Ignoring a blood-soaked record of human rights violations that includes murder, kidnapping and torture of trade union leaders, President George Bush is urging Congress to approve a free trade agreement with Columbia, calling it essential to America’s national security interests.
The bid by the Bush administration to secure yet another free trade deal was immediately attacked by lawmakers, labor leaders and human rights activists across the hemisphere.
“The IAM strongly opposes the U.S. Columbia Free Trade Act (FTA) and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure its defeat,” declared IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Forcing consideration of this NAFTA-style trade agreement is especially outrageous given the hundreds of murders that have been committed against trade unionists over the past few years. Moreover, this trade deal comes at a time when record numbers of U.S. workers are losing their jobs as more and more corporations relocate outside our country.”
The chances for the legislation to win Congressional approval appear slim, with Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), co-founder of the House Trade Working Group, declaring the Columbia FTA dead on arrival. “If the Bush administration really believes this agreement is vital to national security interests, it would not send it to certain defeat,” said Michaud. “They would work with Democrats to stop labor leader assassinations and address forced displacement and murder of Afro-Columbians.”
William W. Winpisinger Center Director Chris Wagoner plays a stubborn management representative in a simulated negotiation session with IAM members of Alabama Local 2003.
Two of the IAM’s most important issues are featured in a pair of Machinists News Network (MNN) videos debuting this week on www.goiam.org.
In ‘ Tankers Today, Fighters Tomorrow?,’ Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski speaks to the annual convention of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO in Philadelphia and hammers home the case for reversing the decision to award a $40 billion tanker contract to Airbus instead of Boeing. “This isn’t just a union issue,” declared Michalski, who criticized the government’s bidding process for never evaluating the long-term employment impact of outsourcing a multi-billion dollar defense contract. Michalski also urged delegates at the convention to contact lawmakers and demand hearings on the tanker contract.
In ‘ A ‘Not So Mock’ Negotiations,’ the bargaining committee from Local 2003 in Daleville, AL, travels to the IAM’s education facility in Southern Maryland for a week of training that included simulated bargaining sessions and mock confrontations with management representatives.
“This kind of training takes it from the white tower theory to real application,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Frank Santos, a seasoned veteran of multiple negotiations who helped guide the mock bargaining sessions. “It’s important for committees to understand what goes on in negotiations, especially if they’ve never been in one. This also helps bond committees.”
In less than three weeks, the novice and veteran members on the Local 2003 committee will be negotiating for real on behalf of 3,100 IAM members employed by Army Fleet Service (AFS), a division of L3 Communications at Ft. Rucker. The training provided new committee members with a taste for the stress, the frustration and the rewards of real negotiations.
“From my negotiating experience, this (training) is as close as you’re going to get to sitting across the table and speaking to the CEO’s,” said District 75 Business Rep. Tony Blevins.
The IAM announced ratification of a collective bargaining agreement reached last month covering 3,300 Mechanic & Related employees at US Airways. Highlights of the agreement include base wage and license premium increases, improved overtime rates, new shift premiums and participation in the IAM National Pension Plan, a secure multi-employer pension plan.
“District Lodge 142 and the negotiating committee performed an excellent job under the most difficult of circumstances,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “I thank the members for their full support. Without them, this agreement would not have been possible.”
The agreement, which will be effective through December 31, 2011, was ratified by 65 percent of the voting membership.
“Our members have approved an agreement that provides higher wages, a sound pension and enhanced job security,” said District 142 President Tom Higginbotham. “This agreement allows all US Airways Mechanic & Related employees to work under a single agreement for the first time since the America West merger.”
Milwaukee Local 78 Negotiating Committee (left to right: Craig Norman, Tim Posnanski, Scott Parr, Manuel Talavera and Carrie Rohde) Not pictured are HPWO Director Don Kennedy and IAM Collective Bargaining Director Tom O’Heron.
IAM members at Local 78 in Milwaukee, WI, followed the recommendation of their bargaining committee and overwhelmingly approved a new four-year agreement with Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
Highlights of the agreement include wage increases of nearly $3 per hour for all classifications while protecting existing health care coverage and pension benefits. New employees hired after April 1 of this year will receive lower initial starting wages, but their pay will increase to the top of the scale over the length of the four-year contract.
Harley-Davidson also reached tentative agreements with members of the United Steelworkers, which represents 2,100 members at two locals in Milwaukee and Tomahawk, WI. Both unions extended their current labor agreements, which expired March 31, 2008, through April 4 to accommodate ratification voting.
An important part of every Grand Lodge Convention is the Commemorative Convention Book, containing ads from IAM employers as well as greetings from local and district lodges across North America. Besides providing a valuable snapshot of the size and scope of our union at the time of the convention, proceeds from the book help offset the cost of the quadrennial convention.
The May 1, 2008 deadline for ads and payments is fast approaching and local and district lodges are urged to contact Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative James (Rody) Rodehorst at 316-841-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about options to design their own ad, or select from a template.
The Machinists Union strongly opposes mergers among the major airlines for the following reasons: airline hubs will be eliminated, service frequency will be reduced, competition will be diminished, jobs will be lost, customer service will deteriorate and pension obligations will be jeopardized and fuel prices will remain unaffected by a merger. The IAM is part of a coalition of consumer advocates, political leaders and passenger rights groups who oppose the mega-mergers, but we need your help.
All IAM members are asked to contact their elected representatives and urge their opposition for airline mergers that will only benefit airline executives and bankers. Click here to send pre-written emails or to compose your own personal message to send to your elected leaders.
This year’s IAM Legislative Conference will be held May 19-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. Delegate registration begins on May 19 at 9:00 a.m. and again on May 20 from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.
The conference will kick off on May 19 at 1:30 p.m. with opening remarks by Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, who will serve as permanent chairperson. IP Tom Buffenbarger will deliver the keynote address.
The general session will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon on May 20 and 21. There will be no afternoon sessions scheduled those days so that delegates may lobby on Capitol Hill. Call the hotel at 202-737-1234 to make your room reservations. Cut-off date for reduced room rates is April 11. For a copy of the official call letter, click here.