iMail for Tuesday January 29, 2008

‘America’s Edge’ Campaign Tours America

Teachers and students from Foshay Learning Center, a K-12 school in Long Beach, CA, joined, from left standing behind ‘597’ sign, former Governor Tom Vilsack, IAM District 947 DBR Richard Sanchez, and IAM Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. (Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson is standing in the second row behind the America’s Edge sign). The students asked union members in the Long Beach rally audience to autograph their signs.

The IAM’s“America’s Edge, Our Skills, Our Kids,” campaign got into high gear with a nationwide seven-state tour with stops in Cocoa, FL; Marietta GA; St. Louis, MO; Wichita, KS; Long Beach, CA, Seattle, WA and ending today in Chicago, IL, all key areas of America’s manufacturing sector including the space program, traditional manufacturing, and the aerospace and defense industries.

The cross-country event focused national attention on the growing skills shortage and the need for an infusion of state and federal funding for apprentice programs, vocational training, community colleges and high-tech institutes to promote American manufacturing and ensure good jobs for tomorrow’s workers.

“A national skills initiative should be part of a broader effort to revitalize America’s critical manufacturing sector,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “I hear from employers every day that are looking for qualified machinists, engineers and technicians with the skills to handle today’s high-end manufacturing technologies. There simply are not enough schools preparing people for the opportunities that are out there.”

At each stop, the IAM effort drew large crowds of Machinists union members, representatives from local vocational and technical schools, students, community leaders and local legislators, including an appearance in Wichita, KS by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius(pictured left). Former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and IAM Transportation General Vice President Robert Roach, Jr., addressed enthusiastic crowds at every city. Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack joined IAM Transportation General Vice President Robert Roach, Jr., IAM General Vice Presidents Lee Pearson of the Western Territory, Bob Martinez of the Southern Territory and Phil Gruber of the Midwest Territory at several locations.

“The response to this campaign was amazing,” said GVP Roach. “All Americans want a good future for their kids and they want to keep good jobs in North America. This tour brought together IAM members, students, teachers and politicians from communities across America. We all want a national initiative for more training and to keep the United States a leader in precision manufacturing.”


Robert F. Kennedy’s Children Endorse Clinton

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Kerry Kennedy, all children of the late Robert F. Kennedy, today endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for president.

“We have worked with Hillary Clinton for 15 years (and in Kathleen’s case, 25 years) and witnessed the power and depth of her convictions firsthand. We’ve seen her formidable work ethic, courage in the face of adversity and her dignity and clear head in crisis. We’ve also seen her two-fisted willingness to enter the brawl when America’s principles are challenged. Her measured rhetoric, political savvy and pragmatism shield the heart of our nation’s most determined and most democratic warrior,” they wrote in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

“Hillary is a problem-solver, listening to people and then achieving solutions by changing attitudes. Her transformational leadership was on display when she ran for the Senate seat in New York that had been held by our father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

“We need a leader who is battle-tested, resilient and sure-footed on the shifting landscapes of domestic and foreign policy. Hillary Clinton will move our country forward while promoting its noblest ideals.”

The endorsement for Senator Clinton comes the day after Senator Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy, endorsed Senator Barack Obama.

Click here (Los Angeles Times, free registration) to read the full article.


IAM Welcomes Final State of the Union Address

Last night’s State of the Union address was the last for President George W. Bush, a welcome milestone towards a new administration that will be on the side of working families. But there was otherwise very little to celebrate after seven years of the most anti-worker administration in recent history.

“It is difficult to know where to begin when assessing the damage done by this president and this administration,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “From tax policies that encouraged companies to move overseas, to a foreign policy manipulated by well-connected contractors, the best that can be said at this time is that our long national nightmare is finally coming to an end.”

Big Win for Flight Attendants at CommutAir

Flight Attendants at CommutAir, a regional air carrier headquartered in New York and serving 24 cities in eight states, voted overwhelmingly for IAM representation in an NMB-supervised election. The near-unanimous vote of 28-1 was announced following a count at NMB headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The organizing victory at the Continental Connection carrier brings representation rights to all 47 Flight Attendants at CommutAir, who approached the IAM with concerns about wages, benefits and working conditions. The newly organized group is expected to double in size with the addition of a large group of new hires currently in training.

The win was especially notable for the short time, barely 90 days, from the onset of the organizing campaign to the election victory. Airline organizing campaigns frequently take years to reach a successful conclusion.

“It is a great pleasure to welcome these Flight Attendants into the IAM,” said Transportation General Vice President Robert Roach, Jr. “Few industries are as volatile as ours and the best chance for airline employees today is with professional representation at the bargaining table backed by the support of tens of thousands of fellow airline employees across the country.”

Special thanks go to District 142 General Chair Julie Frietchen, and Local 2339C President Marcus Valentino, who helped coordinate the lightning fast organizing drive.

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