iMail for Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Giant Rat Stalks Arkansas Ford Dealer

Members of LL 260 in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, rolled out labor’s trademark symbol of corporate greed and thievery recently at Landers Ford in Bentonville, Arkansas, where workers have been seeking union recognition since July 2005.

The auto technicians were locked out by Landers’ management immediately after petitioning for IAM recognition and were replaced with SCAB workers.

“The appearance of the big rat certainly brings Ford some well deserved attention for the injustice our members have endured there,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, who recently joined the Ford techs on their picket line.

The members of LL 260 have enjoyed wide support from the community and state AFL-CIO leaders even though Bentonville is the headquarters of the notoriously anti-union retailer, Wal-Mart.


Aloha Airlines Says Adios to Bankruptcy

After 15 months and lengthy negotiations with its unionized workforce, Aloha Airlines emerged from bankruptcy last week into a still turbulent industry. It’s now up to Aloha’s management team to demonstrate that they can run a competitive, successful airline without the protection and assistance from the bankruptcy court.

 “IAM members were called upon to make enormous sacrifices under the threat of the bankruptcy court rejection of our contracts, and the membership did what was needed to preserve jobs, said District 141 President Randy Canale. 

“Without their help this airline would not be operating today, and that is a fact that Aloha management should never forget.”

 When Aloha entered bankruptcy on December 30, 2004, many so-called experts and industry analysts predicted the airline would not survive. Indeed, there were times when it looked like the airline would shut down and be forced to liquidate, but IAM members and other employee groups at the airline ratified new agreements that protected jobs, pensions and the carrier’s ability to secure exit financing.


Puerto Rico Helicopter Techs Vote IAM

Two recent organizing victories in Puerto Rico prove the IAM’s focus on winning bargaining rights for workers goes far beyond the continental United States.

An overwhelming vote for the IAM on Valentine’s Day by 29 workers who repair and maintain helicopters for L3 Vertech in Aquadilla, Puerto Rico is the latest IAM organizing win in this island outpost of the Southern Territory. The election follows an IAM organizing victory a year earlier at DynCorp, also in Aquadilla.

“Vertech employees John Vigueras and Bobby Taylor were able to keep the employees together and deserve credit for doing an outstanding job,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “I’m extremely proud to welcome these new members into the IAM.”


Drug Plan Strikes Out with Seniors

Frustrated by confusing options and a lack of answers, America’s seniors continue to reject the GOP-brokered Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Among seniors 65 years and older, 53 percent rate the program negatively, compared to just 25 percent who rate it positively, according to a Democracy Corps report.

A Washington Post story published today shows just 1.4 million of the 8 million people eligible for the new coverage have signed up.

Highlighting the Bush administration’s loyalty to drug companies and HMOs, the beginning of the Medicare Part D program seems to have coincided with a crackdown by U.S. customs on shipments of prescription drugs from Canada, leaving seniors who can’t afford prescription drugs in the U.S. in further peril.

In a Los Angeles Times article, Calgary-based MinitDrugs president Barney Britton revealed his company had more than 800 seizures of shipments in January, up from the usual 15 a month.


District 15 Organizes Penske Truck Leasing

District 15 brought 11 new members into the Machinists Union recently by organizing the technicians and customer service representatives at Penske Truck Leasing in Scarborough, Maine.

“This is the fifth organizing win for the Eastern Territory this year,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr.

“ On behalf of the Eastern Territory and its members, I want to welcome these new members and extend our congratulations and appreciation to District Lodge 15 Directing Business Representative Jim Conigliaro, Business Representative Russ Gittlen, and all of the team for a job well done.”


NLRB Rules for IAM in Valley Honda Case

IAM District 98 recently won a key decision that demonstrates the benefits of an IAM contract include having the legal resources to ensure a company obeys the law. 

An NLRB Administrative Law Judge ordered Valley Honda in Monroeville, PA to abide by the recently ratified contract and cease and desist from all unfair labor practices. 

“This is a major victory for the employees at Valley Honda, and the Union will pursue getting all Valley Honda employees the back pay and benefits that the Union negotiated for them,” said District 98 Business Representative Todd R. Fichera.

The union negotiated with the company for a first union contract. After the members ratified the contract the company refused to sign. The union was forced to file unfair labor practice charges against the company to sign and honor the contract.

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