IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger cited the recently released unemployment numbers for the month of July as hard evidence that an additional job stimulus program is needed.
On August 7, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate in July decreased a tenth of a percent from 9.5 percent in June to 9.4 percent. But the same report showed that 247,000 more jobs were lost in July, including 76,000 jobs in construction and 52,000 jobs in manufacturing.
“The high-fives are premature,” said Buffenbarger. “Fifteen million jobless Americans cannot cheer these numbers. They are losing everything — their health care, their homes and their hope. They need jobs now, not two or three years from now.”
Buffenbarger has repeatedly called for an updated version of programs employed by Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression, including funding for job creation programs such as the Works Progress Administration. In a three-page letter to President Obama, Buffenbarger also urged tax credits for businesses and additional funding for skills training.
“Economists may tout today’s unemployment numbers,” said Buffenbarger. “But to me, they send a cold chill down my spine. For America’s jobless, I fear the worst is yet to come.”
A full court press is underway by a growing coalition of IAM leaders, state and local representatives to convince G.E. Aviation to abandon its planned closure of an Albuquerque, NM, jet engine facility that has been an economic driver in the area for nearly four decades.
Earlier this month, G.E. announced it would close the facility in the fall of 2010, a move that would put more than 400 members of Local 794 out of work and drain the local economy of an additional 1,000 jobs and more than $30 million in annual economic activity.
Since the announcement, IAM representatives have petitioned local, state and national lawmakers to join the effort to keep the profitable facility in Albuquerque, rather than shift the work to locations in other states.
“The IAM and G.E. are engaged in ‘Decision Bargaining’ over this issue, which will last for 60 days before G.E. can make a final determination to close the site or not,” said Local 794 President Ernest “Red” Dow. “Unless the parties mutually agree to extend the date, we have until September 25, 2009, to come up with ideas.”
An example of the effort to keep the facility in Albuquerque can be seen in the recent television interview with Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz, who supports keeping the plant and the jobs right where they are.
Minnesota Local 1833 member Victoria Cheek is among 12 winners of the 2009Union Plus Union Leaders of the Future Scholarship program who will receive one-time cash awards to help with the cost of continuing their education.
The Union Plus winners were chosen on the basis of their leadership potential, career goals, social awareness and financial need.
The judges noted that “Victoria is a past Future Leaders Scholarship winner (2008) who also participated in the mentoring program. She is one of the first female activists for her local and has held many union positions, including shop steward, communicator, educator, newsletter editor and trustee.”
For more information about benefits available from Union Plus, visit http://www.unionplus.org.
An estimated 540,000 Americans will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits by the end of September – a number that will grow to 1.5 million by the end of the year, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
The organization says the first stimulus package was a huge help at abating the number of Americans that were set to lose the much-needed assistance earlier this year, but now more help is needed – and soon.
“In just the past five months since the recovery bill passed, the economy has hemorrhaged 2.7 million more jobs,” says NELP. “There are now an all-time high of 4.4 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months, up dramatically from 2.6 million in February. That translates into 29 percent of jobless workers who have been out of work for six months, a record since data were first reported in 1948.”
“Never in the history of the unemployment insurance program have more workers been unemployed for such prolonged periods of time,” says NELP Deputy Director Andrew Stettner. “With an onslaught of exhaustions just around the corner, Americans still need robust benefits to keep their families and communities above water.”
Click here for a state-by-state breakdown of how many unemployed workers will be without a check by the end of September and 2009.
When it comes to supporting the community and union members in trouble, the IAM is always there. Following a devastating fire at the Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant in Milwaukee, WI, Local 66 helped in opening an emergency food pantry for workers and displaced residents.
Authorities say someone shot a military-style flare onto the roof of the plant July 5. The fire burned for more than two days and put some 1,800 employees temporarily out of work while forcing residents within a one-mile radius of the plant to evacuate. Nearly 700 workers have since returned to work. Another 1,100 workers are still out.
The food pantry was organized by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1473 with support from IAM members, the Milwaukee County Labor Council, United Way, and two local nonprofits, Hunger Task and Voces de la Frontera.
The registration deadline for the second of two IAM Basic Web Development classes for 2009 has been extended to August 17, 2009. The class is offered by the IAM Communications Department and will be held from October 25-30, 2009 at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Placid Harbor, MD. The Basic Web Development course is designed to teach participants the basics of building a union website. Participants create, refine and publish a complete website using “hands-on” instruction techniques. The course will use Microsoft Expression Web software to create lodge websites. Lodges that are currently using Microsoft Front Page and wish to recreate their site using the new Expression Web software are eligible to attend.
Click here for registration information or call the IAM Communications Department at 301-967-4520.