iMail for Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thousands Rally for Freedom to Form Unions

The AFL-CIO commemorated International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, with a two-day Organizing Summit and a big rally in Washington, DC for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). International Human Rights Day memorializes the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the freedom of all workers to form unions and bargain together as a basic human right. Passage of the EFCA is the labor movement’s top priority for the new Congress. The Act would make it easier for workers to join unions and reign in employer abuses against workers who want to organize their workplace.

“It is no accident that the 25-year decline in workers’ wages in our country has paralleled a 25-year slide in the size and strength of the American Labor Movement,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “Unions are the surest way workers protect themselves against corporate greed and lift their families up into higher standards of living.”

Sweeney led delegates to Capitol Hill to rally with more than 2,000 union activists and friends chanting and calling for rapid passage of the EFCA. Among those braving the cold was incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass).

“Twenty thousand workers a year are fired because they tried to bring workers together to form a union,” Kennedy told the demonstrators. He pledged to re-introduce the bill early next year in the Senate. In the House, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the incoming chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, also plans to re-introduce EFCA. Before the Democrats recaptured control of Congress, the bill had more than 200 co-sponsors in the House and more than 40 Senate supporters.

 Bechtel Bettis Members Win First Agreement

Members employed by Bechtel Bettis inside the Naval Reactor Facility near Idaho Falls voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first collective bargaining agreement. The 220 members, who joined the IAM last year, process spent nuclear fuel for the United States Navy and the Department of Energy. The new contract addressed members’ concerns over mandatory overtime and out-of-control shift schedules. 

“Overall, this is a very good first contract with gains in several areas,” said GLR Mike Wardle, who was assigned to organize the unit and then lead the negotiations. “ I was blessed with a fantastic committee to work with. Steve Dance, Linda Brown and Tim Anderson helped lead this process from the beginning of the organizing drive through the successful conclusion of the negotiations. They did a great job and represented this membership very well.”

The negotiating committee made other important gains including improvements in shift bids, pay rules, and the maintenance of benefits with no additional costs to the bargaining unit.

“These workers fought hard to gain some control over their lives,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “They spent years under the thumb of mandatory overtime and rotating shifts. I’m proud of GLR Wardle and the job he did. He stayed with them all the way through the process and they got a great contract together.”

 TCU Members Rally to Fight Outsourcing at Disney World

With their jobs on the line, Transportation Communications Union (TCU) members of Allied Services Division District 1908 in Orlando, Florida took to the streets to protest Disney World’s decision to outsource custodial, valet, bellhop, baggage handler and other jobs to private contractors. Nearly 600 jobs have been affected in the past year, and Disney plans to do more of the same starting early next year.

“There is a lot of uncertainty among the workers and this being the holidays makes it rougher for everyone,” says District 1908 Chairman Gary Lamboy. “We work hard and we are proud of the jobs we do to create the atmosphere loved by families for so many years. But we want to be clear with management that we stand together, and that was what this rally was about.” The rally was the first in a series of actions planned by the Council in the coming weeks.

TCU is a member of the Service Trades Council, a coalition of six labor organizations representing about 29,000 of the 59,000 employees at Disney World.

 District 54 Holds First Organizing Conference

IAM District Lodge 54 in Cleveland conducted their first annual Organizing Conference earlier this month. District officers trained 24 brothers and sisters to organize and grow the IAM. Participants hailed from all six of District 54’s affiliated local lodges.

The conference also raised $204 dollars for Guide Dogs of America to be used for Local Lodge 1297’s 2007 Guide Dogs of America fundraiser.

“District 54’s Organizing Conference was a critical step in getting our rank and file members involved in organizing,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “Thanks to District 54 President and DBR Dean Wright and his staff for getting the message out that organizing is our top priority.”

 Give a Union-Made Gift This Year

Last-minute Santas can still order union-made gifts for the holidays from the ShopUnionMade.org website at http://www.shopunionmade.org/. The site is sponsored by the AFL-CIO’s Union Label and Service Trades Department and offers buying information for a wide range of union-made products and services.

 Sizemore Elected to Key Cincinnati AFL-CIO Post

Eastern Territory Education Representative Doug Sizemore has been elected as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO (http://www.cincinnatiaflcio.org/ ) which represents over 130 Cincinnati-area labor unions. Sizemore will finish the term of former Secretary-Treasurer Dan Radford who has served in the post since 1987. Under Radford, the Cincinnati AFL-CIO established the largest Labor Day picnic in the country and Cincinnati has been recognized as a Union City by the National AFL-CIO.

“I am honored to have been elected as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council,” said Sizemore, a member of Local Lodge 912. “I look forward to working with our Affiliates and Delegates to ensure that when issues arise that have an impact on working families, we take them on with one loud, strong, and collective voice.”

“Doug has been an asset to the officers and members in the Eastern Territory. We look forward to working with him in the years to come as the new Cincinnati AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer. He is a true labor leader, and will continue to be an asset to the labor movement,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “Please join me in congratulating Doug and wishing him success in his new position.”

 Saenz Named to Midwest Territory Staff

GVP Philip J. Gruber announced the addition of Jorge Saenz as a Special Representative in the IAM Midwest Territory. Brother Saenz was appointed on December 1, 2006 and will be assigned to the IAM Midwest Territory office in Naperville, IL.

Saenz, who is fluent in Spanish, served as a Grand Lodge Apprentice Organizer working on campaigns all over the country prior to his appointment.

Saenz has been a member in good standing of IAM District 9 and Local 1745 in Warrenton, MO since 1973. He served on the Human Rights Committee for IAM District 9 in Bridgeton, MO. He was also involved in organizing and political activity through the district.

As a member of Local 1745, Saenz served as Vice President, Chief Steward, Conductor-Sentinel, District 9 delegate, and delegate to the Missouri State Council of Machinists.