iMail for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Board Rules for IAM at Mercedes in Alabama

The IAM won a key legal battle this week in the fight to overcome anti-union activities by Mercedes-Benz officials at the automaker’s assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, AL.

In a ruling hailed as an important victory for Mercedes’ workers and IAM organizers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) agreed with an IAM complaint charging Mercedes-Benz with violating the federal law that bars employers from “interfering with, restraining or coercing employees” seeking to organize a union or bargain collectively with an employer.

In his ruling, NLRB Regional Director Martin A. Arlook determined that Mercedes maintained a policy and practice of closely monitoring the conversations of employees, during work time, who support the IAM. Arlook also said the surveillance was intended to discourage other employees from engaging in union activities.

“From the beginning of our organizing drive, Mercedes officials said publicly they would remain neutral on the subject of union representation at the Alabama facility,” said GLR Don Barker. “Their actions inside the plant, however, have been calculated to discourage and intimidate employees from signing authorization cards.”

Workers at Mercedes’ only North American plant approached the IAM earlier this year after determining that an IAM contract would be their best protection against changes roiling the U.S. auto industry.

RallyAround.Us Gets JUICE Rolling

With 1,500 names already posted on a virtual “speakers wall” that is expected to grow dramatically in the days ahead, the IAM’s RallyAround.Us campaign is giving union members an opportunity to tell politicians that they plan to vote their pocketbooks in the upcoming midterm elections.

Launched less than a week ago at a Washington, D.C. press conference covered by C-SPAN, the ‘RallyAround.Us’  website is part of the JUICE campaign focusing attention on key races for governor. The IAM has identified five pocketbook issues that are critical to Machinists members: Jobs; Utility rates; Insurance premiums; Commuter woes and Educational equity (JUICE).

Log onto ‘RallyAround.Us’  and add your name to its virtual wall. You will be joining thousands of working men and women who pledge to go vote on November 7 th for candidates who have the JUICE.

Women’s Dept. Honors Activists for September

The IAM Women’s Department named Carol Treiber and Concetta Hoyt of Local 1529 in Sidney, NY the U.S. Sisters of the Month (http://www.goiam.org/index.php/headquarters/176-sister-of-the-month/1864-september-sister-of-the-month) for September, 2006. Kathryn McCarthy of Local Lodge 11 in Delta, British Coumbia repeats as the Canadian Sister of the Month (Canadian honorees are chosen every three months).

Treiber and Hoyt are both employed at Amphenol Aerospace where employees recently made extraordinary efforts to keep the facility operating after massive flooding hit the plant. Treiber is a third generation union member and has served as Shop Steward; Women’s Committee member; Recording Secretary; District Delegate and has been active in the New York State Council of Machinists where she was elected Vice President.

“If you want to beco me more active and make a difference, take advantage of as many educational opportunities as you can,” recommends Treiber. “Surround yourself with supportive peers, never take no for an answer and if at first you don’t succeed, stay positive and try again.”

Concetta “Connie” Hoyt has been an IAM member for 29 years. Hoyt has served as Lodge Recording Secretary. Hoyt follows in the footsteps of her father, who was Local Lodge President for 22 years, and her uncles, previous lodge officers and stewards. “Don’t be afraid to take that first step to become more involved,” says Hoyt. “Never give up, listen to your members, get involved and stay involved, but above all, ‘Keep it honest!’”

Visit the Women’s Department page (http://www.goiam.org/content.cfm?cID=388) on www.goaim.org for information on nominating a Sister in your lodge for “IAM Sister of the Month.”

IAM Mourns Safety Activist Gus Gustin

Long time IAM safety activist and former Local 776C President Gerald “Gus” Gustin passed away on August 31, 2006 after being stricken with a heart attack. Gus served over 20 years on the local Safety Committee, working tirelessly for fellow members at the Lockheed Martin plant in Ft. Worth, TX. In addition, Gus gave generously of his time and expertise to help train IAM members throughout North America as an Associate Instructor for IAM CREST.

“Gus was not only a union brother but a true friend,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “So much of his working life was dedicated to improving the working conditions of his brothers and sisters throughout the IAM. We are thankful for his contributions to our union and we will miss him greatly.”

Lethal Lung Issues Haunt WTC Workers

Despite early assurance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the air around the wreckage pile at the World Trade Center was safe to breathe, nearly three-quarters of the rescue and recovery workers are suffering from lung problems and high rates of lung abnormalities, according to a new health study.

The study, conducted by doctors at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, is based on medical exams of 9,500 ground zero workers and is the latest to link serious illness to exposure to the toxic dust that swirled around the site after the buildings collapsed.

“There should no longer be any doubt about the health effects of (working at) the World Trade Center. Our patients are sick,” said Dr, Robin Herbert, co-director of the group that is investigating exposure to dust at the site.

Among the study’s key findings: Almost 70 percent of WTC responders had new or worsening lung symptoms; Sixty-one percent of workers who had no symptoms prior to working at the site developed lung symptoms and one-third of those tested had abnormal lung function tests, double the rate expected in the general population.

Former Wal-Mart Attorney to Head DOL Wage Division

The Bush administration sidestepped the congressional approval process and announced former Wal-Mart attorney Paul DeCamp will be given a recess appointment to serve as head of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division.

The recess appointment comes amid speculation that Senate Democrats planned to block the nomination when they return from their August recess. The maneuver allows DeCamp to serve without Senate confirmation until the end of the Senate’s 2007 session.

President Bush has drawn harsh criticism for nominating DeCamp to a position designed to advocate for working men and women, due in large part to DeCamp’s record of hostility towards protecting overtime wages for workers.

DeCamp represented Wal-Mart in a massive discrimination lawsuit that charged the corporate giant with systematically denying more than 1.5 million women the same pay and promotions as male employees. Bush’s appointee was also involved in the Department of Labor’s lackluster Gulf Coast activities following Hurricane Katrina.