iMail for Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Spring IAM Journal says ‘Enough!’

The 2007 IAM Day of Action is the centerpiece in the latest issue of the IAM Journal, the award-winning quartly publication of Machinists union. The May 17 event brought together over 5,000 union members and supporters from more than a dozen international unions for the largest labor rally in the nation’s capital in more than 15 years.

Union members at the day-long event cheered as a trio of presidential candidates pledged to restore the nation’s transportation infrastructure and more importantly, to reverse the assault on labor’s right to organize and bargain collectively for its members.

Ten IAM members are profiled in the latest issue of the magazine, giving poignant and personal views of life at the nation’s airlines, railroads and factories. “I feel angry and frustrated about the inequity and injustice of corporations using bankruptcy to take our wages and pension while CEO’s line their pockets,” said Local 1833 member and Northwest Airline’s Customer Service Agent Vicki Beebe, who sold her home to cut expenses after the airline used the bankruptcy process to reduce workers’ pay and benefits.

In a preface to the main article, IP Tom Buffenbarger urged IAM members across the country to add mass and momentum to the energy generated at the rally. “If we truly want to end the devastating attacks on working families by government agencies and corporate elites, we must do more than rail against our foes,” said Buffenbarger. We must act with boldness, decisiveness and forcefulness.”

Also included in the latest issue of the IAM Journal is a tribute to USMC Cpl. Jason Dunham, an IAM member’s grandson who received the Congressional Medal of Honor and the harrowing tale of IAM members in Enterprise, AL, who survived a direct hit from a Category 4 tornado. “Nothing short of an explosion describes the sound of your house being torn apart,” says Local 2003 member Jonathan Williams, who was among dozens of IAM members left homeless by the twister.

Members at Freightliner Ratify New Contract

IAM members of Local 1005 in Portland, OR, who are employed at Freightliner’s largest truck assembly plant voted 461-153 to ratify an improved contract offer after being on strike since July 3. “This contract will provide increased compensation to the employees while helping to put the plant on sound footing for a viable future in Portland,” said District 24 Business Rep. Joe Kear. “The addition of job security language in the Company’s final offer will provide a sense of security for the employees and their futures.”

Highlights of the three-year agreement include increased wages and pension, a lump sum bonus of $1,000 payable to all active employees on the payroll as of 7/16/07; new gainsharing program and an average 38 percent decrease in employee premium contributions on health and welfare. Full details of the agreement can be found on Local Lodge 1005’s website at

Tennessee Local 2545 President Sets the Record Straight

Since February 5, 2007, IAM members of Local 2545 in east Tennessee have been walking picket lines outside Maremont Exhaust Products in Louden, TN. The members struck after rejecting a takeaway contract from Texas millionaire Ken Banks, who bought Maremont in 2006. Rather than negotiate a new agreement, Banks in recent weeks launched a smear campaign against union members, including allegations of violence and “acts of terrorism.”

In a letter to the Louden County Daily Times, Local 2545 President Dale Smallen sets the record straight: “Last week the Daily Times ran a story containing wild allegations about union members made by Maremont owner Ken Banks. Without a shred of evidence, Banks called hard-working Tennesseans ‘terrorists’ and repeated his offer of a $10,000 ‘reward’ for information leading to the ‘terrorist’s’ capture.” Smallen invited readers to stop by the picket lines to see the people Banks calls terrrorists:  parents, grandparents and even veterans walking a legal picket line.

The Local 2545 President pointed out that the only crime connected with the strike was committed by a security guard hired by Banks who was arrested after hitting a picketer with his vehicle. The security guard fled the state after being arraigned and released.

“I sincerely hope this newspaper would not print cries of terrorism when there is no substance to those charges,” wrote Smallen. “The life-long citizens of central Tennessee deserve better than that.”

Photo caption: Members of Local 2545 on strike at Maremont Exhaust Products since Feb. 5 were cheered by neighbors during the July 4 parade in Louden, TN.

Boeing 787 Makes Bittersweet Debut

In an outdoor ceremony that combined hype, heat and no small amount of heartache, the Boeing Company unveiled the 787 Dreamliner, the company’s first new jetliner since 1994 and the first Boeing aircraft to be manufactured largely by overseas vendors.

Unlike past Boeing aircraft that were manufactured in the U.S., the 787 is a composite of composite parts, including wings from Japan, fuselage sections from Italy, doors from France, landing gear and engines from England and a tail cone from South Korea. Final assembly of the aircraft takes three days and is completed by IAM members of District 751 at the company’s Everett, WA facility.

“It is our members who stepped up to ensure the success of this plane, as well as every model before it,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski, who reminded Boeing that it was IAM members who ensured a successful debut when vendors fell behind schedule. “It is my greatest hope that the Boeing Company could recognize the full value of this highly-skilled Machinists union workforce and bring more work back into the company.”

Photo caption: More than 15,000 invited guests witnessed the traditional rollout of the non-traditional Boeing 787 at the company’s Everett, WA, facility.

Defense Unions Seek Rehearing of NSPS Case

A coalition of unions, representing Department of Defense (DoD) workers, including the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) are seeking a rehearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals of the May 18th ruling that upheld DoD’s new personnel and labor relations rules. 

The May 18 decision creates a conflict with an earlier decision and the union’s petition seeks to have the entire court review the discrepancies between the DoD decision and an earlier decision involving personnel rules at the Department of Homeland Security.

“The NSPS Appeals Court decision runs completely contrary to existing case law,” said Richard N. Brown, NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 President.  “This decision allows the Secretary of Defense to define collective bargaining however he wants to, when collective bargaining is a very well-defined term of art.” 

The court will now decide whether or not to rehear the case.  It could take just a couple of weeks up to several months for the court to make their decision on rehearing.

“It is our sincere hope that the full DC Appeals Court will rehear this case,” said Brown.  “Basic rights for over 800,000 Defense workers are on the line.  This case deserves consideration by the entire court.”