iMail for Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pratt & Whitney Machinists Ratify Agreement

More than 4,100 IAM members who work at jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney (P&W) in Connecticut voted overwhelmingly this week to ratify a three-year contract that contains annual pay raises of 3.5 percent and a 16 percent improvement in pension benefits. The contract also provides a $3,000 bonus and significant protections for nearly 900 electricians, plumbers, machine repair workers and other support employees not previously covered by the agreement’s job security language.

The lack of job security language led to an overwhelming rejection of an earlier offer by the IAM members at P&W plants in Cheshire, East Hartford and Middletown, CT. The new agreement, which replaces a contract that was set to expire at midnight December 2, was approved by a vote of 2,831 to 326.

“The major gain was job security,” said IAM Chief Negotiator Jim Parent, Assistant DBR of District 26, who explained the agreement also guarantees that the work for the military’s Joint Strike Fighter and several other major projects will be done in Connecticut. “Now that we protected that work, we can look to grow jobs here in Connecticut.”

“The members put Pratt & Whitney on notice when these talks opened,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “They held firm until they had a contract that reflected the recent surge in jet engine production. Congratulations to District 26 DBR Everett Corey, ADBR Jim Parent and the entire bargaining committee.”

IAM Members Win Union Plus Scholarships

Two IAM members are among the winners of the 2007 Union Plus “Union Leaders of the Future” scholarship program. The program, which was established to help more women and people of color become union leaders, provides up to $3,000 to aid in the cost of continuing education or training in pursuing union careers and leadership skills.

Applicants for scholarships must be current union members and are evaluated according to leadership potential, career goals, social awareness and financial need.

The IAM winners are Melissa Campbell of Chandler, AZ, a 20-year member and President of the Arizona State Council of Machinists. She also serves as Educator and Vice President of Local 2559, and, effective January 8, 2008, will be president of the Local. Also winning a scholarship is Benita Boston Anderson of Las Vegas, NV, a nine-year member currently serving as Recording Secretary, Communicator and Web Steward of Local 845 in Las Vegas, NV. Boston Anderson also serves on the Human Rights, Women’s and Community Services Committees. Both winners are looking forward to receiving degrees in Labor Studies, and both plan to use that education in teaching others about the labor movement.

The “Union Leaders of the Future” scholarship program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation. You can learn more about the scholarship program by clicking here.

40,000 U.S. Aerospace Jobs at Risk

In the near future the U.S. Air Force will be making critical decisions regarding the purchase of a new fleet of refueling tankers. This decision will have a profound impact on America’s aerospace industrial base and IAM jobs. At stake are over 40,000 U.S. aerospace jobs at 300 contractors, including those at IAM-represented facilities of Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and Spirit Aerosystems.

Boeing’s KC-767 Advanced Tanker clearly offers the best opportunity and value for the U.S. Air Force and for American aerospace workers. 

Click here for more information and to send a message to Congress to choose the KC 767 Tanker.

Clinton Calls for Moratorium on Foreclosures

Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton called for a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures to give financially troubled borrowers the opportunity to work with lenders to avoid losing their homes.

The Treasury Department is negotiating with major mortgage lenders to stem the foreclosure crisis that has sparked a severe downturn in the housing industry and threatens to tip the economy into recession. The foreclosure rate in the U.S. has nearly doubled this year and more than one million home loans will reset at substantially higher interest rates next year.

“Experts now say that the foreclosure crisis is weakening the economic outlook, hurting industries from construction to auto, and making banks reluctant to lend companies the capital they need to expand and create jobs,” Clinton said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

To stabilize the mortgage market and give homeowners a chance to keep their homes, Clinton demanded that any agreement have a foreclosure moratorium of at least 90 days on subprime mortgages on owner-occupied homes; freeze the rate on adjustable mortgages for at least five years or until the mortgages have been converted to fixed-rate loans and require mortgage companies to disclose the number of mortgages it modifies.

“It is critical that we address this crisis,” Clinton continued. “The administration and the mortgage industry must reach an agreement that matches the scale of the problem. If you produce an inadequate agreement, or fail outright, the cost to our economy will be incalculable.”

Amtrak Workers Ready for a Change

After eight years without a general wage increase, the Machinists who maintain Amtrak passenger trains are sick and tired of waiting for their ship to come in. Thanks to poorly enforced labor laws, Amtrak officials have been able to block new contract terms since the last agreement became amendable on January 1, 2000.

The long delay was extended even further last week when President Bush announced a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to investigate the long-running dispute and make recommendations for a settlement. By creating the PEB, the President pushed back a December 2 strike deadline, removing any real incentive for Amtrak officials to bargain with unions representing rail workers.

“The laws that govern collective bargaining for rail workers have been manipulated to prevent a new agreement,” said Local 1284 member Glenn Johnston, who recently spoke with sympathetic passengers at the Amtrak station in Wilmington, DE. “We want to be treated fairly and we want the law to work the way it was designed to work.”

In a letter to the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency responsible for rail negotiations, IAM Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. cited Amtrak’s demands for major work-rule concessions and its stance that it will not pay retroactive pay. “A settlement on such terms would disrupt future rounds of collective bargaining in the industry as it would reward carriers for refusing to bargain in good faith,” said Roach.

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