iMail for Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2009 Transportation Conference Underway In New York

More than 400 delegates and guests are in New York City this week for the 2009 IAM Transportation Conference, where a distinguished line-up of speakers declared their support and solidarity with North America’s air and rail workers. Click here to view photos from the Conference.

High on the list of critical issues facing airline workers this year is the battle for a fair election at Delta Air Lines, where workers at the newly-merged carrier will soon have an opportunity to cast ballots for IAM representation.

“We are confronted with a fight where 12,500 people stand to lose union representation at the hands of anti-union carrier Delta Air Lines,” declared Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “They (Delta) may have drawn the line in the sand, but we’re coming across that line. We’re going to win that representation election.”

On August 13, the IAM took the necessary steps to resolve representational issues for 12,700 fleet service, flight simulator technician and plant protection employees at the combined Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines. Similar filings will be made for passenger service, stock clerks and office & clerical employees. The elections, which will be conducted by the National Mediation Board (NMB), have the potential to be the largest organizing victory in more than a decade.

In addition to updates on the beleaguered airline industry, delegates heard from high-ranking state and federal officials including California Democratic Representative Laura Richardson, who urged delegates to fight back against efforts to weaken key legislation, including health care and the Employee Free Choice Act. Rep. Richardson, an IAM member and a co-sponsor of the original Employee Free Choice Act, warned that the legislation was under a sustained assault. “Shame on us if we let the cable channels and conservative talk-show hosts direct national policy,” said Richardson. “We simply cannot allow others to drive this issue.”

Delegates also heard from AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker and Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend. Former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta recounted his day in office on September 11, 2001 and Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, pledged his continued support of the FAA Reauthorization Bill, legislation containing many of the major provisions the Machinists union has spearheaded in recent years. And, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood both issued statements of support via video.

In a keynote address that linked the transportation industry to aerospace and general manufacturing, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger called for a second economic stimulus program that invests in skills training and programs in manufacturing and transportation that directly benefit workers and their families.

“On July 1, we called for a second stimulus, not for the finance companies and banks that locked it away, but for the people in this room,” said Buffenbarger. “It’s high time this government invested in you.”

Connecticut Joins Forces to Save Pratt Jobs

A statewide effort to keep Pratt & Whitney from closing facilities in Cheshire and East Hartford, CT remained high gear this week when more than 40 representatives from the IAM, area unions and officials from government, including the Governor’s office, the state legislature and the U.S. Congress met to formulate plans to keep Pratt jobs in Connecticut.

The IAM has been leading a statewide effort to protect Pratt jobs that included an appearance last week before the state Commerce Committee, chaired by State Senator Gary LeBeau. The Committee held a special hearing on Pratt’s shocking proposal to close their Cheshire engine overhaul and repair facility, as well as their Connecticut Airfoil Repair Operation (CARO) in East Hartford, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk, and an estimated 3,000 other jobs that could be lost in the ripple effect of the plant closures. Under Pratt & Whitney’s plan, most of this work would go to Singapore, Japan and a non-union plant in Columbus, Georgia.

IAM members crammed the hearing room and heard District 26 Assistant Directing Business Representative Jim Parent testify before the Committee. Pratt officials declined to attend the hearing, calling it “premature.”

“As far as I am concerned,” Parent told Committee members regarding Pratt & Whitney’s proposed plant closings, “this has been a terrible betrayal of workers who made this company the success it is today, and the communities that have nurtured and sustained this corporation for decades.”

Click here to read Parent’s full testimony.

Ontario Patient Transfer Members Win First Contract

Members of IAM Local Lodge 1295 employed with Ontario Patient Transfer have ratified their first collective agreement. The one hundred members provide non-emergency ambulatory patient transfers from Hamilton to Toronto in the east and as far west as Niagara Falls. The IAM also represents patient transfer workers at Medi-Van in Winnipeg, Ambutrans in Toronto and Voyageur Patient Transfer Service in Sarnia.

“The majority of our membership is under the age of 30 and their biggest issue was a paid lunch,” explained Chief Steward and bargaining committee member Rob North. “It works out to just over a dollar per hour in pay and thanks to the Machinists, it’s no longer a problem.”

The paid lunch break amounts to a wage increase of eight percent in the first year of a three-year agreement. The agreement also provides wage increases of two percent in the second and third year respectively. Other agreement highlights include established scheduling language, increased call-in pay and established contract language.

“This is a good first agreement and it goes a long way to improving employee relations,” said IAM Grand Lodge Representative Colin Cherry.

Registration Reminder for Basic Web Development Course

There is still time to register for the second of two IAM Basic Web Development classes for 2009. Registrations will be accepted until August 24, 2009. The class is offered by the IAM Communications Department and will be held from October 25-30 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 lodge 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 who have had participants attend previous Basic Web classes and currently using Microsoft Front Page are eligible to attend this Basic Web class to rebuild their site using the new Expression Web software.

Click here for registration information or call the IAM Communications Department at 301-967-4520.