iMail for Tuesday July 11, 2006

Democrats Debate the ‘Vision Thing’

Subtle but profound differences over the future of the Democratic Party were apparent in recent back-to-back presentations to the New Democratic Network (NDN) by New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Click here to listen to both speeches.

Senator Clinton rolled out a litany of Democratic domestic priorities stymied by the GOP-controlled Congress while Governor Vilsack pointed to victories won by Democrats at the state level.

On jobs and international trade, two issues of direct concern to IAM members, the contrast was striking. Governor Vilsack talked about jobs lost to global trade and called for “a new social compact that gives workers a voice” in corporate decision-making. Senator Clinton, describing herself as a free-trader, complained about the lack of enforcement by the Bush administration of existing trade laws.

“It is still early,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “But Machinist union members are listening carefully to this debate. They want candidates who will challenge the status quo on jobs and trade.” 

Election Set for AK Steel in Ohio

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will conduct a representational election in Middletown, OH on July 26-27 for 2,700 locked out members of the Armco Employees Independent Federation (AEIF).

The election will provide members of the 67-year old independent union with an opportunity to join the IAM and negotiate participation in the IAM National Pension Plan. Leaders of the AEIF encouraged members to sign authorization cards for the IAM and more than 60 percent did so.

A board official said the NLRB traditionally supports manual, walk-in elections because they are more easily initiated and provide more control over the proceedings. Results of a walk-in election are also available faster than an election using mail ballots.

Management at AK Steel urged the NLRB to hold a more prolonged mail ballot election, despite claims that it had no interest in who represented the workers at AK Steel.

Bush Board Aims to Outsource Amtrak

“We write to voice our dismay and outrage over the plan of the Amtrak Board of Directors to consider the outsourcing of Amtrak jobs overseas,” said U.S. Senators Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) and Patty Murray, (D-WA) in a letter sent week to Amtrak Chairman David Laney.

The Amtrak board, comprised entirely of Bush appointees, notified Senators Byrd and Murray that they plan to invite private vendors, including overseas vendors, to take over major parts of the passenger rail reservations system.

“We welcome efforts to reduce Amtrak’s operating losses, but we believe it is wrong to use taxpayer dollars to ship Amtrak jobs overseas and put American workers on the unemployment line,” said the Senators. “This policy insults American taxpayers who expect their elected and appointed leaders to strengthen rather than erode the economic security of hard-working American families.”

Senators Byrd and Murray warned that unless Amtrak reverses its outsourcing policy they intend to add an amendment to an upcoming Transportation-Treasury Appropriations Bill to prohibit the outsourcing of Amtrak jobs overseas.

Oman Trade Bill Ignores Child Labor Violations

The U.S. House of Representatives could vote as soon as next week on the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA), another flawed trade deal from the Bush administration that will cost the U.S. thousands more quality manufacturing jobs.

Click here to send a message to your representative to vote against this unfair trade deal.

Like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) before it, OFTA will only further encourage more U.S. companies to desert America in search of cheap labor.

Oman lacks basic democratic rights for its citizens and OFTA fails to ensure minimum core labor standards in regards to child labor and foreign “guest workers” providing cheap labor.

After the Senate approved OFTA by a vote of 60-34 less than two weeks ago, House Republicans have wasted no time moving the Oman deal.

Since 2000 the U.S. has lost over three million quality manufacturing jobs due to flawed trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA. Urge your Representative to vote against the Oman Free Trade Agreement and preserve U.S. jobs at home.

IAM Member Appointed to Key City Commission

The Mayor and City Council of Modesto, California appointed 23-year IAM Local 1528 member Joe Rocha to serve on the city’s Equal Opportunity/Disability Commission and Human Rights Commission.

“Congratulations to Joe for his hard work that has been rewarded by this appointment,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “It is a wonderful opportunity for Brother Rocha to reach out and help all people who need a hand. His experience as a leader in his local and his training at Placid Harbor will serve him well.”

Joe has been employed at Silgan Containers and an IAM member since 1982. He has served Local 1528 members as a shop steward, Chief shop steward, negotiating committee member and a member of the Local Lodge Executive Board.  Brother Rocha has attended several classes at the Winpisinger Center and has show tremendous dedication.

“This proves that good things happen to good people.  Joe has worked tirelessly for the people at his site, and Equal Rights issues have always been a passion with him,” said District 190 Business Representative Gilbert Gonzalez. “He will do a great job on this commission. The IAM has one of its own in a position to help a lot people. I really am proud of Joe, and wish him all the best.”

Machinists Talk Pensions With PBGC

Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. and IAM economist Beth Almeida met with Vince Snowbarger, acting Executive Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and Terry Deneen, director of the PBGC’s Insurance Programs, to ensure the channels of communication between the IAM and PBGC stay open following the resignation of former PBGC Executive Director Bradley Belt.

“We discussed the wave of pension terminations in the airline industry, and the IAM’s unique success of negotiating the IAM National Pension Plan as a replacement defined benefit plan for our members, said GVP Roach. “The PBGC acknowledged the IAM National Pension Plan’s conservative strategy is a key to the plan’s success.”