2008 Presidential hopefuls Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee joined nearly 700 IAM delegates yesterday for the opening day of the 2007 IAM National Staff Conference in Orlando, FL.
During the “Conversation with the Candidates,” which were moderated by CBS News Correspondent Erin Moriarty, both presidential hopefuls were allotted 45 minutes to discuss six key domestic issues impacting IAM members: Jobs, trade, schools, health care, manufacturing and energy.
“I was at your Day of Action and there’s no better slogan right now – ‘Enough is Enough’,” said Clinton. “We need to make a change now so we can ensure every single American has a good job, quality health care, pension security and we need to get back to the point where workers can freely form a union.”
The one-on-one format allowed the candidates the opportunity to delve deeper into tough issues. Huckabee surprised many of the attendees with his stance on trade and manufacturing.
“In order for this country to be free there are three things we must do: feed ourselves, fuel ourselves and fight for ourselves,” said Huckabee. “That means we need to be manufacturing our own means of defense and making it a national security issue.”
When asked about immediate changes she would make when elected, Clinton spoke at length about the nation’s broken health care system. “I have scars to show from my efforts in 1993 to get universal health care. It’s going to be hard because there’s so much money on the other side, but I hope to sign in my first year a bill giving all Americans quality, affordable health care,” she said.
The opening day of the 2007 staff conference also saw fiery speeches from International President Tom Buffenbarger and General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart, both of whom called on the attendees to take part in the changes that will help the IAM grow and move forward.
“The war against labor is not over,” said Buffenbarger. “This is not the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning and we must fight like hell all the way through to November 2008 and beyond for our survival.”
“We must forge new paths of change,” said Mart. “The path may be bumpy at times, but at the end of the day we will preserve the strength of the union.”
Democratic Presidential hopefuls former Sen. John Edwards (NC) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) are set to speak with attendees Tuesday evening. The 2007 IAM Staff Conference runs through Thursday.
Organizing efforts took center stage at the IAM National Staff Conference in Orlando, FL this week. IAM President Tom Buffenbarger recognized organizing successes by each Territory and Canada, including a special presentation for District 947, District 190, District 725 members and Western Territory staff for their outstanding efforts with the City of Long Beach workers that bought in 1,800 IAM members.
Also honored were IAM District and unaffiliated Local Lodges who organized at least 250 new members this past year. International President Tom Buffenbarger reminded the nearly 700 delegates gathered that it was at the 2003 Staff Conference in Cincinnati when the Executive Council first made the challenge to organize at least 250 new members each year. “We’d like to honor those who took the challenge, met it, and then surpassed it,” said IP Buffenbarger. “Each of these lodges made a commitment, worked hard and worked together. And the result was that each of them organized 250 or more members from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007.”
Receiving special honors were: Local 1943, Middletown, OH; District 1, Philadelphia, PA; Federal District 1, Washington, DC; District 4, Brunswick, ME; District 96, Savannah, GA; District 140, Richmond, BC; and District 947, Long Beach, CA.
The members of newly-chartered Local 4 in Lexington Park, MD, overwhelmingly ratified a new contract this week that clearly demonstrated the benefits of collective bargaining as well as the Machinists’ prowess in negotiating under Service Contract Act (SCA) guidelines.
Nearly 850 aircraft mechanics, inspectors, electricians, painters and support workers employed by DynCorp at Patuxent River Naval Base will receive a whopping first-year pay boost of 19.2 percent, followed by raises of three percent and three percent in subsequent years of the accord. The first contract for the group also includes major improvements to workers’ benefits including vacation pay, sick leave and due process rights.
“With the support of a sophisticated negotiating committee and the experience of numerous SCA negotiations under their belts, District 4 DBR Tony Provost and BR Rick Compher did an outstanding job of bringing this contract back for ratification,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “In addition to the immediate benefits in the contract, the members of Local 4 at Pax River also gained the long-term benefits of the IAM National Pension Plan. This agreement is proof positive of what IAM representation can bring members working for contractors covered by the Service Contract Act.”
