iMail for Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hurricane Ike Relief Appeal

As Hurricane Ike roared toward the Texas coast, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger established a task force to assist Machinists Union members impacted by the storm.

Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., and Community Services Director Maria Cordone are coordinating the efforts of IAM Grand Lodge Representatives on the ground and staff from several affected District Lodges.

First job for the task force is to account for IAM members in the storm-ravaged areas and help provide access to much-needed resources. As many as 5,000 IAM members in South Texas may have been affected.

“We have a far larger density of IAM members in the South Texas area than we’ve had in past disasters, and we’re working hard to find out the extent of our members’ losses,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “The scale of our task is far larger than Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma combined. We are counting on the generosity of our IAM family to help in this time of need.”

Any member who has been impacted by the storm, or has information about other impacted members is asked to contact the Machinists Union at

Contributions of non-perishable food, clothing can be sent to: District 161, 330 Belden Street, Lake Charles, LA 70601 (337) 433-2000. Monetary donations can be sent directly to the “IAM Disaster Relief Fund” in care of the Community Services Department, 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, 20772.
“As quickly as these funds are received, they will be distributed directly to IAM families on the basis of need,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger and GST Warren Mart in a letter being mailed to locals and districts. “Fellow members of our union need our help. They need it now. We are confident you will join us in responding to that need.”

Convention Delegates Approve Strike Benefits Formula

On the final day of the historic 37th Grand Lodge Convention in Orlando, FL, delegates approved a proposition designed to link increases in weekly strike benefits to the balance of the IAM Strike Fund.

According to the formula proposed by the Law Committee and approved by delegates, weekly strike pay would increase from $150 to $175 per week when the Strike Fund balance exceeds $150 million. Each additional increase of $25 million in the overall balance would further increase weekly strike pay by an additional $25 per week.

The balance of the IAM Strike Fund currently stands at approximately $122 million and is regularly replenished with 10 percent of each month’s Grand Lodge per capita tax, as well as with revenue from investments derived from Strike Fund assets. Any decrease in the Strike Fund balance would result in a decrease in benefits to the previous level, but not below $150 per week. The first increase would take effect as soon as the fund reaches $150 million.

Winners Named in 2008 Newsletter & Web Competition

Winners of the 2008 IAM Newsletter and Website Contest and Kalaski Award were announced at the 37th Grand Lodge Convention in Orlando, FL. Doug Curler of Local Lodge 66 in Milwaukee, WI received the Robert J. Kalaski Award for outstanding service in union communications. Curler is the editor of the Local’s Badger Lodge News, maintains the local’s website, also finds time to be the Lodge Secretary-Treasurer and keeps active in a host of community and local activities. “This award is not just for your work as a Communicator, which is deserving of this award all by itself,” said IAM Communications Director Rick Sloan, “but the dedication that you bring to everything you do for this union and your fellow members.”

For the 2008 IAM Newsletter and Website Contest, top awards for General Excellence in the newsletter category went to IAM District 141 of Chicago, IL for The Messenger and Local 2319 of Tampa, FL for the The Ledger. First place for Best Newsletter Layout and Design went to District 141’s The Messenger and to Local Lodge 141 of Detroit, MI for The Transporter. First place awards for Best Feature Story in the newsletter category went to District 751 of Seattle, WA for the Aero Mechanic and Local Lodge 66 of Milwaukee, WI for the Badger Lodge News.

In the website category, top honors for General Excellence went to District Lodge 947 ( of Long Beach, CA and Local Lodge 764 ( of Vancouver, BC. First place awards for Best Website Layout and Design went to District Lodge 70 ( in Wichita, KS and to Local Lodge 764 ( of Vancouver, BC.

“The web stewards, editors and Communicators in our union do a first-rate job,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Congratulations to our winners and thanks to everyone who works so hard to maintain the websites and newsletters that our members rely on.”

Click here for a complete list of contest winners.

Tennessee Members Balk at Vought Pension Proposal

In the midst of the most serious financial crisis in years, with banks and investment companies falling like dominoes, company negotiators for Vought Aircraft in Nashville, TN, stated their intention to propose replacing junior workers’ defined benefit pension plans with a 401(k) plan that is keyed to the very industry that is now coming apart at the seams. 

“Billions of dollars invested in 401(k) accounts are dissolving at this very moment,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “This is the worst possible time to replace a secure defined benefit pension plan with a risky substitute that places significant risk on the workers themselves.”

Nearly 1,000 members of Local 735 in Nashville, TN, work at the Vought facility which performs aviation subcontracting for Airbus, Cessna, Lockheed and others. The current five -year contract at the plant expires on September 27, 2008. 

“The highly skilled workers at Vought are worthy of an industry-leading contract,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “They deserve the IAM aerospace standard, which is a defined benefit pension plan and a 401(k).” 

“District 711 leadership and the Local Lodge Negotiating Committee are courageously taking on the fight against this attack upon their retirement security,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge. “This local has made many sacrifices for this company in past years, and they are standing with their membership to secure a world-class contract, with absolutely no takeaways.”

WWW Center Hosts ULA Negotiating Committees

Negotiating committees from Florida, Alabama and California gathered at the Winpisinger Center to prepare for upcoming contract negotiations the United Space Alliance.

IAM representatives from Decatur, AL, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL are joining forces this week at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Placid Harbor, MD to prepare for upcoming negotiations with the United Launch Alliance (ULA). The ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin to provide launch services to the U.S. government.

The elected negotiating committees are going through the Winpisinger Center’s comprehensive Negotiations Preparation for Bargaining Committees class. By simulating all stages of contract negotiations with experienced staff from the Winpisinger Center and the IAM Strategic Resources Department, the class gives negotiating committee members invaluable experience before actual negotiations with ULA opens on October 7th, 2008.

“This is a unique class because not only are we meeting to prepare for contract negotiations, but we are also working together to develop a Master Agreement with the United Launch Alliance,” said Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis. “Our goal is to develop the best possible contract proposal for submission to the ULA on behalf of all of our membership.”

The Winpisinger Center’s Negotiations Preparations class provides intensive training in bargaining strategies, contract costing, strategic planning, contract labor regulations and the law and more. Since its start in 2006, the Negotiations Preparation class has doubled the number of training sessions offered each year and the demand is still growing.

“The Negotiation Preparation class is one of many courses we have added or updated to ensure IAM representatives at all levels have the best training available,” said Winpisinger Center Director Chris Wagoner. “We welcome the ULA negotiating committees and look forward to working with them for successful contract negotiations.”