a profound disservice to them, their families, and the economy as a whole.”

Another finding from the report is the growth in income inequality among Americans, with the real income for the median family falling by 1.1 percent from 2000-2006, while income more than tripled for the top 1 percent.

Minnesota Machinists Talk Mergers at State Fair

Minnesota’s Machinists took their fight to block the proposed Delta-Northwest merger to the 2008 Minnesota State Fair where volunteers discussed what the State of Minnesota and the traveling public will lose if the Northwest/Delta merger is allowed to take place.

Member of Local 1833 in Bloomington, MN, launched the Just Say No to Airline Mergers petition drive from the state fair’s AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion. The new Labor pavilion is the home to the AFL-CIO unions in Minnesota where they can talk to the public about their trades and the labor movement.

More than 3,000 fairgoers signed a petition against the impending merger after they learned of the job loss and diminished service it will cause in Minneapolis/St. Paul and the surrounding communities.

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