iMail for Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lockout Shuts Down Harley-Davidson

Officials of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) planned to meet today with IAM and Harley-Davidson representatives in an effort to resolve the 4-day old lockout at Harley’s largest U.S. facility.

More than 2,700 members of IAM Local 175 in York, PA voted last week by 96 percent to reject a contract offer from the company that included a two-tier wage schedule for new employees, reduced pension benefits and increased health care costs. Members also voted by 98 percent to authorize a strike at the facility when their contract expired on Feb. 2, however, Harley officials shuttered the plant and erected concrete barriers blocking all access before the contract expired.

The lockout at Harley comes despite record profits and earnings by the motorcycle maker, which netted $1 billion profits last year. Harley is known around the world for its motorcycles and related products, experienced a dramatic rebound from the early 1980’s, when bad management and foreign competition nearly drove the company out of business. An oft-cited partnership with the IAM and other unions at Harley is credited for the turnaround.

According to financial analysts, the shutdown by Harley could cost the company as much as $3 million per day and lead to layoffs at other Harley facilities.

An example of local news coverage, including photos & video is available here.

New Contract for New Members in Georgia

Five hundred fifty-four workers at Eagle Group International at Ft. Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, GA now have a strong IAM contract, after voting for IAM representation in November.

The workers provide maintenance and logistics support for the 3rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, including heavy maintenance on the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle.

After winning the organizing drive last year, the IAM and Eagle Group quickly worked to negotiate a contract. “The employee’s main issue was contract language concerning treatment and a voice on the job,” said Southern Territory Special Representative Joe Greaser.

The new contract provides an average nine percent raise the first year and raises of four percent the second and third year of the three-year contract. The company previously had a 401k savings plan, which was retained, however, negotiators were able to add the IAM Pension Plan for a defined-benefit plan.

“Negotiations went very well,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez “This was certainly a team effort. Our negotiating committee from the shop, aided by Grand Lodge Representative Wayne Camp, Special Representative Greaser and District 96 Directing Business Representative Tony Wilson, did a fine job. I also want to thank headquarters’ Strategic Resources Department and Legal Department.”

The new members will be part of District Lodge 96 in Savannah, and there are plans to charter a new Local Lodge for the group.

It Pays to Belong in New Mexico

Daniel Lucero, a Mechanical Maintenance employee at General Electric in Albuquerque, NM, and two co-workers recently learned the value of an IAM contract with a strong grievance procedure. All three were returned to work after challenging an unjust discharge. In Mr. Lucero’s case, an arbitrator ordered the Company to pay more than $90,000 in back pay, benefits and overtime.

“People don’t realize what a vital role the Union plays in our day to day activities, especially when the chips are down,” said Lucero. “This is a prime example how well our Union represents the people. Hopefully this is an inspiration to back the Union and continue our solidarity.”

IAM representatives assisting the members of Local 794 in this case included GLR Rod Weigand and President/Directing Business Rep. Ernest “Red” Dow. “The bottom line here is the three stood up for what they believed was their protected right and justice prevailed,” said Dow.

“This is a great example of why workers need trained and dedicated representation. Without the hard work of Rod Weigand and Red Dow the company would have gotten away with violating the law and harming these members,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “I’m proud of how the IAM Representatives handled the issue, and I’m proud of our members for standing up and demanding the fairness they deserved.”

The History of Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time set aside to reflect upon the contributions and achievements of African-Americans throughout history. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks and W.E.B. Du Bois come to mind, but few know who started Black History Month. That honor goes to another great African-American, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, historian, educator, author, and journalist.

In 1926, Dr. Woodson, the son of former slaves, founded “Negro History Week”. He chose the second week in February because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (12th) and Frederick Douglass (14th), two men who greatly influenced the lives of African-Americans.

Woodson made it his life mission to conduct research and bring national attention to the contributions of African-Americans after recognizing their role in history was being ignored or misrepresented. His desire was to integrate African-American history into the curriculum taught in schools, not as a separate subject, but as a missing part.

“We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice,” said Dr. Woodson on the founding of “Negro History Week.”

The name was changed to “Black History Week” in the 1960s, and in 1976, the observance was extended to include the entire month of February. Dr. Woodson lived from 1875 to 1950.

Day of Action Shirts Available

The official 2007 Transportation Day of Action T-Shirt is now available.  Attached is the order form for the t-shirts that range from $7-$11 and the embroidered polo shirts that range from $30-$38, depending on the size.  Women’s shirts are also available, but are limited.  Members and locals are encouraged to order and purchase early. Download a printable order form here. Additionally, watch the latest Day of Action video, now available on the Machinists News Network on You Tube.

2007 IAM Legislative Conference

The IAM 2007 Legislative Conference will convene in Washington, D.C. on May 14 through Thursday, May 17, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Delegate registration will be held from 9:00 am until 12:30 p.m. on Monday, May 14 and from 8:00 am until 9:00 am on Tuesday, May 15. The opening session will begin on Monday, May 14 at 1:30 pm. IAM Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski will open the conference and will serve as permanent chairperson and International President Tom Buffenbarger will deliver the keynote address.

General sessions will begin at 9:00 am until noon on Tuesday, May 15 and Wednesday, May 16. There will be no sessions scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon so delegates may lobby on Capitol Hill. For a copy of the official call letter click here.

Molly Ivins, Born to Raise Hell

Nationally syndicated columnist Molly Ivins joined legendary satirists Mark Twain and Will Rogers last week after succumbing to cancer at her home in Austin, TX. She was 62. The 6-foot Texan’s columns appeared in more than 400 newspapers, where she gleefully exposed lies, corruption and just plain stupidity. Below is a sampling of some Mollyisms:

“I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”

“I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn’t actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.”

“If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drillin’ rights on that man’s head.” [on Dick Armey]

“If left to my own devices, I’d spend all my time pointing out that he’s weaker than bus-station chili.” [on Bill Clinton]

“Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.”

“If you think his daddy had trouble with ‘the vision thing’, wait till you meet this one.” [On George W. Bush (and George H. W. Bush)]

“So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.”