With handshakes, opening statements and a formal exchange of proposals, the latest round of contract negotiations got underway on February 20 between District 776 and Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth, TX.
Health care costs and pensions are top concerns for the 3,900 IAM members who build F-22, F-16 and F-35 fighter aircraft at the company’s Ft. Worth facility. The current three-year contract is set to expire on April 19, 2009.
“We will bargain hard for a fair and equitable contract for our members at Ft. Worth,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger, who joined the District 776 Negotiating Committee for the opening session. “We are also committed to our continued strong support for the F-22 and all the vital programs at the Ft. Worth facility.”
Also in attendance was Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez who noted that Lockheed Martin is a highly profitable company. “We are looking forward to a strong Machinists contract at Lockheed in 2009,” said Martinez.
For more information and updates on the IAM-Lockheed negotiations, visit www.776iam.org.
In light of the recent debate over the Employee Free Choice Act, editors of Parade Magazine want to know: “Does America Still Need Labor Unions?” Vote “yes” for unions in the new online poll by Parade Magazine.
Without labor unions there would be no Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance or 40-hour workweeks. But pro-business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate organizations are filling the airwaves with a vigorous anti-union campaign, arguing against the Employee Free Choice Act and saying unions are no longer useful.
A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute shows the average family needs at least $48,778 to get by. Nearly a third of U.S. families fall short. Pensions are less secure today as most employers have shifted the risk of an adequate retirement benefit to employees. And, women have yet to catch up with their male counterparts in salary. Too many Americans are not making enough money to support themselves or their families, and many more are forced to go without health insurance and other necessary benefits.
Unions give workers a voice and the protection they need to stand strong against unfair wages, poor health care, and lack of job and retirement security. The U.S. Department of Labor reports union workers made an average of $10,140 more than non-union workers last year. The Employee Free Choice Act would allow workers to join unions without the fear of losing their job or other repercussions from their boss.
Visit Parade Magazine’s online poll and vote “yes” for unions today.
The important issue of skills training will be the topic of discussion at an upcoming House committee meeting this week.
The Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness will kick off the drive to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), legislation which authorizes job training, adult education and vocational rehabilitative services programs. The law, which expired in 2003, is past due and has not been reauthorized since 1998.
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, chairman of the Subcommittee, says with 3.6 million jobs lost since December 2007 and 598,000 jobs shed last month alone, it is imperative that we modernize WIA in order to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
“We have failed to provide our workers with the education and skills that would help them weather the storm,” says Hinojosa. “Roughly half of the nation’s workforce currently lacks the basic education and communication skills required for jobs that pay family sustaining wages.
“An improved WIA should be a key plank in our plans to restore economic prosperity to America’s working families. We have an opportunity to update our job training programs so that they not only place workers into jobs, but onto career pathways that lead to better wages and advancement in the workplace.”
The Machinists union is mourning the death of former Grand Lodge Representative (GLR) Ed Pierce, 70, who died unexpectedly on February 21 at his home in Dunlop, TN. A GLR in the Southern Territory from 1986 until his retirement in 2006, Pierce served in numerous capacities during a 44-year career with the IAM. Among the positions he held were District 56 DBR, Secretary-Treasurer for the Tennessee State Council of Machinists and President of the Trades and Labor Council at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
“Ed Pierce was an integral part of this union for more than four decades,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger. “He was a good friend and a valued resource, from his earliest days as a shop floor representative, to the years he spent overseeing a range of union affairs at the TVA. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
IAM members of Local 755 and 964, who are employed at Goodrich Aerostructures in Chula Vista and Riverside, California, recently ratified a new agreement that increases the pension multiplier from $57 to $64 and provides $6,800 in lump sum payments over the course of the three-year agreement.
The members at Goodrich manufacture engine cowlings and thrust reversers for aerospace companies, including Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce and General Electric.
The new contract, which covers 822 members, includes a ratification bonus of $1,400, followed by lump sum payments of $2,750, $2,250 and $1,800 payable in March of each year. In addition to the pension improvements, the COLA formula was maintained and a new short term disability plan was added. Employee contributions for medical coverage remain unchanged for 2009, followed by modest increases in premium contributions in the following years.
“Congratulations to District 725 PDBR Gary Holt and his team, along with the negotiating committee members, for a job well done on this contract,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “Thanks also to GLR Bobby Martinez, Aerospace Coordinator Frank Santos and Loren Almeroth of the IAM Strategic Resources Department for their hard work in forging a great agreement in these tough economic times.”