iMail for Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Father, Daughter Team Hard to Beat

Some hereditary traits are known to skip a generation or weaken over time, but loyalty and tenacity just keep getting stronger at one IAM family in the Eastern Territory,

The legendary Paul Kelly served the IAM and its members in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island as a local officer, district official and Grand Lodge Representative before his untimely death in 2001.

His presence was a guaranteed inspiration at negotiating tables, picket lines or in any of the battles he fought during his many years of service. One hotel in Maine went so far as to mount a plaque to commemorate the time Paul spent there during a particularly lengthy and difficult negotiation.

His daughter, Mary Kelly, grew up accompanying her father to union events around the Northeast, and apparently picked up more than a few of her father’s interests along the way.

Now a highly respected labor lawyer at Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly in Connecticut, Mary Kelly recently won an important victory on behalf of IAM members at Local 743 in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

The case involved plans by Hamilton Sunstrand Corp. to relocate bargaining unit work away from the facility, a move that would result in the loss of 78 members’ jobs.

The surprise announcement came despite contract language requiring the company to share plans regarding “manufacturing costs, productivity, scheduling, business and staffing plans affecting the bargaining unit.”

The issue took on greater importance when the company challenged the contract’s arbitration clause, arguing its right to transfer work was beyond the scope of the contract and beyond the authority of any arbitrator.

On November 30, 2005, a Connecticut District Court Judge soundly rejected the Company’s claims and agreed with the IAM’s position presented by Mary Kelly. The decision marked a major victory for IAM members seeking to protect their contract, their jobs and their rights under the law.

St. Louis Machinists Ratify GKN Offer

IAM members of District 837 in St. Louis, Missouri voted by 58.3 percent to ratify a new 3-year contract with GKN Aerospace. The District 837 Bargaining Committee unanimously recommended acceptance of the contract prior to the vote by members.

A total of 439 members voted to accept the proposal and 312 voted to reject. The 58.3 percent majority exceeds the required 50 percent needed to ratify the proposal.

Machinists at GKN approved the accord despite concerns over the final pension multiplier and contract terms regarding retirement health care.

District 837 President Rick Smith noted the difference between the latest offer from GKN and the company’s original proposals that led to an overwhelming strike authorization vote last month.

“It was through your solidarity in the shop for the last few months, especially the last few weeks, that forced the GKN Company to withdraw many of their substandard proposals in the final hours and give you something you could live with,” declared Smith.

The approximately 900 members employed at GKN will receive General Wage Increases of 3 percent, 2 percent, and 2 percent respectively over the next three years.

The Pension multiplier was increased by 10 percent, from $50 per month per year of service to $55 per month. The cost of employee healthcare was contained to a 10 percent increase in 2006 with an additional 1 percent in each of the next two years.

Cost of Living Adjustments for IAM members was also retained, with a guaranteed increase of 34 cents each year.

Machinists Protest Windfall for Maytag CEO

At a special meeting of Maytag stockholders this week, IAM leaders welcomed the potential new owners of the Maytag Corporation, and expressed outrage over the compensation terms recently unveiled for current Maytag CEO Ralph Hake.

In addition to a contract, which could provide Hake with millions if the merger with Whirlpool goes through, Maytag’s board approved stock option grants that could provide Hake with an additional $1.4 million if the merger is concluded after January 1, 2006.

“Under Ralph Hake, Maytag’s stock price tumbled from a high of $70 per share in 1999 to a low of $10.49 per share just prior to the merger being announced,” declared Midwest Territory GLR Cristina Nedrow, who blasted board members for their action and called on Hake to donate the windfall to food pantries and shelters in Galesburg, Illinois.

More than 1,600 Maytag workers lost their jobs when Hake closed the Galesburg facility and moved Maytag refrigerator production to Reynosa, Mexico.

District 111 DBR Steve Jones emphasized the importance of preserving good paying manufacturing jobs in the United States. “Keeping the work here will ensure the same quality product the Maytag name has built in its 100 year plus reputation on,” said Jones.

“The IAM has a long history of working with corporations that have brand name recognition based on its status as an American company, such as Harley-Davidson. We look forward to assisting Whirlpool rebuild and revitalize the company for future generations of Maytag appliance purchasers and workers.”

Delphi Backs Down on Pay Cuts

In the face of increasing pressure from angry shareholders, customers and a determined coalition of unions representing workers at Delphi Corp., the bankrupt auto parts giant pulled a controversial proposal to slash union workers’ pay from $27 per hour to as low as $9.50 per hour.

Delphi said it was formally withdrawing the proposal because General Motors Corp., Delphi’s largest customer, has entered the negotiations, but added that it could return to the original proposal if an agreement was not reached by February 17, 2006.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger called the announcement by Delphi “a step in the right direction,” adding that he hopes Delphi’s announcement “results in a meaningful change in its position, but only time will tell if that is the case.”

