iMail for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Negotiations to Resume with Harley-Davidson

IAM officials from Local 175 and District 98 will meet with Harley-Davidson representatives on Feb.14 in York, PA, in a bid to resolve the two-week old contract dispute at the company’s largest U.S. facility. More than 2,700 IAM members have been locked out since the company barricaded entrances to the facility shortly before the current contract expired at 12:01 on Feb. 2, 2007.

Earlier this week, Harley announced it will lay off more than 400 employees in Wisconsin in addition to cutting off health benefits for locked out workers in York, PA.

House Lawmakers Introduce Employee Free Choice Act

House Democrats introduced the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800) last week, making good on their pledge to introduce legislation aimed at improving the lives of working families.

Just two days after House lawmakers introduced the Employee Free Choice Act, (EFCA) the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions held a hearing examining the legislation. The hearing focused on the benefits of the EFCA, which would enable workers to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by restoring their rights to form unions.

Under current law, even if a majority of workers asks for union representation, the company can still seek a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) secret ballot election and use the delay to fire, threaten and coerce employees in efforts to keep their workers unorganized.

The EFCA would establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations, provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes and allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.

“Coercive employers determined to obstruct any effort to allow workers to organize have eroded the basic underpinnings of middle class life: decent wages and benefits,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ).

Legislation Gives Oregon Log Truckers Bargaining Rights

The IAM is supporting a bill (HB 2497) in the Oregon State Legislature to give log truck drivers the right to bargain collectively with the state’s largest forest land owners for wages, benefits and safety standards. 

“This bill will give log truck drivers the same rights that millions of workers have had for years,” said Rod Kelty, Director of the IAM Woodworkers Department. “These huge logging corporations are padding their bottom line at the expense of hard working drivers and their families. These workers deserve a level playing field.”

Most of the major timber corporations in the Northwest are contracting out log harvesting and hauling services solely to avoid providing health insurance, social security payments, and minimum wages for former employees. 

The IAM helped craft the legislation to establish a process for drivers to petition the state for a wage determination when hauling for the state’s largest forest landowners. In addition, log truckers can coordinate their activities and negotiate in a concerted and effective fashion.

“Many drivers today don’t have health insurance, they don’t have pensions and many are driving more hours than the law allows simply trying to make ends meet,” said District 1 Directing Business Representative Chuck Macrae. “These drivers deserve the right to have a voice in their hours, wages and working conditions. They should have a right to join a union and HB 2497 can help give them those rights.”

Click here to send a letter to Oregon lawmakers urging them to support HB 2497.

Trade Deficit under Bush Hits $3.37 Trillion

Spurred by increased deficits with China and a shrinking manufacturing sector, the U.S. trade deficit hit a record $763.59 billion last year. The overall trade deficit for 2006 was up 6.54 percent from last year’s total of $716.73 billion and pushes the cumulative deficit under the Bush administration to $3.37 trillion.

Thanks to the Bush administration’s failure to take measures to halt China’s unfair trade practices, the goods deficit with China jumped 15.38 percent to a record $232.55 billion last year.

The manufacturing trade deficit also increased another 4.66 percent last year, from $601.98 billion to $630.07 billion. As a result, employment in the manufacturing sector continues to struggle. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows manufacturing employment declined by 16,000 in January and by 110,000 over the last 12 months.

News of the worsening trade deficit comes as President Bush presses Congress to renew his Fast Track Trade Authority, which Democrats have said they will not approve unless existing and future trade agreements include more labor and environmental protections. Fast Track authority gives Bush more leverage in pushing his trade agenda that has failed working families.

Last Call to Enroll for Basic Newsletter Course

The application deadline for the 2007 Basic Newsletter Development course at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Placid Harbor, MD is Friday, February 23. The course will be held from April 29 through May 4, 2007 and is the only Basic Newsletter course for 2007. Local or district lodges who want to start a newsletter or train editors for existing newsletters are encouraged to apply. The course covers writing and editing, effective layout and design techniques and desktop publishing.

Click here for the course description and to download the official call and course application. For more information, call the Communications Dept. at 301-967-4520.