iMail for Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boeing Seeks No Pensions for New Hires 

In 2005, IAM members at Boeing facilities in Kansas, Oregon and Washington rejected a divisive contract offer from the company and voted overwhelmingly to strike.

Despite record profits and a long list of backordered aircraft, the Boeing Company is signaling it will try to replace its traditional defined benefit pension plan for all new hires with a 401(k) plan when negotiations with the IAM begin on May 9.

Boeing’s lead labor negotiator, Doug Knight, outlined the planned attack on pensions in an interview with Seattle Times reporter Dominic Gates. The article, published April 18, drew an immediate response from union leaders at Boeing.

“This proposal is unacceptable,” declared District 751 President Tom Wroblewski, who recalled earlier attempts by Boeing to pit member against member. “They didn’t fall for it in 2005. They won’t fall for it this time.”

Machinists at Boeing struck the aerospace giant in 2005 rather that accept a contract offer that undermined the national agreement covering members in Wichita, KS, Portland, OR and Washington’s Puget Sound area, where the majority of IAM members are employed.

Click here for more information and updates on the closely watched negotiations between the IAM and Boeing.

IAM Launches Airline ‘Merger Watch’

Thanks to a year-long campaign by a handful of airline CEO’s, a series of massive and disruptive mergers are threatening to reshape the troubled industry, culminating in a monopoly-like atmosphere for the few carriers that remain.

In addition to the recently announced merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines, which would create the world’s largest airline, there is widespread speculation that United Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways and American Airlines may also be forced to consider mergers to remain competitive.

To keep IAM members advised of the developments in the this latest shakedown of airline passengers and employees, the IAM created ‘Merger Watch,’ a special web page at to provide news and information on the merger-related developments.

In addition to IAM updates, Merger Watch will provide links to news releases, testimony, videos and background information about proposed mergers and how they could affect IAM members, their families and their contracts.

Miami Members at AeroThrust Ratify New Contract

One hundred and fifty members of Local 1126 in Miami, FL, voted unanimously to ratify a new three-year bargaining agreement with AeroThrust, the largest independent provider of jet engine maintenance, repair and overhaul services in the United States. The new accord includes wage increases of 13.7 percent in addition to contract language that ensures seniority-based bidding rights and paid training for specialized job classifications.

“I congratulate the Shop Committee and District 166 Business Representative Robert Miller and Joe Kyle and our dedicated members for standing strong during these tough negotiations,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “We know the job is not complete until we secure the IAM National Pension Plan for these members.”

“This is a growing company and to retain these high-skilled aircraft engine builders they need to provide them a good pension plan,” said District 166 DBR Johnny Walker who credited the committee for a first rate effort on behalf of their fellow members.

IAM Trucker Honored for Gift of Life

Brooklyn, NY, Local 447 member Jerry Oberymeyer was recently honored for his quick thinking last February when fellow member Joe Alley collapsed nearby while they were both making deliveries for their employer, Pumpernickle Express.

Alley was unconscious by the time Oberymeyer reached him and he immediately began administering CPR and continued until an ambulance arrived on the scene. Medical officials credit Oberymeyer’s action withsaving Alley’s life.

“Jerry Oberymeyer’s decisive action and willingness to help saved a life,” said District 15 Area Director, Russ Gittlen. “Everyone involved, the IAM and Pumpernickel Express are grateful for Jerry’s action that day.”

Pumpernickel Express also presented Oberymeyer with a plaque thanking him on behalf of the company. “We have spoken to Joe’s family and they are grateful to Jerry for the action he took,” said a representative for Pumpernickel. “Joe is a great guy and speaking for all of us at Pumpernickel, we thank Jerry from the bottom of our hearts.”

Local 1930 Stewards Celebrated in Long Beach, CA

Stewards are often referred to as the backbone of the IAM, for the service they provide on a daily basis. IAM stewards in Long Beach, CA, who represent nearly 4,000 members of Local 1930, were recognized recently at a celebration in their honor.

Approximately 50 stewards and guests attended the “1st Annual Spring Union Steward Celebration,” where the front-line representatives were presented with specially designed shirts, badges and certificates for completing training provided by Western Territory Education Representative Marie Box.

“Stewards play a critical role in the IAM,” remarked Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson, who presented the certificates.  “It’s often a thankless job, and it’s exciting to see such a dynamic and ready group of members willing to step up and take on the challenge.”

Local 1930 represents Long Beach, CA, city workers in five distinct bargaining units: Skilled & General, Office & Technical, Professional, Refuse and Protection.

“Seeing such a large group of stewards here tonight is like a dream come true for me,” said District 947 Business Representative Gloria Carter, who has worked to develop a strong steward network within the local.

The highlight of the evening came with the proclamation presented by Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster officially declaring April 18 as “The City of Long Beach Stewards Appreciation Day.” 

GAO: Bush Violates Federal Law on SCHIP

By limiting individual states’ ability to provide health coverage to moderate-income children, the Bush administration is violating federal law, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week.
Despite many working families struggling with skyrocketing health care costs, President Bush twice last year vetoed legislation expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

As a result, many state officials have stepped up efforts to provide more children with health insurance. The Bush administration, however, went one step further and blocked states from using money for to cover children whose parents make above 250 percent of the poverty level, which is $44,000 for a family of three.

While the Bush administration will not be forced to rescind their directive, the decision provides much needed support to multiple states looking to expand health insurance to more children and reduces the chances the new policy can be put into effect before Bush leaves office.