iMail for Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April 28, a Day to Remember 

Machinists gathered this week for a solemn service to honor fellow members who perished on the job or from work-related conditions during the past year. The names of five IAM members were inscribed on bricks and set among 240 others at the IAM Workers’ Memorial on the grounds of the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Southern Maryland.

Added to the IAM memorial this year were: Eugene (Geno) Campagna, Local 1529; Thomas Cherry, Local 83; Danny Givens, District 75; Rick Smith, District 837 and Denise Wilson of Local 1833.

“We don’t forget our brothers and sisters,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, in an address to students and staff at the Winpisinger Center before the names of the fallen were read to the tolling of a bell. “We need to think about their lives and their sacrifice. They were loyal and true and they deserve to be remembered.”

This year’s service was the 20th annual observance of Workers’ Memorial Day, which began in Canada and is now observed in thousands of annual services around the world. More than 5,800 workers were killed in work-related accidents last year, with up to 60,000 perishing from work-related illnesses. Millions more are injured each year.

Among the students at the Winpisinger Center this week were IAM members taking part in the Spanish Leadership I course. Coincidently, the U.S. Department of Labor recently released their annual statistics showing the death and injury rate for Hispanic workers exceeding all other ethnic groups in the United States.

Clock Ticking on Tanker Decision

With less than two months remaining before the Government Accountability Office is set to rule on a formal objection filed by Boeing, opponents of the U.S. Air Force’s decision to award a $40 billion tanker contract to Airbus and Northrop Grumman are stepping up the pressure.
Boeing, which has been supplying tankers to the Air Force for nearly half a century, took out a full page ad in the Washington Post stressing the importance of experience and expertise in securing the tanker contract.

“Designing, building, certifying and delivering tanker aircraft and booms is a complex, high-risk process,” the ad states. “Boeing’s track record of superior management of complex military programs is unsurpassed.”

Union members, meanwhile, continue to flood lawmakers with petitions protesting the deal. You can send a message to Congress telling them “U.S. Forces Deserve U.S. Tankers” by clicking here.

Lawmakers also continue to remain active in their opposition. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with seven other Senators, recently sent a letter to President Bush questioning the decision.

Supreme Court Rules on Voter Photos

Taking sides in a dispute over a problem that many say does not exist, the U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled 6 to 3 that states may require voters to present photo identification to prevent fraud. The ruling threatens to disenfranchise millions of voters including the poor, elderly, disabled and urban dwellers who are least likely to have the appropriate photo ID.

The ruling follows an appeal of an Indiana law requiring voters to present specific government-issued identification, such as a drivers license or passport before voting. The Indiana law, considered to be the toughest in the nation, has been called a not-too-thinly veiled attempt to discourage voters who traditionally lean Democratic. The decision was widely hailed by GOP lawmakers who claimed it was needed to protect against voter fraud, despite the absence of evidence that voter fraud is a problem. Civil rights groups were quick to denounce the decision.

“This is a disgraceful decision by a court that has no credibility on election issues,” said Mary G. Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Gas Prices Ignite Nationwide Road Rage

Financially strapped working families are expressing outrage as gas prices continue their rapid ascent towards $4 a gallon. Gas prices are currently averaging $3.60 a gallon, up 66 cents from the same time last year and 49 cents from the beginning of the year.

Forty-four percent of Americans said paying for gas was a “serious problem,” according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, easily beating out jobs and health care as the top concern of those surveyed.
At $4.20 a gallon, the price for diesel fuel is also causing major economic hardships. A group of truck drivers rallied on Capitol Hill, calling on Congress to take action.

May 1 Deadline for Convention Commemorative Book

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 by email for additional information about options to design their own ad, or select from a template.

Arrogance Proves Costly for Air Canada

The continual disregard for sub-contracting provisions of the Air Canada TMOS Collective Agreement has finally caught up to Air Canada Technical Services (ACTS), right where it hurts – in the pocket book.

What originally began in 2007 as a series of no fewer than eight warnings from an arbitrator soon grew into a $1,000 fine against ACTS, followed by a second fine of $5,000, then a third fine at $25,000 and in early April 2008, a $100,000 fine.

The latest award stems from efforts by ACTS to contract out aircraft work because of insufficient manpower. The IAM claimed that there have been continuous manpower shortages since the 2007 layoffs of 867 TMOS members in Vancouver.

The combined awards of $125,000 ordered paid to the union in trust, will be used for fifty $2,500.00 scholarship awards for the children of TMOS members of District 140.

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