iMail for Thursday, September 25, 2008

Boeing Strikers Draw International Support 

International labor federations representing millions of workers around the world are weighing in with expressions of support for IAM members now in the third week of a strike at the Boeing Company.

Letters of solidarity and support have poured in from twenty-two union federations in Europe, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Spain and elsewhere. Each display a keen understanding of the battle at Boeing and the need for international solidarity in a time of unrestrained outsourcing and rampant globalization.

“We will do everything we can to ensure this company and others are under no illusions that if you take on organized labour, wherever that may be, you take us on internationally,” said Steve Turner, National Secretary of the London-based Transport Ground Workers Union. Click here to view the letters of support from union federations around the world.

Hangman’s Noose in North Carolina Triggers Outrage

The appearance of a hangman’s noose failed to intimidate members of Local W369 on strike against Moncure Plywood since July.

IAM members of Local W369 in Moncure, NC, have braved wind, rain and scorching temperatures since voting in July to strike Moncure Plywood over the company’s unfair labor practices, including bargaining in bad faith and a “final offer” that included large increases in employees’ health care premiums, mandatory overtime and other concessions.

Now in the third month of the strike, the Moncure Machinists arrived at their picket lines recently to find a hangman’s noose swinging from a tractor just inside the plant gate.

“Except for a burning cross and a white hood, there are few symbols of racism more feared and hated than a hangman’s noose,” said IAM District W2 Business Representative Melvin Montford. “Many of the striking workers here have relatives or know of friends or ancestors who were either lynched or threatened by the prospect of a lynch mob.”

Solidarity on the picket line remains strong, despite the death threat implied by the noose, according to Montford. “These men and women don’t scare easy. They know they’re fighting for their livelihoods and they’re determined to win a contract that treats them with respect and dignity.”

“This is despicable,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger about the appearance of the swinging noose. “Resorting to racist threats like this will not resolve this labor dispute, only exacerbate tensions and prolong the strike.”

The Moncure mill is owned by Greenwich, CT-based Atlas Holdings, LLC, an investment firm that operates three other locations with IAM-represented members, including Olympic Panel in Washington, Ivex Packaging in Illinois and Finch Paper in New York.

Machinists Respond to NWA Shareholder Vote

Northwest Airlines employees protested in New York and Atlanta over the proposed merger with Delta Airlines.

IAM members were an unmistakable presence both inside and outside meetings today in New York and Atlanta, where shareholders of Northwest Airlines voted to approve the airline’s merger with Delta Airlines.

Carrying signs that said “Save My Airline from Another Bankruptcy,” and marching in the shadow of a large inflatable rat, the morning rally in New York drew honks of support from passing motorists and thumbs up from pedestrians on their way to work. The IAM opposes the proposed merger as a debt-laden, job-killing boondoggle with the potential to bankrupt the combined enterprise.

“The Machinists Union believes Northwest and Delta will be unable to successfully combine their businesses without adversely impacting customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders because of the two airlines’ vastly different corporate cultures and mismatched aircraft fleets,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., who took part in the New York protest.

“The same lack of regulation that unhinged our financial markets has created cyclical havoc in the airline industry for the past 30 years, leading to countless airline bankruptcies,” said Roach. “The government must stop treating symptoms and start curing the illness plaguing the airline industry. Mergers will not help troubled airlines; sane federal regulation of the industry will.”

More information about the Machinists Union and the proposed Northwest/Delta merger is available at

Raytheon Retiree Testifies on Capitol Hill

David Lillie, a retired member of Local 933 in Tucson, AZ, testified about the suffering caused by Raytheon’s decision to cut health care coverage for 1,000 former employees.

Local 933 member David Lillie, a retiree from Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, testified today before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, about the severe personal and financial consequences of Raytheon’s decision to eliminate health care coverage for its retirees.

Lillie is one of 1,000 Raytheon retirees who were promised company-paid medical insurance under terms of a contract negotiated by Local 933 in Tucson, AZ.

“Retirees have been forced to sell a large part of their retirement dreams in order to afford the premiums they now have to pay,” testified Lillie. “More than a few retirees have had to mortgage their homes that were paid off in order to pay medical expenses that were not covered under a cheaper plan.”

In a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the retirees, U.S. District Judge David Bury ruled that the IAM contract with Raytheon “unambiguously provide vested medical benefits for retirees until age 65 at no cost.”

Despite the ruling, Raytheon is appealing Judge Bury’s decision, causing additional suffering and financial hardship for Raytheon retirees, many who have been without heath insurance since it was unilaterally terminated in 2004.

National Safety Council Elects Flynn to Director Post

The National Safety Council (NSC) this week announced the election of IAM Occupational Safety & Health and Apprenticeship Director Mike Flynn to a two-year term as a member of the NSC Board of Directors.

Flynn has served as Safety & Health director at IAM headquarters since 1996 and at the NSC as a board advisor since 2002. He is also president of IAM CREST, the IAM’s non-profit corporation for re-employment and safety training, a member of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety & Health, a visiting committee member of SpaceTEC and a board member of the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.

The IAM has been a member of the labor division within National Safety Council since the division was founded in 1960. Visit the NSC at for more information about their research, education and advocacy efforts.

Hurricane Relief Update

After visiting hurricane-devastated areas in south Texas, IAM Representatives are now asking that donations of food and clothing be sent to: Local Lodge 2198, 6640 Long Pointe Rd., Houston, TX 77059.

“This location is much closer to the area affected,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, who is touring the area and meeting with members. “We’ve had a lot of members affected and many of them have lost everything.”

Monetary donations in any amount can be sent to the IAM Disaster Fund, in care of the Community Services Department, 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, 20772.