iMail for Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rally for Freightliner Jobs

Two days after the last commercial Freightliner rolled off the assembly line in Portland, OR, hundreds of workers rallied in front of the Portland Federal Building on April 4 to protest the trade deals that are allowing good paying union jobs to be exported.

More than 800 jobs in Portland were lost because the Freightliner Company is moving production of Freightliner brand trucks to Mexico. Workers at the rally complained that Freightliner was using NAFTA to put profits before the interests of the community.

Joining the protest were the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, Teamsters Local 305, Painters Local 1094, SEIU Local 49, ILWU Local 8, and other unions and groups.

The rally, organized by IAM District 24 and covered by all of Portland’s major television and radio news stations, also focused on the expiration of “Fast Track” trade negotiation authority at the end of June and called on Oregon’s Senators to oppose its renewal.

NASA Probes Space Program Cutbacks

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill heard from NASA workers who are deeply concerned about proposed budget cutbacks that could impact the future of the U.S. space program. “The highly skilled workforce at the Cape could be up for grabs as NASA transitions between the shuttle and the Ares/Orion program,” said District 166 DBR Johnny Walker, who testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on behalf of more than 2,300 IAM members currently working in and around Cape Canaveral. Click here to view an IAM video of Walker’s testimony. Click here to read Walker’s opening statement to the Committee.

Walker was invited to testify by Committee Chairman Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) following a letter writing campaign organized by District 166, the Southern Territory and the IAM Legislative Department. “We believe our members, some of whom have worked at the Cape for more than 30 years, could tell their own story better than anyone else,” said Walker.

“The voices of these workers need to be heard as our lawmakers make the decisions on the future of this program,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “The IAM will continue to make sure the concerns of all NASA workers are heard. I want to thank DBR Walker for his fine leadership in the matter, and for his testimony. On behalf of the entire IAM, I want to thank Senator Nelson for listening to the concerns of the NASA workers, and making sure we have a seat at the table as his committee considers this issue.”

Retired GLR George Able Celebrates 100th Birthday

Brother George W. Able, who retired in 1972 as an IAM Grand Lodge Representative (GLR), celebrated his 100th birthday on April 9.

Able joined the IAM in 1933 as an auto mechanic, initiating into Local 762 in Akron, OH (the lodge later merged with Local 1363 in Cleveland). In 1962, he was elected Business Representative, and by 1969, then International President Roy Siemiller saw something exceptional in George and appointed him Special Representative for the Great Lakes Territory. George became a GLR a year later.

Retired to Florida, George met and courted wife Nancy after their spouses had died. They married just nine years ago when George was 91.

“We’re living a good life due in large part to my IAM pension,” said George, who attributes his longevity to good genes – his paternal great-grandfather lived passed 100, and his maternal grandmother well into her 90s – his baby sister is 97.

Sounding young and on the ball, the centenarian and his wife keep up with the times, even having an email address. But George said his eyes won’t allow him to use the computer much anymore. He says he’s still “fairly active” though, and looks forward to his grandson and granddaughter coming to town to help celebrate his birthday.


NAFTA ‘ Super Highway’ Would Link Canada, Mexico

An international super-highway system is being proposed that would span the nation’s mid-section and create a direct link between the U.S.-Canada border in Detroit, Michigan and the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

The first phase of the massive project is a network of privately funded, limited-access toll roads in Texas called the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC). The super corridor would be 1,200 feet wide and incorporate existing and new highways and will provide for freight and high-speed commuter railways.

Critics, who refer to the proposed project as the “ NAFTA Super Highway,” are concerned the thoroughfare could facilitate the movement of Chinese goods landed at Mexican ports, further widening a record trade deficit and costing even more U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The super highway is being promoted by the North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc. (NASCO), a privately funded, non-governmental entity that is hoping to develop the international roadway as part of a network of roads and waterways to facilitate cargo flow around the country. To watch a video about the project on YouTube click here.  .


IAM Website Gets a Facelift

Click on today and you’ll immediately notice new features, including a built-in video flash player that displays the most recent IAM videos from the Machinists News Network. Videos can now be viewed from the GoIAM homepage by using the convenient scroll bar to choose the videos you want to see. An archive of past IAM videos is available simply by clicking on the “Media Library” button.

Another updated feature is streamlined iMail signup feature. Simply type your email address and click “Go” and you are registered.

Bush Administration Wakes up to China Piracy

In a long overdue move, the Bush administration announced they will file two formal complaints against China today at the Word Trade Organization. The suits aim to force China to take a tougher stance on rampant counterfeiting of American movies, book and other goods and remove unnecessary restrictions on the distribution American products.

After years of heavy rhetoric and little action, the administration has come under mounting Congressional pressure to put a halt to China’s unfair trade practices and reduce the U.S.’s massive $232 billion trade deficit with China.

The administration also announced last month it would impose tariffs on imports of glossy paper from China and in February they announced another WTO case charging China with providing illegal incentives to Chinese manufacturers to export their products.

While the administration’s recent actions are a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done. China continues to ignore fundamental human rights, including the right form free trade unions. China also continues to blatantly undervalue their currency while maintaining wages and working conditions that fuel the jobs crisis in North American as legacy manufacturers continue to move production to China.