iMail for Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Raytheon Members Win New Contract

Local 933 members at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ approved a tentative agreement, ending a 10-week strike against the aerospace-industry giant. The new agreement was hammered out with the help of a federal mediator during a marathon 18-hour negotiating session that began Friday and lasted until early Saturday morning. The talks were the first held since the walkout began on November 5, 2006.

“The Brothers and Sisters of Local 933 can be proud. They held the line and didn’t back down,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, who walked the picket line with Local 933 members last week.

Raytheon workers won a three percent raise each year of the new three-year pact, lower caps on medical cost increases than Raytheon originally proposed and an increased lump-sum payment of $1,000 to offset medical plan costs.

“Raytheon is making record profits, but they wanted Local 933 members to pay far more than their fair share. These members stood up for what’s right on behalf of aerospace workers in all of North America,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson.

“Our members at Raytheon were prepared and they held strong. They deserve a lot of credit for standing up to a multi-billion dollar company’s unreasonable demands,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge.

“I am extremely proud of our members and what they have accomplished,” said Local 933 Directing Business Representative Bobby Martinez. “They spent countless hours preparing for these negotiations and did everything that was asked of them, and more. Thank you to all of our members, their families and this community for their support and strength during this battle.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Honored in Houston

Bone-chilling temperatures and a wind whipped rain were not enough to dampen the spirits of the thousands of marchers and spectators who filled the streets of downtown Houston, TX, for the annual AFL-CIO parade in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Despite the cold, the IAM was well represented at this year’s event, with members from Chicago, St. Louis, Houston and Washington, D.C., carrying banners, children and chanting union slogans the length of the parade route.

“We all owe a debt to Dr. King – for what he made possible for us as individuals, and for what he made possible for us as a nation,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux. “It is fitting that his birth is now celebrated across the U.S. and in more than 100 countries around the world.”

More than a dozen international unions were represented at this year’s parade in Houston, which capped off five days of workshops, speakers and community service activities. Many of the week’s activities were coordinated with help from the Texas State Federation of Labor and the Harris County Central Labor Council.

In addition to workshops that examined the impact of the Iraq war on people of color and the renewed GOP assault on voting rights, AFL-CIO union members in Houston took to the streets to remember the slain civil rights leader by helping restore a city park in a day-long whirlwind of raking, shoveling and rebuilding.

A highlight of the week-long event was a Sunday sermon by Rev. Al Sharpton at the Fifth Ward Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, where the charismatic speaker and one-time presidential candidate exhorted the congregation to zealously guard the legacy of Dr. King, and to be wary of those who opposed him in life but now claim to honor him in death.

House Continues Action on Key Bills

House Democrats are set to continue their 100 hour legislative blitz this week, taking up bills that would reduce student loan rates and end subsidies for big oil.

Lawmakers on Wednesday will vote on legislation that would cut the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans to 3.4 percent from 6.8 percent. On Thursday, the House will vote on a bill that would roll back 2004 tax breaks extended to energy companies and create a renewable energy reserve to spur investment in new technologies and conservation.

In just over a week as the House majority, Democrats have already pushed through legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour, allow the federal government to negotiate for lower Medicare prescription drug prices and give more than 40,000 airport screeners at the Transportation Security Administration collective bargaining rights.

Democratic lawmakers have pledged to push through an array of legislation in their first 100 hours in power that would benefit middle class Americans.

Visit GOIAM.org to learn more about the “100 Hour War”.

IAM Joins in the Launch of Union Sportsmen’s Alliance

The IAM, along with 19 other labor unions representing more than 3.2 million workers, is joining forces with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) to form the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) to conserve large portions of federal land to ensure outdoorsmen have places to hunt and fish.

The USA’s primary goal is to keep pressure on the Bush administration and Congress to increase federal funding for protecting wildlife while simultaneously guaranteeing access for hunters and fishermen.

“Quality places to hunt and fish are disappearing — threatening America’s sporting heritage,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, a TRCP board member. “The USA will help turn the tide by unifying union sportsmen and women across the country to form a strong voice of influence.”

A recent poll commissioned by the group of labor unions and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership found that 70 percent of union members hunt or fish. Furthermore, 72 percent of those polled said they were concerned about the loss of places to hunt or fish.

“Conservation is a deep commitment of our members and we’ve found a partnership that shares those values,” said Buffenbarger. “If we work hard, we can ensure our members have a place to hunt and fish.”

Fisher Appointed IAM Assistant Controller

Linda Fisher, a member of the Accounting Department staff at IAM Headquarters for nearly 10 years, will be the new Assistant Controller effective February 1, 2007. Fisher is replacing retiring Assistant Controller Bob Shannon.

“Linda has proven over and over again her dedication in serving the IAM and its members,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Warren L. Mart. “Her knowledge of accounting procedures, coupled with her high-tech skills, will be invaluable assets to the entire GST Department.”