iMail for Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Connecticut Workers Protest Tanker Contract

At a rally in East Hartford, CT, this week, union members, business leaders, elected officials and workers from across Connecticut voiced their collective outrage over the awarding of a $40 billion Air Force tanker contract to Airbus and Northrop Grumman.

“If we don’t maintain our industrial base and skilled workforce, our national security is in jeopardy,” said District 26 Directing Business Representative Everett Corey. “We need to start with this contract – keep the jobs here in the U.S., where the people are paying the taxes that fund this program.”

Connecticut stands to lose more than 4,000 jobs at Pratt & Whitney in addition to numerous jobs at smaller vendors and suppliers. At a time when our nation faces a looming recession and record trade deficits, it is unconscionable to award a multi-billion contract to another nation rather than utilize our own skilled workers.

California Rep. Laura Richardson Seeks Re-Election

It seems there’s no stopping freshman Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA 37th) who is seeking re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.  Rep. Richardson, who has been a member of Local 1930 in Long Beach, CA since 2000, is building on the support from union members and working families that helped her win a runoff election last August to fill the unexpired term of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), who passed away last April.

IAM volunteers from Western Territory Locals and Districts made house calls, manned phone banks and distributed more than 160,000 pieces of literature on her behalf. The effort paid off, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swearing in the IAM member to Congress on September 4, 2007.

Richardson represents the 37th District of California, an area comprised of Compton, Carson, much of the City of Long Beach and parts of South Los Angeles.  Rep. Richardson also serves on the influential Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Science and Technology. 

“Laura Richardson has never forgotten her union roots,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “She supports the Employee Free Choice Act and is a strong advocate for reforming flawed trade laws, providing decent health care, creating good jobs and bringing back vocational education.  She is truly a voice for working families.”

To watch an interview with Representative Richardson, click here.  Visit her website at

Paul Shemanski Named Special Assistant to GST

General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart announced today that Grand Lodge Representative Paul Shemanski has been tapped to serve as Special Assistant to the General Secretary-Treasurer. A third generation machinist, Shemanski joined the IAM more than 37 years ago while employed at Michigan Wheel Corporation.

“Paul is a great addition to our staff here at Headquarters,” said GST Mart. “His many years of experience in the IAM and the labor movement will enable him to hit the ground running. He’s a talented asset to the GST Department and we’re happy to have him on board.”

Prior to serving as a GLR for the Eastern Territory, Shemanski served as an Eastern Territory Special Representative and as Directing Business Representative and Business Representative for former District Lodge 97.

Shemanski has also served as a board member of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, the Western Michigan Industrial Board, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Advisory Board and as Vice President of the Michigan State Council of Machinists.

Master Agreements Ratified at Can Companies

IAM members at Crown, Cork & Seal locations in La Crosse, WI, Portland, OR, Omaha, NE, Mankato, MN and Olympia, WA voted overwhelmingly this week to ratify a new three-year agreement with the Philadelphia-based can company.

In addition to wage increases and improvements to the members’ pension benefits, the IAM-Crown Coordinated Bargaining Committee preserved the existing Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) formula, a key issue identified in pre-negotiation surveys. The Committee also maintained the level of benefits in members’ health care with minimal adjustment in costs.

The successful negotiations, which began in earnest on March 19, relied heavily on membership surveys, regular communication and shop floor solidarity that continued throughout the intensive eight-day bargaining period. “The IAM Strategic Resources Dept. also provided invaluable assistance to the Coordinated Bargaining Committee,” said IAM Coordinated Bargaining Director Tom O’Heron.

The agreement at Crown, Cork & Seal closely mirrors another accord reached at Rexam Can Co., where 150 IAM members in Forest Park, GA and Kent, WA ratified similar terms earlier this month.

Aloha Airlines Ceases Passenger Operations

After a history that spanned more than 60 years, Aloha Airlines ceased passenger operations on April 1, 2008. International and district staff have been dispatched to work closely with local lodge representatives and assist the membership in any way possible.

Employees at Aloha fought hard for the airline’s survival, making extreme sacrifices during the company’s first trip through bankruptcy court. However, predatory pricing, exorbitantly high fuel prices and a distressing lack of government regulation conspired against Aloha’s success.

The IAM will continue fighting to protect as many jobs as possible, and assist those that lose their jobs as a result of Aloha’s demise. The IAM’s Department of Employment Services will assist members affected by Aloha’s shutdown.

Clark Steel Workers in Ohio Ratify New Contract

Workers at Clark Steel Co., in Middletown, OH, who voted last year to join the IAM, are working for higher wages and improved benefits this week after they overwhelmingly ratified a new contract.

The three-year accord features increases in the company’s 401(k) contribution and secures existing health benefits by placing caps on costs to the members of Local 1943. The new contract also provides for wage increases of three percent each year over the life of the agreement in addition to a signing bonus.

“Congratulations to GLR Jim Smith and President and Directing Business Rep. Scott Rich for their work bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “And congratulations to the IAM members at Clark Steel, who stood strong and resolute throughout the entire bargaining process.”