iMail for Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Congress Poised to Act on Minimum Wage, Drug Prices

Two issues profoundly impacting middle class families will be on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this week: an increase in the minimum wage and lower prescription drug prices.

Lawmakers on Wednesday will take up the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 (H.R. 2), which would increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years. Despite the fact the minimum wage is at its lowest real value in 51 years and an increase would positively impact nearly 13 million Americans, Congress has not increased the minimum wage in nine years.

“It is a moral outrage that millions of Americans who work full time still live in poverty. If we truly value work, then we have to ensure that it is fairly rewarded,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA.), who introduced the bill.

On Friday the House will take up the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007 (H.R. 4), a bill that would require the Secretary of HHS to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of those who are enrolled in Medicare prescription drug plans. The bill would also require HHS to report to Congress every 6 months on the progress of drug price negotiations.

Increasing the federal minimum wage and giving the federal government the ability to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices are key issues in the Democratic pledge to push through an array of legislation in their first 100 hours in power that would benefit middle class Americans.

Visit GOIAM.org to take action today and learn more about the “100 Hour War.”

Raytheon Strikers Hold the Line

January 6 marked the 60th day of the strike by members of Local 933 against Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ. More than 1,300 members are demanding a better contract than the offer from Raytheon that denied pensions to new employees and sharply increased health care costs.

“It continually amazes me how strong and dedicated our members are to the cause,” said Local 933 DBR Bobby Martinez. “We still have some work ahead of us to resolve this strike. Our members have endured many hardships, but each one of us has become stronger as individuals.”

During the strike, Local 933 sponsored a Member Appreciation Day and welcomed support from labor unions across Southern Arizona who helped collect toys for the children of striking Machinists to celebrate Christmas.

Ft. Sill Organizing Drive Shows Results

Signing up government workers under an existing federal sector contract is unlike traditional organizing drives, but thanks to face-to-face communication and making sure workers understand the benefits of membership, Federal Local 273 is increasing dues-paying membership at the U.S. Army base at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

Federal Local 273 kicked off a drive in August, with the formation of a 15-member committee. Headed by Federal Local 273 President Zelda Cozart and aided by Special Representative Ann Walsh from the IAM Organizing Department, the committee held monthly meetings, planned an organizing strategy and held membership blitzes in different areas of the facility.  The local now has approximately 153 members, an increase of about 50 members since the drive began, and hopes to gain a total of 500 members by the time the drive is finished.

A strong track record of assisting local members is helping the organizing effort. The local successfully battled workers’ compensation issues for a number of members and assisted several members grieving inappropriate performance ratings.  Federal Local 273 has also successfully won multiple back pay cases. In one, a group of four women received a total of $54,000 when the local grieved their issue.

A wide variety of occupations are eligible for full membership in Federal Local 273, including police officers, firefighters, hospital workers, commissary employees, Job Corps and Department of Reclamation employees.

“Local 273 has accomplished a great deal over the last few months,” said NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 President and DBR Richard N. Brown. “Their hard work and commitment to growing are producing great results.  Zelda Cozart and Local 273 have raised the bar, and are an example to all NFFE-IAM locals of how to run a successful organizing campaign.”

Deadline Draws Near for IAM Scholarship Competition

The deadline to apply for a 2007 IAM Scholarship Award is fast-approaching. Applications must be postmarked no later than February 23, 2007, to be considered.

Information on eligibility requirements and application procedures may be obtained by going to http://www.goiam.org/content.cfm?cid=431.

“The scholarships are a great opportunity for children of IAM members – and members themselves – to continue their education,” says IAM Safety & Health Department Director Mike Flynn, whose department administers the popular program.

The competition is open each year to eligible members of the IAM throughout the United States and Canada and their eligible children. The IAM Scholarship Fund, which is used exclusively to make these awards possible, was first established by the delegates to the 1960 IAM Grand Lodge Convention.

IAM Survey Examines Possible Airline Merger

IAM members at United Airlines and Continental Airlines are taking part in a survey aimed at providing input to the Transportation Department’s Merger Team regarding the prospect of a merger between the two carriers. Online-surveys were also conducted during the US Airways-America West merger and are utilized by the Transportation Merger Team to determine employees’ feelings and concerns regarding potential mergers.

“There have been many press reports of proposed airline mergers,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “The Machinists Union must be prepared for any eventuality in order to protect our members.”

The IAM developed the brief survey in December for employees at both carriers. Due to the overwhelming response to the survey, it will remain available through January.

The survey is available from either the District 141 website, WWW.IAM141.ORG, or the District 142 website, WWW.IAMDL142.ORG. Workers at each carrier are urged to complete the survey to help ensure our voices are heard if a merger takes place.

New Year Brings New Members in Eastern Territory

District Lodge 4 is off to a flying start with their organizing efforts as the employees of DynCorp International C-21 and M.I. Support Services at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland voted recently to join the IAM and become members of Local Lodge 24.

Counting last month’s win at N.W. Florida Facilities Maintenance at Andrews, that brings the total to 11 units located at both Andrews Air Force Base and Pax River Naval Air Station now represented by the Machinists.

“Congratulations to District 4 Business Representatives Rick Compher and Vickie Fultonberger, DBR Tony Provost, and all the team for a job well done,” said Eastern GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr.

GVP Tucker also extends congratulations to District 15 reps Jim Conigliaro, Vinny Addeo, and Juan Negron for their job in successfully bringing into Local 447 the Technicians, Customer Support and Fuelers at Penske Truck Leasing in Budd Lake, New Jersey.