iMail for Tuesday, February 20 , 2007

Harley Workers in PA to Vote on Accord

Nearly 3,000 IAM members of Local 175 in York, PA, will get to vote Feb. 22 on a tentative agreement reached last week after two days of face-to-face meetings with Harley-Davidson representatives. If approved by the members, the accord would end the high profile 3-week dispute over health care, pensions and new hire rates. Full details of the tentative agreement will be provided to members at an informational meeting prior to the vote. Results will be posted on the Local 175 website at and on

‘Hire a Hero’ Aims to Link Vets with Aviation Jobs

Military veterans and the aerospace industry in Kansas could be dual beneficiaries of a unique program that seeks to match highly-skilled, highly-disciplined former soldiers with good paying jobs in that state’s rapidly expanding aircraft building industry.

In an historic meeting of labor and business leaders, IP Tom Buffenbarger joined with Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Ret. Maj. Gen. Matthew Caulfield and leaders of the state’s largest aerospace firms to unveil the Hire a Hero program in Wichita, KS, home to Spirit, Boeing, Raytheon, Cessna and Bombardier Aircraft.

“We believe the program we are launching today is truly the answer to the growing shortage of skilled workers in high tech manufacturing and aerospace jobs,” said Buffenbarger, who noted the presence of more than 3,000 aviation-related companies in Kansas and the expected surge in hiring over the next decade. More than 40 percent of the aerospace work force in Wichita alone is set to retire within the next four years.

The Hire a Hero program would evaluate and certify the skills returning soldiers acquired during military service and then steer them to aerospace-related jobs that frequently go unfilled for lack of qualified candidates. According to Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner, Wichita aircraft firms will need to fill between 5,000 to 6,000 new jobs this year alone.

Kansas Gov. Sebelius signed a proclamation of support for the Hire a Hero program and pledged to immediately begin promoting the program in Wichita.

IAM Backs Stronger FMLA Protections

In a strongly worded letter to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the IAM voiced support for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and declared its opposition to any attempt to weaken the landmark legislation.

“The IAM strongly opposes changes that would curtail existing rights under the FMLA, and we support regulations that will ensure workers can take full advantage of their FMLA protections,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger in a letter to Richard M. Brennan, the Senior Regulatory Officer of the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL. The AFL-CIO also submitted remarks in support of the FMLA.

“The FMLA has been largely successful at helping IAM-represented employees take care of their family’s and their own health while at the same time ensuring they can remain productive employees,” said Buffenbarger, who also expressed concerns over convoluted rules and complicated paperwork that prevents workers from getting the lawful leave they are entitled to.

“The Department of Labor should require employers to take steps to provide workers with adequate information regarding their rights and responsibilities under the FMLA,” said Buffenbarger. “Particularly, employees should be expressly notified of their right to take intermittent leave.”

In addition to traditional leave, current FMLA regulations allow for intermittent leave, which ensures that employees can take a few hours or a few days to attend to their own serious medical condition or that of a family member.

The FMLA allows employees to balance their work and family life by taking unpaid leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child or the care of a child, spouse or parent who has a serious health condition.

Watch Wrench Wizards Compete for Top Honors

The command “Begin your teardown… now!” marked the start of the 2007 Chi-Town Tear Down Pit Crew Competition, where teams of Chicago-area high school and college students raced the clock and each other to disassemble and reassemble a modern automobile engine.

The competition, now in its 7th year, began when Local 701 BR Tom Gregg had an idea for a program to give young students an opportunity to better understand what it takes to be a skilled and successful auto mechanic. Watch Chi-Town Tear Down Pit Crew Competition 2007 at

Budget Ploy Threatens NASA Workers

A parliamentary budget maneuver by last year’s GOP-controlled Congress is threatening federal workers, including critical NASA employees in Florida and Texas. After last year’s election gave control of 110th Congress to the Democrats, the Republican-controlled 109th Congress failed to pass a budget for 2007. In the last days of the 109th Congress, GOP leaders passed a continuing resolution that funds the federal government at 2006 budget levels and left passing a new budget up to the 110th Congress.

The GOP’s continuing resolution, however, leaves workers in federally funded programs, including highly skilled workers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Houston Space Center in Texas, in danger of layoffs because 2006 budget levels do not provide adequate funding.

The IAM is pressing the newly-elected Congress to pass a budget for 2008 that properly funds jobs directly impacted by the federal budget. “Now that we have strong allies in Congress, we must let them know that promoting U.S. jobs and retaining critical skills in the federal workforce is a top priority,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger.

“The IAM is at the forefront of the fight for U.S. jobs,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “For example, District Lodge 166 Directing Business Representative John Walker currently serves a member of the Board of Directors at Space Florida, appointed by the Governor of Florida, to obtain and keep high-tech jobs in Florida.”

Click here ( to tell your Congressperson and Senators to pass a budget that protects American workers and NASA jobs in Texas and Florida.