iMail for Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kansas Machinists Strike Hawker Beechcraft 

IAM members at Hawker Beechcraft voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s offer and strike the Wichita, Kansas plane maker.

Picket lines went up at 12:01 am on August 4, 2008, at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita and Salina, KS, after thousands of IAM members cast ballots to reject the company’s offer and strike the profitable plane maker. Eighty-five percent of the total membership showed up to vote.

“This was a clear mandate from the membership to reject the offer.” said District 70 ADBR Rita Rogers. “This is an important vote that shows Hawker Beechcraft workers are tired of the years of mistreatment by this management team.”

The IAM also filed charges today with the National Labor Relations Board over threats made to probationary employees who honored legal picket lines and the company’s use of the IAM logo without permission.

“Hawker Beechcraft brought this strike on themselves,” declared International President Tom Buffenbarger. “They delivered a substandard contract offer in the midst of record profits, they threatened probationary employees and then they attempted to deceive workers by placing the IAM logo on the company’s offer.”

The use of the logo was an attempt to create the impression among employees that the union had endorsed the contract offer, when in fact the Negotiating Committee unanimously recommended rejection of the offer.

“Our members were not fooled and spoke with one voice,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “I visited the members at both locations recently, and I could tell they were determined to reverse the years of substandard contracts. They’ll have all the support the International and the Southern Territory office can give them to have a successful strike.”

For more information on the strike, go to

Survey Seeks Flight Attendant Feedback

The IAM Transportation Department has launched an online survey to give its Flight Attendant membership an opportunity to provide honest and anonymous feedback and suggestions to their union.  

Computers for taking the survey are available in the Continental and ExpressJet crew rooms in Newark, Houston, and Cleveland until August 17, 2008. Continental Micronesia Flight Attendants and any Flight Attendant who doesn’t take the survey in a crew room will have access to it online from the District 142 website,, through August 31, 2008.

“IAM Flight Attendants have the best contracts in the industry and this survey is just one step in our efforts to demonstrate the IAM’s continued commitment to the Flight Attendants,” said General Vice President Robert Roach, Jr. “Flight Attendant participation in this survey will help us to better serve our members.”

Nettie Hall is IAM Sister of the Month

The IAM’s August 2008 Sister of the Month, Nettie Hall, is a 30-year veteran with the IAM. Twenty of those years have been dedicated to serving the on the executive board for Local 1165 in Lincoln, IL.  Currently, she is serving as the Recording Secretary, but she has also served as Trustee.

Employed as an Assembler at Eaton Electric, Hall first became involved in the IAM because she wanted to know more about the union that represented her. Asking questions led to becoming involved and more questions led to more involvement. “I wanted to learn so much,” said Hall. “Thirty years ago I asked so many questions and grew into a devoted trade unionist… I love it!”

For other sisters looking for a direction and a way to become more involved, Hall suggests getting started by becoming a steward.  “Get training, ask questions, work your way up,” advises Hall.  It’s a choice she made 30 years ago and hasn’t regretted.

Iowa Local Ratifies New Deal with Adams Co.

The 60 IAM members employed as machinists and maintenance workers at Adams Company in Dubuque, IA, have ratified a new three-year agreement with annual wage increases of six percent, 4.75 percent and 3.75 percent.

“This is the best agreement we’ve ever reached at Adams,” said District 6 Business Representative Wayne Laufenberg. “We have three new members on the shop committee and I’m very proud of the entire shop committee. It was their hard work and dedication that allowed us to bring back a contract worthy of ratification.”

In addition to increased wages, shift differentials and progression raises, the IAM Pension Plan rate was boosted from $1.40 per hour to $1.65 over three years. Vacation language was also improved. Each member will also receive a $1,000 signing bonus.

“The Company knows they have a very talented workforce and came through with a final offer that reflects the value they place on their employees,” said Laufenberg.

“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of District 6 DBR Bob Connett, BR Wayne Laufenberg and the Local 1238 shop committee,” said Midwest Territory GVP Philip J. Gruber. “And we congratulate our members at Adams Company on their new collective bargaining agreement.” 

Trade Deficit with China Cost 2.3 Million U.S. Jobs

The U.S.’s massive trade deficit with China resulted in the loss of 2.3 million U.S. jobs from 2001-2007, according to a report released yesterday by the Economic Policy Institute. “The China Trade Toll” shows the U.S. trade deficit with China, which increased from $84 billion in 2001 to $262 billion in 2007, cost the U.S. 366,000 jobs last year alone.

A wide range of both high and low-skill jobs, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, were lost due to the skyrocketing trade deficit with China. More than half of the displaced jobs were in the top half of American wage earners and nearly a third of jobs lost were among workers with a college degree. Displaced workers lost an average of $8,146 each in wages as they migrated to lower-paying jobs.
“This new data is a wake-up call about the devastating effect of our unbalanced China trade on American jobs, wages and our economy,” said the report’s author, EPI senior economist Robert Scott. “The damage is being felt in every state. And as the trade deficit continues to grow and China moves into higher-wage sectors, the trend lines on the future loss of jobs and depression of incomes are especially alarming.”

Unemployment Rate Hits Four Year High

The U.S. lost another 51,000 jobs last month, marking the seventh straight month of job loss and pushing the number of jobs lost this year to 463,000. The unemployment rate jumped from 5.5 to 5.7 percent, its highest level in four years, according to the Labor Department’s employment report.

The manufacturing and construction sectors continue to be hit hardest by the economic downturn, losing 35,000 and 22,000 jobs respectively.

The continued job loss comes as working families struggle with a mortgage crisis as well as soaring gas and food prices and further reinforces the need for a second economic stimulus package.

If working families cannot find the jobs and hours they need, incomes are likely to fall, driving consumption—70 percent of the economy—down as well, states the Economic Policy Institute’s Jobs Report. “In this regard, policy makers need to actively plan for a second stimulus package to help strapped families and offset the headwinds holding the economy, and particularly the job market, back.”

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