In an editorial published August 27 in the St. Louis Post Gazette, GVP Rich Michalski questions the fairness of awarding a $40 billion contract to build aerial refueling tankers to a French-based company that receives more than $100 million in government subsidies and boasts they mean to win the contract “by any means necessary.”
“Europeans, particularly the French, have been engaged in what is widely regarded in the U.S. as an illegal and systematic effort to steal jobs and market share from American aerospace workers,” said Michalski. “And they’ve been effective with this gambit, gaining nearly 50 percent of the market while the American-based manufacturer Boeing Co. was forced to shed 65,000 U.S. jobs.”
While the Bush administration responded by filing the largest lawsuit in the history of the World Trade Organization against the European Union, U.S. workers have been largely abandoned by a government that believes wholeheartedly in letting the global market cherry pick the U.S. aerospace industry of its best jobs, technology and future prospects.
“The Boeing tanker is American made, and would never be held up or left unsupported by a country whose government suddenly went from ally to enemy,” warned Michalski. “An award to the American manufacturer could support some 44,000 jobs and hundreds of communities here at home.”
If Airbus wins the contract, the Defense Department will, in effect, create tens of thousands of jobs in France, rewarding the very company that our trade representatives have sued as rogue violators of trade laws.
“This aerial refueling tanker decision is about jobs, jobs for machinists, engineers, programmers and thousands of others in a critical economic supply chain,” said Michalski. “That supply chain can support the U.S. military and industrial bases in communities all across the country — including in Missouri — or it can support jobs and communities in France. The choice is ours.”
In less than 5 weeks, the employees of AHNTECH Inc. went from making initial inquiries about IAM representation to ratifiying a first contract with average wage gains of over 28 percent over the term of the accord. The new contract also includes improvements in paid travel time, severance pay, personal time off, guard/reserve time, shift premium, lead pay, health care, and the IAM National Pension Plan.
“This is an amazing story,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “These workers reached out to us, and about a month later, they had a contract that they could depend on. We are proud of our relationship with AHNTECH, and together we avoided the delay tactics that are too common today. We were able to focus on delivering a satisfied workforce to the company, and giving these workers the standard of living they deserve. It is truly a Win-Win for everyone.”
The workers, who are employed by AHNTECH Inc. at Dugway Proving Grounds, in Dugway, UT, first contacted the IAM about representation on July 20. Of the twelve employees, eight of them signed the “Authorization Petition.” After the signatures were verified by an impartial party, the IAM was given recognition rights for the new unit. On August 23rd, these new members ratified their first collective bargaining agreement. This entire process, from the first meeting, through the card recognition, and finally to a ratified contract, lasted a total of 34 days.
Grand Lodge Representative Mike Wardle led the organizing campaign, assisted by Local 568 President Richard Lee and in-plant committee member Chris Burbidge. Aerospace Coordinator Frank Santos headed up the contract negotiations and was a key part of the entire process. Together, these four comprised the negotiating committee, along with bargaining unit member Brian Graesser, who said, “Every day you are working without an IAM collective bargaining agreement in place, is a day you’re losing money.”
Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. appointed GLR Frank Forgione to assume the duties of Eastern Territory Organizing Leader (TOL) effective August 21, 2007. Forgione has been an IAM member for more than 40 years since joining Local 1363, District 54 in Cleveland, OH, while employed at Associated Transport in 1963. He was elected Shop Steward that same year. Frank was appointed Special Representative in 1979, and became a Grand Lodge Representative in 1983.
“Brother Forgione brings a wealth of knowledge to his new assignment,” said GVP Tucker. “His prior experience as an organizer and negotiator will enhance the organizing goals of the Eastern Territory and the IAM. Frank has an extensive background in NLRB work combined with a history in the automotive industry, all of which will add to the continued success of this organization.”