IAM members at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita and Salina, KS, will vote August 28 on a tentative agreement with significant improvements over the offer rejected by members more than three weeks ago. The new offer, which has the recommendation of the IAM Negotiating Committee, was reached after three days of hard bargaining, with key assistance from federal mediators.
Among the improved terms in the new contract offer are health care costs, which were preserved at current levels for the duration of the three-year accord, with no additional costs for employees. Health care costs were one reason for the first strike at Hawker Beechcraft since 1984. Other improvements include an increase to pension benefits and equitable treatment for new hires.
Full details of the accord will be provided to employees prior to ratification voting, tentatively scheduled 10 am to 2 pm in the Kansas Coliseum on Thursday, August 28. Ratification of the contract requires a simple majority of those members voting.
The IAM represents 4,700 hourly workers at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita and about 500 in Salina. The members of Local 733 and 2328 struck on Aug. 4, after 90 percent voted to reject Hawker Beechcraft’s initial three-year contract proposal. Eighty-nine percent voted to authorize the strike.
Several thousand IAM members and their families turned out on August 24 in SeaTac, WA, to send a strong message to the Boeing Company that “It’s Our Time, This Time,” as negotiations for a new agreement moved into the final stages.
The roar of more than 600 motorcycles ridden by members greeted the Main Table negotiators, Subcommittees, Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin; District 751 President Tom Wroblewski; District 70 President Steve Rooney and District 24 President Bob Petroff as they exited the hotel where the negotiations are taking place. The motorcade led the way for the traditional march to nearby Angle Lake for a rally and informational update. Chanting, fist-pumping, sign-waving union members filled the streets, stretching the entire length of the half-mile route.
“We’re miles apart on economics and pension,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin to the crowd gathered at the lake. “There are still three strike issues on the table – pension, retiree medical and job security. Until Boeing gets serious about these issues and negotiations, a strike is looming over this company.”
IAM members in the Puget Sound area, Portland, OR, Wichita, KS and Edwards Air Force Base, CA will vote Sept. 3 on the company’s so-called “last and best” offer.
Leaders of the IAM, serving as delegates and committee officials at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, will press for economic reforms that repair damage done by Republican policies over the past eight years.
Nearly 50 IAM members, from New York to California, are in Denver this week as delegates, super delegates and committee officials.
“The 2008 general election will be an intense, no holds barred fight,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, a member of the Platform Committee. “Democrats can – and should – fight to protect all Americans from the price gouging and rip offs perpetrated by Republicans during the past eight years.
“We have a duty to our members who saw their pensions stolen, their contracts shredded and their pockets picked by the most anti-union administration in U.S. history,” said Buffenbarger. “We plan to highlight the Republicans’ shameful record of hostility toward blue-collar union members.”
“The rise in fuel, utility and credit card rates during the past eight years is a wake-up call,” said Buffenbarger. “Electric utility rates for residential customers went from 8.58 cents in 2001 to 10.52 cents per kilowatt hour in 2008, an increase of 22 percent, a gut punch that hits hourly employees especially hard.”
In an editorial published this week in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, IAM Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski blasted the Pentagon for its latest effort to steer the multi-billion tanker refueling contract away from Boeing and to a foreign company with a more-expensive, yet inferior, product.
“If there was ever a scandalously bogus contract in the making, it’s the Pentagon’s latest bad-faith effort in the 2008 tanker scandal,” said Michalski, who also cited the employment impact of outsourcing a major defense contract worth as much as $100 billion.
“The Boeing mid-sized tanker would support tens of thousands more jobs than would the French contractors,” said Michalski. “The airframe of EADS’ KC-30, according to our own U.S. Trade Representative, is financed with billions in illegal European subsidies, which contribute to the loss of U.S. jobs.
“Not only will the troops lose, but taxpayers will be saddled with billions in extra charges, and tens of thousands of manufacturing workers will lose their jobs,” said Michalski. “With hundreds of billions of dollars in other pending contracts, Congress would be well advised to wake up, step in and avert another Katrina-like bureaucratic mess that could victimize our troops.”
Click here to read the full editorial.
The IAM Transportation Merger Team is urging members nationwide to get involved in the fight to block the proposed Delta-Northwest merger.
“It is extremely important that IAM members contact their elected representatives in their District offices during the Congressional recess,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Elected officials will be in their district offices from Labor Day weekend, through September 7th, providing excellent opportunity for IAM members to meet with their representatives. If you can’t make a personal visit, then we urge you to phone or email your representatives. We must keep pressure on Congress while they are in recess.”
Contact information for elected officials can be found on the IAM’s Merger Watch page at www.goiam.org/mergers. The site also provides a pre-written email that can be customized and sent to your representatives as well as talking points to help engage and educate your representatives on the issues important to workers.