iMail for Tuesday, April 28 2009

Lockheed Flight Specialists Vote for IAM Representation

More than 800 Automated Flight Service Specialists (AFSS) at Lockheed Martin are now represented by the Machinists union after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) certified the results of their vote for the IAM.

The Flight Service Specialists work at twelve sites and three hub facilities across the continental United States and Hawaii. The work was formerly performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and was contracted to Lockheed Martin in 2006.

The current vote comes a little over one year after a previous attempt to win IAM representation that ended in a one-vote loss.

“The Flight Service Specialists at Lockheed did not give up and stuck together,” said Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski. “This is a great victory for them and a strong signal that in these tough economic times, workers want the benefits of union representation – job security, a secure retirement and the pay and benefits that support a healthy middle class.

The IAM currently represents more than 15,000 Lockheed Martin employees under thirty-five contracts at forty-six sites nationwide. More than half of these contracts are negotiated under the unique guidelines of the Service Contract Act. The IAM is the preeminent union in North America for service contract workers with more members in this specialized sector than any other organization.

Workers Memorial Ceremony Honors Fallen Members

Families, friends and fellow IAM members gathered at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center as part of a national observance of Worker’s Memorial Day to honor the memory of those who perished on the job or from work-related diseases.

Each year the IAM honors its fallen brothers and sisters by inscribing their names on bricks that are placed at the Workers’ Memorial at the Winpisinger Center. Family members and co-workers honored the memories of twenty-one IAM and Transportation Communications Union (TCU) members.

“The IAM cares very deeply about its members, their families and the work our members do. We struggle and fight hard every day to assure that when one leaves for their job, that they return home safe and sound,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “We don’t always win that fight, but it inspires us to work ever harder so that others don’t have to endure the pain and grief of losing a loved one. Only when we all make safety and respect for workers paramount will we cease to have a ceremony like today.”

Inscribed bricks were placed for the following members: Kathryn E. Fowee, Local 162; George N. Lincoln, Sr., Local 700; Walter Bailey, Local 1776; Robert D. Faulkner, Local 1969; Bill J. Zupcic, Local 1347; Barry A. Withrow, Local 656; J. Bill Oxley, Local 656; Jeff Hart, Local 733; Randy J. Hoegger, Local 1713; Steve C. Voermans, Local 1713; Michael Hatton, Local 83; Carlos Trevino, Local 83; Alice Roth, IAM/TCU Local 1908; Roger Desrochers, Local 922; Terry Kitchens, Local W484; Don Zrust, Local 1037; Donna Lynn Remata, IAM/TCU Local 1315; David Pierce, Jr., IAM/TCU Local 6091, Wilfred Negron, Sr., Local 1776 and Al Scarcelli, Local 1005. Also honored was former IAM Communications Director Robert Kalaski who passed away in 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer.

This year’s service was the 20th annual observance of Workers’ Memorial Day, which began in Canada and is now observed every April 28th in thousands of services around the world. In the United States, this year marks the 39th anniversary of passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act which created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set and enforce workplace safety standards.

Pennsylvania Senator to Bolt GOP

Five-term Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter announced this week that he intends to switch from the Republican party to the Democratic party, a dramatic move that will push Democrats closer to a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

“I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” said the moderate Specter, who has been frequently at odds with the increasingly conservative core of his party.  A formal announcement of the switch is expected within several days.

The move by Specter would give Democrats 59 Senate seats. If Al Franken wins his race against Republican Norm Coleman for the Senate seat in Minnesota, the Democrats would increase their number in the Senate to 60, the number needed to overcome a filibuster.

No Relief in Sight for U.S. Unemployment Pandemic

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows job losses continue to climb.

The number of Americans filing first-time applications for unemployment insurance rose last week from 613,000 to 640,000, while the number of workers continuing to file claims for unemployment benefits topped a record 6.1 million.

In comparison, new jobless claims stood at 353,000 during the same time last year, while continuing claims were at 2.93 million.

“This report indicates the economy won’t be letting up anytime soon,” says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “And with more and more companies announcing layoffs by the minute, it’s clear the situation will only continue to get worse.

“What America needs is a comprehensive investment in jobs that will guarantee real and continued economic growth. What America needs is a revitalization of our manufacturing and transportation industries. An economic stimulus package targeting our nation’s plants and the businesses that create and transport U.S. goods is necessary to jumpstart this economy,” said Buffenbarger.

Improved Contract Ends Ohio Tool Maker Strike

IAM members of Local 1356 employed at SK Hand Tool Corp. in Defiance, OH, voted to accept a 3-year agreement last week after unanimously rejecting a series of sub-standard contract offers from the company.

The company initially proposed a contract that would have eviscerated the collective bargaining agreement, gutting seniority rights; reducing vacation and holidays while eliminating dental, life, and disability insurance. The company’s offers also included extreme increases in health care premiums.

After a lengthy negotiating process that included rejection by members of similar offers from the company, the negotiating committee reached an agreement that was ratified by the membership. “Through the solidarity of the members we were able to reach a fair agreement,” said District 34 BR Joseph Chaszar. “With the support of the community and other unions in the area, the members were able to prevail. Our members can now return to what they do best – producing some of the finest hand tools in the world.”

Treasury Flip Flops on China Currency Manipulation

The Treasury Department recently issued a formal report that concluded China is not manipulating its currency to gain a trade advantage. The report marks a stunning about face from testimony by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last January, according to a report in The Hill. At his confirmation hearing in January, Geithner testified that China is manipulating its currency, a practice that puts U.S. manufacturers at a big disadvantage. Geithner pledged at that time that the U.S. would act aggressively to change China’s policies.

Now, the Treasury Department is claiming that China isn’t manipulating its currency, citing a 16.6 percent appreciation in value and a decrease in China’s holdings of foreign reserves. Geithner’s new report did say the Chinese currency is still undervalued.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) disagreed with the Treasury’s finding, claiming that China continues to manipulate its currency and the Alliance for American Manufacturing called the administration’s change of heart a “missed opportunity.”

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