In November, the IAM joined the coalition of six unions called Mobilizing at Delphi, to fight the proposed wage and benefits cuts at the auto supplier. In addition to the IAM, the coalition includes the United Auto Workers, International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America, United Steelworkers, International Brotherhood of Electrical and International Union of Operating Engineers.

Study Examines Aircraft Repair at Non-Certified Facilities

new report from the Inspector General of the US Department of Transportation says more and more scheduled airline maintenance work is being done at non-certificated repair facilities.The study also found that there is no limit to the amount or types of maintenance activities these facilities can provide.

According to the study, U.S. airlines currently contract out more than 50 percent of their aircraft maintenance work. Much of this work is done at independent facilities that are certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, the study found that there is another segment of the industry that is widely used by air carriers but is neither certificated nor routinely reviewed by the FAA.

The FAA currently allows aircraft maintenance to be conducted at non-certificated facilities as long as an FAA-certified mechanic oversees it. The Inspector General found that practice to be an inadequate substitute for work performed at a certificated repair station, with its multiple layers of oversight and quality control.

The study also found that the FAA was not aware that these non-certificated maintenance shops were being used increasingly for more than just emergency repairs.

The report urged to the FAA to expand its oversight responsibilities and correct the disparity between certificated and non-certificated repair stations.

District 34 Organizes Ohio Truck Techs

District 34 recently brought 12 new members into the Machinists Union by organizing the automotive technicians at Center City International Trucks, Inc., in Hebron, Ohio. The new members will join IAM Local 1471.

“This makes 36 organizing wins for the Eastern Territory totaling 1,076 new members this year,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr.

“On behalf of the Eastern Territory, I extend our congratulations and appreciation to District 34 Assistant Directing Business Representative Michael Hall, and a special thanks to all of the team for a job well done.”

Giving the Gift of Solidarity

Thanks to the generosity of Florida union members and some help from Santa himself, more than 70 children of IAM members on strike against Boeing recently received toys, gifts and a Christmas they won’t forget.

Nearly 1500 IAM members have been on strike since Nov 2 at Boeing facilities in Florida, Alabama and California. Despite the pressure of a strike during the holidays, over 80 percent of the strikers are standing firm and honoring picket lines.

In addition to fundraisers by members of Local 2061 in Cocoa, FL and Local 773 in Merritt Island, FL, area unions across the state are raising money to help strikers there get through the Christmas season. Local 2061 alone raised over $21,000 for striking families.

“Boeing has chosen to force our members onto strike during the holidays,” said IAM Business Representative John Walker. “Boeing may not care what kind of Christmas the families of their workers have, but we do. I’m very proud of all the union members who have stood beside our folks in their time of need.”

“This is what the IAM and solidarity is about,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Bob Martinez. “We’ll make sure Boeing isn’t the Grinch that steals our children’s Christmas.”

‘Job Tracker’ Tracks Rogue Companies

Working America , a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, has launched a web site to give workers more information about companies, including which ones export jobs and lay off workers.

Job Tracker first went online last year with data on outsourcing, and was recently expanded to include a database of companies that violate labor laws and threaten the health and safety of workers.

Job Tracker contains an online database with information on more than 60,000 companies, and is the most comprehensive source on violations of workers’ rights gathered through Freedom of Information Act requests and information from the Department of Labor.

In addition, the database compiles information from news media, lawsuits and the website

The website allows people to find information on labor law or health and safety violations, categorized by specific company or whole industry. A zip-code search provides a return of all area companies that have shipped jobs overseas or violated federal labor law.

NMB Urged to Rule on Airline Merger

In a strongly worded letter to the chairman of the National Mediation Board, Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., urged the board to act on the IAM’s request for a ruling that US Airways and America West are operating as a single carrier.

“Our members are growing frustrated by the delay in this process,” said GVP Roach. “Inasmuch as they stand to lose seniority, protection of their work, and a possibility of participating in a defined benefit pension plan, we are on their behalf requesting that this process be expedited to its ultimate conclusion.”

The recent merger of US Airways and America West triggered the need for a transition agreement to define wages, benefits and representation rights for employees at the combined carrier. The absence of a single carrier ruling is a major roadblock to negotiations for a workable transition agreement. The IAM represents Fleet Service and Mechanic & Related workers at US Airways. The Transport Workers Union represents fleet workers at America West and the Teamsters represents its mechanics.

Grand Lodge Sets Holiday Closing

IAM headquarters will be closed for the holidays from December 21, 2005 at 4:00 pm until 8:00 am January 3, 2006.