iMail for Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Machinists, Passenger Rights Group Join Forces

The IAM and the nation’s largest passenger rights group are joining forces to oppose any combination of United Airlines, American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines and Delta Airlines. The Machinists and the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) will coordinate legislative efforts and make the case that mega-mergers are not in the best interests of the flying public, airline workers or the cities the airlines currently serve.

“Airline employees and airline passengers have every right to be concerned about the negative impact of airline consolidation,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “These are the two groups essential to an airline’s success, yet they are the ones who are hurt the most in mergers. Airlines must work with employees and cater to passengers if they expect to succeed.”

The Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights is the largest non-profit consumer group for airline passengers in the United States. CAPBOR is the fastest growing grassroots coalition in history with over 21,000 members since being established February 10th, 2007.

“The importance of this alliance cannot be overstated and we look forward to working with the IAM,” said Kate Hanni, founder and Executive Director of CAPBOR. “Airline passengers bear the brunt of poor service. Combining two major airlines with diverse corporate cultures is a recipe for disaster.”

IAM-Lockheed Negotiations in Full Swing

With their current contract set to expire at midnight on March 2, negotiations between the IAM and Lockheed Martin are heading into the home stretch as IAM negotiators look to secure a solid contract for nearly 6,000 IAM members at eight Lockheed locations.

After months of preparation, negotiations kicked off in Palm Springs, CA on February 17 and are scheduled to continue through Wednesday. Over the past 10 days, members of the IAM negotiating committee have honed in on the issues members cited as their top concerns: pensions, health care, wages and job security.
“The negotiating committee has been working diligently to ensure they leave here with a contract they can take back to the membership that addresses pensions, health care and all of the issues our members have said they are concerned about,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis, who led the negotiation team comprised of local representatives from each location. “We are making progress, but there are still significant differences that need to be worked out.”

Members from Palmdale, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz and Vandenberg AFB California; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Marietta, Georgia; Meridian, Mississippi; Clarksburg, West Virginia will vote simultaneously on March 2.

A special IAM website will continue to provide updates on the progress of negotiations.

Take Action to Restore Rights for VA Workers

Among the victims of the Bush administration’s non-stop war on labor unions in the federal sector are health care professionals in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), who have seen their collective bargaining rights practically eliminated.
Management officials, emboldened by the administration’s anti-union animus, routinely circumvent the bargaining process on critical issues, leading to a sharp drop in morale among VA health care providers.
It’s time for Congress to do what is right for VA workers and the veterans they serve by passing HR 4089, which will restore meaningful collective bargaining rights for these dedicated men and women.

Click here to learn more and send a message to your representative urging them to stand up for doctors and nurses at our nation’s VA health care facilities.

Transportation Officers Weigh Merger Scenarios

Sen. Hillary Clinton addressed local officers via live satellite athte principal officers conference at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Center.

More than 120 Air Transport and Railroad Local Lodge officers convened last week at the Transportation Department’s annual Principal Officers’ Conference. Held at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Center, the conference took on added significance with the threat of looming airline industry consolidation.

“Airlines will attempt to use mergers to end union representation rights for tens of thousands or workers,” warned Transportation GVP Roach. “We have developed a strategic plan to defend our members and their contracts.”

The issue of dues structure changes generated many questions among the local officials at the three-day conference. “We opened a dialogue with our local officers and will establish local committees to give members and officers the opportunity to discuss the union’s future and to make recommendations,” said Roach.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addressed the local officers live via satellite and thanked IAM members for their support. Clinton repeated her support for airline workers in any consolidation scenario. “It is important that we preserve choice and competitive pricing in the airline industry,” said Clinton. “It is also vitally important that any proposed merger preserve the jobs and worker protections on which thousands of families rely.”

Kentucky Labor Secretary Honored

IAM leaders were joined by representatives from over 20 international unions recently in Cincinnati, OH, to honor one of their own, former District 154 DBR J.R. Gray, who now serves as the highest ranking labor official in the state of Kentucky.

A card carrying Journeyman Machinist and IAM member for more than 20 years, Gray was appointed to the post by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who was recently elected with strong support from unions and union members.

“Governor Beshear pledged during his campaign that working people would have a voice and a presence in his administration,” said Machinists President Tom Buffenbarger. “J.R has the union background and the legislative experience to be an exceptional Labor Commissioner. It’s an honor to call him a fellow Machinist.”
Prior to being named to the cabinet-level position, Gray served in the Kentucky Legislature for 26 years and was the Chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee during his tenure.

“I’d like to thank Commissioner Gray for all he’s done for working families in the past,” said Doug Sizemore, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO. “We know he will do even more, as Labor Commissioner, to improve the lives of Kentucky’s working families for generations to come.”

Register Now for Human Rights Class at WWW

The 2008 Basic Human Rights Class will be held on May 4-9, 2008, at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, Maryland.

“In our continuing commitment to civil and human rights for all IAM members throughout the United States and Canada, I strongly urge all lodges to participate in the Human Rights training,” said IP Buffenbarger.

The training provides practical information and guidance on how to establish a viable Human Rights Committee, as well as utilizing strategies to ensure that the committee operates in a proactive measure capable of assisting in the protection of our members’ civil and human rights.

Click here for more information and to download an application form.

Spectacular Hunting or Fishing Trip Could Be Yours

You could be next union member to win the outdoor trip of a lifetime on Escape to the Wild, the TV program that honors hardworking union members with hunting or fishing trips and is supported by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, VERSUS Network and the 21 unions of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

This season’s winners will venture to Argentina to hunt majestic red stag; join professional angler Byron Velvick for top-notch Texas bass fishing and trek Canada’s expansive tundra to hunt caribou.

Tune in this Thursday, February 28, at 7:30 PM ET to see the latest winner, IAM Local 1886 member Barbara Ries, as she hunts caribou in Canada’s Northwest Territory.

Click here to apply for your chance to win the hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime. The deadline for applications is April 15, 2008, or June 1, 2008, depending on which trips you select.