iMail for Tuesday, July 01, 2008

National Labor College Honors IAM Graduates

Eleven IAM members who earned Bachelor of Arts degrees from the AFL-CIO’s National Labor College (NLC) were honored this weekend at the school’s commencement ceremony in Silver Spring, MD. Overall, ninety graduates were honored at the ceremony, which marked the NLC’s 10th annual commencement.

“We are extremely proud of this year’s graduates,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger, who represented the IAM at the ceremony along with Winpisinger Center Director Chris Wagoner and Winpisinger Center instructor Charlie Micallef. “They have worked extremely hard to reach this point and should be commended for their achievements.”

The NLC is the nation’s only union-based college. Union members can earn their college degree in a program that balances the needs between work, family and study by combining online course work and periods of on-campus study at the college. IAM members have an added advantage because the NLC coordinates their program with the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center, allowing IAM students to use the Center to complete part of their course work. Also, many of the Winpisinger Center programs are now accredited and can be used for college-degree programs.

For information about earning a college degree through the National Labor College, contact Charlie Micallef at 301-373-3300.

Washington D.C. Local Achieves Historic Accord

Franklin Lodge 2135 negotiating team. Left to right, Business Rep. Rick Comphers, Bill Gimbel, John Elfrey, and Frank Carelli, Director, IAM Government Employees Department.

For nearly a decade, the bargaining committee of Franklin Local 2135 in Washington, D.C., struggled to overcome federal bargaining restrictions and secure better wages for the 37 members employed as machinists at the Government Printing Office (GPO).

On June 5, 2008, after a prolonged standoff at the bargaining table, the union reached a five-year agreement with the GPO that achieved their goal; parity in wages with who perform similar work at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). The bargaining unit realized a 23 percent increase in wages over the life of the agreement, including retroactivity to December 2007 and a $3,000 lump sum signing bonus.

“It was a team effort,” said BR Rick Comphers. “John Elfrey and Bill Gimbel never grew weary of the fight and kept their eyes on the prize. The committee worked tirelessly to keep the process moving forward and ensure the membership received the pay that they deserved.”

The victory was a long time in the making. In September 2006, the GPO withdrew a proposal that would have settled the dispute and instructed the parties to begin the process from scratch. Despite the delay, the local committee maintained their campaign and achieved an agreement that was unanimously ratified.

“The membership of Franklin Lodge 2135 should be proud of the tenacity and courage their bargaining committee displayed throughout this stressful ordeal,” said Director of the Government Employee Department Frank Carelli, who participated in the lengthy negotiations. “It was truly my pleasure working with them.”

Flood Victims Need Your Help

As rain swollen rivers begin to recede in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois, residents there are coming to grips with Katrina-like levels of loss and damage. Among the victims are IAM members who lost homes, cars, belongings – everything but the clothes on their backs.

In times of tragedy, the IAM appeals to its members, local and district lodges for donations to help brothers and sisters who are suffering. The latest effort to help the flood victims in the Midwest is now underway, with a letter appealing for donations from locals and districts throughout North America.

“Once again, the nation watched as levees broke and towns were submerged despite heroic efforts by local residents,” said Community Services Director Maria Cordone. “Their need for relief is just as great now as it was when the waters were rising.  The difference now is that we have a way to help.”

As quickly as funds are received, they will be distributed directly to IAM members and families on the basis of need. Previous disaster relief campaigns coordinated by the IAM Community Services Department have aided members affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as well dozens of IAM members left homeless by a 2007 tornado in Southern Alabama.

Ohio Local Holds 17th Annual Ride for the Guide

With thunderstorms nipping at their boot heels, more than 300 motorcycle riders took part in the 17th Annual Ride for the Guide on June 28. The event, hosted by Local 1297 in Ashland, OH, raised more than $10,000 to benefit the Guide Dogs of America (GDA).

Riders had an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets to win a special Custom Donnie Smith Harley-Davidson FLHX Street Glide that was on display at the event. The unique bike features a stretched gas tank, stretched front & rear fenders with a molded-in license plate holder, stretched saddle bags, custom seat, custom wheels, custom paint and graphics and a timing cover with the GDA logo.

Raffle tickets for the custom bike are still available for $5 each or 5 tickets for $20. To purchase a raffle ticket, call (818) 833-6421 or order online using PayPal, visit the GDA website at The drawing for the bike will be held November 22, 2008.

Canada’s High Court Protects Bargaining Rights

A decision by the Supreme Court of Canada confirms that trade union bargaining rights are protected when a company creates a new company and transfers part of its operation to that new company.

“This is a great victory for all unionized Canadian workers,” said District 14 Business Representative Bob MacKinnon. “We’re very pleased that the courts affirmed the importance of trade union bargaining rights when a company reorganizes.”

The case revolved a corporate reorganization that created a new company and transferred operations of the original company and led to the layoff of 160 IAM members.

The Alberta Labour Relations Board originally found that the initial $87 million capitalization was a successorship under the Labour Relations Code, which provides for bargaining rights to be protected. An appeals court overturned the decision, finding that there was no successorship. This was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court, which said that labour boards must be wary of creative corporate restructuring or reorganizations that undermine collective bargaining rights.

California Air Base Workers Join IAM for Wage Fairness

Thirty-five workers employed by Environmental Management Incorporated (EMI) at March Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Moreno Valley, CA, voted for IAM representation by a 97 percent margin. The successful election was the result of a three-month campaign by the District 725 Organizing Department.

The new members perform warehouse, hazardous materials and fuel distribution services for U.S. Air Force Reserve units stationed at March ARB.

“The workers became discouraged when the employer denied their request for wage increases to help them keep up with the cost of living,” said District 725 Organizing Director Brian Miller. “Although they were being paid in accordance with the Department of Labor’s Area Wage Determination, they were, in fact, grossly underpaid for their area. After meeting with District 725 organizers, these workers realized the best way to improve their wages and working conditions was by organizing with the IAM and bargaining for higher wages and better working conditions.”

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