iMail for Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Candidates Confirm for National Staff Conference

Five presidential candidates have confirmed they will take part in discussions of key domestic issues before more than 600 IAM representatives on August 27-28 at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club in Orlando, FL. New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton, California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee will speak on August 27. Former North Carolina Democratic Sen. John Edwards and Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich will take part on August 28.

“The IAM’s Conversation with the Candidates will be an excellent opportunity for union representatives to hear directly from presidential candidates of both parties on the issues that directly impact IAM members and their families,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “This will not be a political rally but a serious discussion of non-partisan issues and we are very gratified these candidates have agreed to take part.”

The conversations will be moderated by CBS correspondent Erin Moriarty and will focus on six issues: jobs, trade, health care, schools, manufacturing and energy. IAM members are urged to suggest questions for individual candidates by submitting their questions on an online form at:

In addition to traditional media coverage, the IAM Conversation with the Candidates will be streamed live on and may be made available to CBS radio stations nationwide.


Conference Delegates to Join Space Center Picket Line

Hundreds of IAM representatives attending the 2007 National Staff Conference in Orlando, FL, are planning to travel to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, on August 30 to support more than 500 members of Local 2061, who have been on strike since June 14 against United Space Alliance (USA).

The members of Local 2061, who operate the massive cranes and crawlers that prep and transport space shuttle vehicles to the launch pad, rejected an offer from the space alliance after NASA attempted to dictate the terms of the contract between USA and the members of Local 2061.

The IAM filed a lawsuit charging NASA with violating its duty under the Service Contract Act, which requires federal agencies to remain neutral in the collective bargaining process between federal contractors and the unions representing their employees. The suit alleges that NASA violated 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.


Connecticut Machinists Reject Pratt & Whitney Offer

District 26 members from three IAM Locals in Middletown, East Hartford and Cheshire, CT, overwhelmingly rejected a so-called “last, best and final” offer from Pratt and Whitney (P&W), the Hartford-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC). The vote came after P&W requested the IAM open talks nearly two months earlier than scheduled.

“The members sent a clear message with their votes that the company failed in these negotiations to address the issues most important to the membership,” said District 26 Assistant DBR and Chief Negotiator James Parent. “The Union made it clear to the company from the start what the membership’s demands were.”

Health care costs, job security and subcontracting are a key concern for members at P&W. The company’s proposal would have eliminated nearly 300 jobs through retirement buyouts while replacing only 100 of those positions. The offer also proposed 60 percent increase in health insurance premiums for workers.

“We put Pratt & Whitney on notice when these talks opened,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “Our members were and are ready to partner in a universal health care solution and take this ugly issue off the bargaining table for good. Apparently, they weren’t listening.”  No new negotiations are scheduled. The current agreement is set to expire December 2, 2007.


Unions at Amtrak Slam ‘Extraordinary Delay’

After the first mediated negotiations in nearly a year, four Amtrak unions, the IAM, TCU-IAM, IBEW and TWU renewed  their request(  to the National Mediation Board for a release from further mediation.

“Amtrak workers’ last general wage increase was when Bill Clinton was in the White House,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “There has been no progress made toward an agreement in more than seven years and there won’t be any movement until Amtrak withdraws its concessionary demands or we are free to strike the carrier.”

The July 30, 2007 bargaining session differed from others only because Amtrak insisted on more concessions than in previous bargaining. The nation’s passenger rail carrier has not moved off a single concessionary demand since bargaining began in December 1999.

IAM members can help get the process rolling by visiting the IAM website and urging Congress to force the NMB to acknowledge negotiations are at an obvious impasse. When the NMB declares an impasse, mediated negotiations would end and the negotiations process under the Railway Labor Act would move forward.  


Arkansas Local 463 Members Ratify Lockheed Contract

Members of District Lodge 156 and Local Lodge 463 voted overwhelmingly last week to ratify a new three-year agreement with Lockheed Martin Training Solutions, Inc. at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.

The bargaining unit, which includes Simulator Instructor Pilots, Flight Engineers, Navigators, Load Masters and Support personnel in the Air Force C-130 program, approved the contract by a vote of 98 to 10. The contract provides annual general wage increases of four percent, 3.5 percent and three percent throughout the life of the contract. The contract also provides lead pay of $3.20 an hour and a one-time ratification bonus of $1,300, in addition to providing an alternate work-week rate of $.75 per hour.

“Through coordination and continued assistance from all involved, these negotiations were highly successful for our members working under this collective bargaining agreement and set a high standard to be matched in other area contracts,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ray Moffatt.


Wal-Mart Pays $4 Million to California Workers

Corporate behemoth Wal-Mart agreed last week to pay nearly $4 million in back pay to roughly 50,000 current and former California employees who were denied proper overtime and other wages. Wal-Mart also agreed to pay nearly $200,000 in civil penalties to the state.

The announcement is the latest example of Wal-Mart’s questionable employment practices, which has included union-busting, sexual discrimination, low wages and more.

The payments affect all California workers who were employed by the retail giant from Feb. 1, 2002, through Jan. 19, 2007.