The Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) that was appointed in December to investigate the long-running contract dispute between Amtrak and nine labor unions issued its report to President George W. Bush on December 30, 2007. The lengthy report recommends adoption of nearly all of labor’s proposals.
The PEB agreed with labor that the National Freight Agreement should serve as a pattern for resolving this dispute. The board’s recommendations include wage increases proposed by the unions, full retroactive pay and no work rule changes.
When considering retroactive pay, the PEB agreed with the union’s position that Amtrak had, in essence, received an interest-free loan from its employees. The members of the PEB found that, “Amtrak appeared content to continue to work its employees at 1999 wages levels…” The board also determined that, “In this case, nothing short of full retroactivity is fair and equitable and appropriate to restore to employees lost wages that resulted from their inability to obtain a successor agreement over the unprecedented eight year period that employees have continued to work without a new agreement.”
In rejecting Amtrak’s proposal for dramatic work-rule changes, the members of the PEB noted Amtrak workers’ increased productivity and said, “The evidence introduced by Amtrak in support of its claimed need for these sweeping reforms was weak, at best, and with respect to many of the proposals bordered on non-existent.”
The Amtrak Shopcraft Coalition, consisting of the Machinists Union, Transportation Communications Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Transport Workers Union will attempt to resume negotiations with Amtrak, using the PEB’s non-binding recommendations as the roadmap to a new agreement.
If no agreement is reached by midnight on January 30, 2008, Amtrak workers will finally be able to strike. However, the possibility still exists that Congress may intervene in the dispute and impose an agreement. The Amtrak Shopcraft Coalition is preparing for all three scenarios: a negotiated settlement, Congressional intervention or a strike.
Earlier this year, the IAM unveiled ‘America’s Edge: Our Skills, Our Kids,’ an issue campaign aimed at drawing public attention to skills training, apprenticeship programs and greater funding for technical and vocational education. The Machinists campaign kicked off with a pair of TV ads in key states, membership mailings and a feature article in the upcoming IAM Journal.
In the next stage of the campaign, IAM members are invited to show their support by adding their names to the Blackboard on the America’s Edge website. The goal is to visibly demonstrate the growing demand for a national skills initiative.
A special section on the America’s Edge website has also been created where members can post video clips of themselves and their coworkers on the job. To sign the Blackboard and to learn more about posting your own video on the America’s Edge website, go to www.americasedgetv.com
The IAM is calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce to suspend a new program that allows companies in China to gain expedited access to sensitive U.S. aerospace technology, including telecommunication and composites technologies with potential military applications.
“It is naïve to assume that relaxing export restrictions on sensitive aerospace technology does not represent a significant threat to U.S. jobs, companies and communities,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “It is equally naïve to ignore the national security implications of such technology transfers to China.”
In a letter to the Under Secretary of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Buffenbarger took issue with one company in China that was recently approved for such expedited technology transfers under the Commerce Department’s Validated End-User program.
“The approval of one of these companies, Boeing Hexcel AVIC I Joint venture, will involve work on the Boeing 787 program that could have been performed by U.S. workers,” said Buffenbarger. “We find it very difficult to believe that your actions are good for U.S. workers or the U.S. economy.”
The Boeing Hexcel venture represents additional national security concerns, according to a report by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, an independent research foundation that monitors the spread of arms technology.“Reducing control on exports to such companies increases the risk that American goods will help China improve its armed forces, and that American goods will be sent illicitly to Syria or Iran.” The Wisconsin Report also noted that Boeing and Hexcel have been cited in the past for multiple violations of export controls.
Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez announced this week that Local 776B Educator James Parker became the Southern Territory Education Representative, effective January 1.
Parker, a 30-year member, has also served as an IAM CREST Associate Instructor since 1998, as well as the Safety and Health Coordinator on the Safety Committee at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX.
“James will be a great addition to our staff,” said GVP Martinez. “He is an experienced Educator, and will bring a great deal of knowledge to his new role for the Southern Territory.”
Enrollment deadlines are fast-approaching for the Communications Department’s Communicators and Intermediate Web classes held at the IAM William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center.
Registration forms for the Communicators Class, scheduled for March 2-7, 2008, must be received by Friday, January 11. This class is geared for Local or District Lodge Communicators who are not currently publishing newsletters or websites.
The deadline for enrolling in the Intermediate Web Class is January 18. This course, designed for IAM lodges currently operating websites and whose web stewards have attended Basic Web Design (not in the same year) will be held March 16-21, 2008.
Click here to download the official calls outlining class requirements and application forms. Completed Registration Forms should be faxed to the Communications Department at 301-967-4586.
While Iowans held the first-in-the-nation caucuses last week, Ohioans held their caucus to choose delegates for the Democratic National Convention. The event is considered to be the official start of Ohio’s March 4 presidential primary election on the Democratic side.
Labor was well represented and successful in three of Ohio’s Congressional Districts. In the 1st, 2nd and 8th districts, organized labor scored a total of 15 delegates, including Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr. and GLR James Smith.
Delegates from each congressional district will be divided among the presidential contenders who win 15 percent or more of the vote in the state’s democratic primary on March 4, 2008.
The IAM suffered a loss recently when retired Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative Roy Covington passed away after an illness. An IAM member since 1962, Covington held many local and district leadership positions in the Great Lakes Territory before GVP Don Wharton tapped him to serve as a Special Representative in 1990. Roy retired as a GLR in March 2002.
“Roy was a true journeyman Machinist and a great representative,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “We will miss him a great deal, and our condolences go out to his wife, Lattie Sue, and the family.”