iMail for Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Negotiations Commence at Cessna Aircraft

Local 774 in Wichita, KS opened contract negotiations this week with Cessna Aircraft for 5,400 workers at the manufacturer’s Wichita facilities. International President Tom Buffenbarger, Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski and Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez helped open the negotiations.

The IAM leadership and negotiating committee sported buttons that said “Squawk-free contract” and “Definity means Strike.” Definity is the unpopular, high-deductible health care plan that is one of the three options for employees.

“We’re looking forward to sitting down with the company and we believe we’ll come up with a pace-setting contract for the aviation industry,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge.

“We are beginning these talks in positive times,” said IP Buffenbarger. “There’s strong demand for our product; we have backlogs of orders. But we want to make sure that we don’t become complacent, thinking this will last forever. We need to build a good contract for our members to keep going now and to preserve good jobs and good benefits when times lean out.”

“The membership wants a stronger pension plan. It’s time to bring the IAM Pension Plan to Cessna Aircraft,” said GVP Martinez.

The current contract expires Sept. 16.

IAM Sues NASA Over Space Center Negotiations

The IAM filed suit this week in the United States District Court in the District of Columbia against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for interfering in the negotiations for a new contract for almost 500 members of Lodge 2061 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The employees provide launch services to NASA through the United Space Alliance (USA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co.

“NASA management is violating the law by attempting to dictate the terms of the economic package between the United Space Alliance and the IAM,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “That interference is a violation of the Service Contract Act and it has harmed the dedicated IAM workers who are a key part of America’s space program.”

The suit alleges that NASA violated its duty under the Service Contract Act by telling the United Space Alliance that it would not reimburse USA for any increased labor costs in a new agreement with the IAM. Federal law requires NASA and other federal agencies to remain neutral in the collective bargaining process between federal contractors and the unions representing their employees.

“The IAM’s proposals have been reasonable and in line with other related contracts at NASA,” said IAM Southern Territory GVP Robert Martinez, Jr. “NASA intentionally undermined the negotiations process between United Space Alliance and the IAM by injecting itself into the negotiating process that should be solely between the IAM and the contractor.”

Negotiations between the IAM and USA began in mid-2007. The parties were unable to reach an agreement because of NASA’s interference and IAM-represented employees were forced on strike on June 14, 2007.

Pennsylvania IAM Members Honored for Fire Rescue

Gene Reed and Kim Kandel of Local 2462 in Scranton, PA, were honored recently by the City of Scranton for their “unselfish act of courage” when their quick thinking saved a woman and her son from their burning home.

Early on the morning of July 16, Reed and Kandel were driving a city lift truck when they noticed flames and smoke billowing from a house in Scranton. On the roof they spotted a woman who had climbed out to escape the flames. Reed instantly drove the truck onto the front yard and hopped into the bucket. Kandel took over the controls and lifted Reed to the second-floor roof where he pulled Kathleen Farley to safety.

Still trapped inside, however, was Farley’s 11-year old son, David Bradshaw. Within seconds, firefighters Paul Schirra and Dan Hanley arrived and rushed David out of the burning house.

Reed and Kandel received a prolonged ovation at the special ceremony honoring them and the firefighters. While appreciative of the recognition, both were still concerned for young David, who suffered second and third degree burns. “It’d be even better if the child turns out alright,” said Reed. “I feel the same way,” added Kandel. “It’s wonderful that we saved [Ms. Farley], but we hope the little boy pulls through.”

“The courageous, quick-thinking of Brother Reed and Sister Kandel is so impressive. They did what we all hope we would do in that type of situation,” said District 1 DBR Danny Chmelko. “Gene and Kim didn’t hesitate for a moment to do what had to be done, regardless of possible personal harm,” added Local 2462 President Nancy Krake.

Tentative Agreement Reached for 7,700 at US Airways

IAM District 141 announced a tentative agreement with US Airways covering the carrier’s 7,700 Fleet Service workers that will provide a single contract and uniform terms for all Fleet Service employees for the first time.

The tentative pact includes substantial wage increases and calls for a single pay scale for all Fleet Service employees. The accord also improves the scope of work performed by IAM members and provides increased contributions to the IAM National Pension Plan, the only defined benefit pension plan remaining at US Airways. The negotiations were prompted by last year’s merger between US Airways and America West Airlines.

“US Airways’ bankruptcies wreaked havoc on employees,” said IAM Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “The negotiating committee has given the members the opportunity to vote on a contract with immediate improvements in wages, job security and pension benefits.”

The IAM negotiating committee unanimously recommended membership ratification of the agreement. Results are expected to be announced on September 5, 2007. If ratified, the agreement will become amendable on December 31, 2011.

“We were able to do more than just combine the two airlines’ contracts,” said District 141 President Randy Canale. “This tentative agreement ensures our members benefit as US Airways charts its course for the future.”

Negotiations for 2,900 Mechanic & Related employees represented by IAM District 142 are continuing with the assistance of a facilitator from the National Mediation Board.

Early Negotiations Open at Pratt and Whitney

The IAM and Pratt & Whitney, the Hartford-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC), opened negotiations in Connecticut, two months ahead of schedule. The talks cover more than 4,100 IAM members at the company.

“A one-way relationship is no longer acceptable to the IAM and its members,” Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. told Pratt & Whitney negotiators at the opening session last Tuesday. “The street goes both ways because at the end of the day, like it or not, we need each other. Otherwise we would not be sitting together in these early negotiations.”

Top issues for IAM members at Pratt are healthcare and jobs. “We’re here to address the issues of concern to our membership,” said IAM Chief Negotiator and District 26 ADBR James Parent. “Jobs will be an issue in these negotiations. The company has a need for new workers. It’s not just about maintaining current jobs, it’s about growth, it’s about jobs of the future, good jobs, right here in Connecticut.”

A vote on a final contract proposal is expected August 19th. For the latest updates on negotiations, go to http://www.iamdistrict26.org/p&w_contract_2007.htm

EAP Coordinators: Saving Lives and Careers

Having a trained Employee Assistance Program (EAP) coordinator at your worksite can make a life or death difference for an employee facing drug, alcohol or mental health issues at home or on the job.

While EAP coordinators throughout the labor movement traditionally perform their work with the greatest confidentiality, more than 400 gathered recently for a week-long conference in Las Vegas, NV, to discuss issues ranging from domestic violence and adolescent addictions to compulsive behaviors. Over three dozen IAM representatives took part in the Fourteenth Annual Labor Assistance Professionals (LAP) Conference.

“Employee Assistance Programs are one of the best services we can provide for our fellow union members,” said IAM Community Services and Retirees Director Maria Cordone, who attended the conference and promotes EAP programs at every opportunity. “The program does much more than just help people in trouble, it helps co-workers, family members and loved ones who frequently bear the burden no less than the employee in trouble.”