iMail for Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Congressional Representatives Join the Fight at Moncure 

The 114 members of Local W369 on strike against Moncure Plywood, in Moncure, NC, are getting some high-profile help in their campaign to bring management back to the bargaining table.

Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC) and members of the North Carolina congressional delegation have written a letter in support of the strikers to Timothy Fazio, the managing partner of Atlas Holdings LCC, Moncure Plywood’s corporate owner.

“We are concerned that the workers’ labor rights have been compromised and urge you to negotiate in good faith to reach an equitable agreement with the union,” wrote Rep. Etheridge in the letter which was also signed Rep Melvin Watt, Rep. Heath Shuler, Rep. David Price, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Rep. Larry Kissell and Rep. Brad Miller.

The men and women of Local W369 have been on strike since July of last year, when company representatives demanded 400 percent increases in employee health premiums, a 60-hour work week and the elimination of nearly all aspects of seniority.

“With a 60-hour mandatory clause, they could work people seven consecutive days for weeks without a day off,” said District W2 Business Representative Melvin Monford.

While on the picket lines, the Moncure strikers have endured harassment from local police, gunfire, and a noose hung in plain view of the largely African-American workforce. The company has hired replacement workers and refuses to negotiate for the return of its original staff.

The letter from North Carolina’s congressional delegation to Moncure Plywood’s corporate parent is part of the IAM effort to raise public and political awareness of the long running strike.

More than 4,000 IAM members and community members have shown their support for the Moncure strikers by sending letters to Moncure largest customers, urging them to contact Mr. Fazio and demand reinstatement of Local W369 members. Visit for more information and to show your support for the Moncure strikers.

Kourpias to Retire from Alliance of Retired Americans

Former IAM International President George J. Kourpias announced he will be retiring as president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. Kourpias was the Alliance’s first president since its inception in 2001. The Alliance has been a leading grassroots organization for the nation’s seniors, leading the fight to stop privatization of Social Security, advocating to protect Medicare and reform health care for all and mobilizing the nation’s seniors into a formidable political force. Barbara J. Easterling, former Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America, is expected to replace Kourpias as president of the Alliance.

“It has been a tremendous honor to help grow and lead a progressive army of grassroots retirees,” said Kourpias. “We have fostered a lifelong activism among union and community leaders, and I believe our collective voice has made a difference.”

Kourpias served as IAM International President from 1989 to 1997. He then became president of the National Council of Senior Citizens in 1998 and served there until taking over the Alliance of Retired Americans when it was founded in 2001.

“George Kourpias has never stopped fighting for working families. His work with the Alliance of Retired Americans is a testament to his dedication to making life better for workers, whether that’s on the job or in retirement,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “We’ve been proud to have him serve at the Alliance and wish all the best for him and his family.”

Link -  Alliance for Retired Americans

IAM-TCU Honors Pullman Porters Legacy

The IAM joins TCU in honoring the Pullman Porters for their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. labor history.

The Pullman Porters were part of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African-American labor union to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor. In 1978, the group merged with TCU and is the reason for TCU’s membership on the Amtrak On-Board Service Workers Council.

“Champions of civil rights,” is how TCU International President Bob Scardelletti describes the Pullman Porters. “Having their legacy continue in our union today is a great source of pride and harmony.”

Amtrak held a special ceremony honoring the Pullman Porters last week.

For more information about the Pullman Porters, visit the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum website

Register Now for May 10-15 EAP Class

The application deadline for the 2009 Employee Assistance Professional – One Program (EAP-1) at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, MD, is February 20. The course will be held May 10-15, 2009. This class is for members interested in EAP studies.

The IAM is in discussions with the National Labor College to develop a degree program for Machinists who desire a career in this field. “We are very excited about the possibility of implementing such a valuable and long overdue educational curriculum that will be fully recognized at the college level, your workplace, the employee assistance community and throughout the IAM,” said Community Services and Retirees Department Director Maria Cordone. “We urge as many members as possible to participate.”

Click here for the course description and to download the official call and course application. For more information, call Maria Cordone at (301) 967-3433.

‘Dirty Jobs’ Host Tackles Skilled Labor Bias

The host of the popular Discovery Channel program, ‘Dirty Jobs,’ has launched a new website aimed at raising awareness about the amount of skilled trades jobs being lost in the United States. 

After four years as host of ‘Dirty Jobs,’ Mike Rowe believes there is a bias against skilled labor as well as a nationwide shortage of educational programs to provide training for high school students interested in pursuing high-tech careers.

“I’ve come to believe that we marginalize skilled labor,” said Rowe. “We make fun of it.  We avoid it. And the consequences of doing so are not good. Our infrastructure is crumbling around us. Yet somehow, we have a labor shortage and high unemployment.”

With an arsenal of information and considerable personal experience, Rowe promotes educational awareness and user participation on the unique website. A long-time supporter of unions, Rowe is committed to nothing less than changing how the world looks at work and skilled labor.

Machinists Sign First Contract with Bombardier Tube

The newest members of Local 1758 in Montreal, Quebec, have ratified their first collective agreement with Bombardier Tube Centre. The 65 members manufacture tubing used in aircraft assembly at Bombardier facilities in the Montréal area.

“The biggest challenge facing the negotiating committee was establishing a wage scale that would satisfy the membership,” explained District 11 Business Representative Claude Boisvert. “The committee did an outstanding job. More than two thirds of the membership will have a wage increase ranging between 16 to 34 percent over the life of the three-year deal, while others will receive a smaller percentage increase or a lump sum payment.”

Other agreement highlights include improved scheduling for day and night shifts, a $200 allowance for personal eye glasses, a three-day pre-retirement course paid by the employer and 100 percent paid generic medication coverage.