iMail for Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Machinists Reach Tentative Pact with Freight Carriers

The IAM announced a tentative agreement with the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) for a contract covering 7,800 railroad machinists.

“The negotiators worked hard at the bargaining table,” said IAM GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Our members will now have their chance to review and vote on the agreement.”

The IAM negotiated as part of a union coalition representing more than 36,000 workers. Members of the coalition, which included the Transportation Communications Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Transport Workers Union will ratify the agreement independently. The NCCC represents major U.S. freight rail carriers, including Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

The IAM Negotiating Committee recommended ratification of the tentative agreement.

Negotiations began in November 2004 for agreements that became amendable on January 1, 2005. The tentative agreements cover four major crafts – Machinists, Carmen, Clerks and Electricians.

Details of the new agreements will be released after they are sent to members for review. Ratification voting is expected to be completed by mid-September 2007.

Fallen Firefighters Honored with Donations

Thanks to the generosity of NFFE-IAM members around the country, the families of the two NFFE-IAM members who died battling a fire in the San Bernardino National Forest last October were recently presented with checks on behalf of the union.

Engine Operator Jess McLean, 27, and Assistant Engine Operator Jason McKay, 27, lost their lives fighting the Esperanza wildfire on October 26, 2006.  Upon their deaths, the IAM Fallen Firefighters Fund was established to collect donations for the surviving family members of McLean and McKay, members of NFFE-IAM Federal Local 1558.  During the months since the fund’s inception, NFFE-IAM members donated enough to present each man’s family with a check for $17,500.

“The IAM and NFFE are one family and we will never forget what these men did,” said GVP Rich Michalski, who traveled to San Bernardino, CA, to take part in the remembrance. “Their sacrifice is a tribute to firefighters everywhere who risk everything to protect us from danger and harm. To their families we offer our prayers, our thoughts and our eternal gratitude.”

Michalski was among several NFFE and IAM representatives who took part in the presentation ceremony, including NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 President and DBR Richard N. Brown, NFFE Forest Service Council President Ron Thatcher, IAM Community Services and Retirees Department Director Maria Cordone, Forest Service Council Region 5 Vice President Dan Duefrene and NFFE-IAM Federal Local 1558 Secretary-Treasurer Eric Sweetman.  Also present was Deputy Forest Supervisor Max Copenhagen.

“While this money can in no way make up for the loss of their loved ones, I hope the families of Brothers McLean and McKay found some comfort in this showing of solidarity and the support of our members,” said Brown.  

A brick inscribed with each firefighter’s name will become a part of the Workers’ Memorial at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Center in Maryland.        

Help Move Amtrak Negotiations Back on Track

The IAM opened contract negotiations with Amtrak in December, 1999.  After eight years, more than 15,000 IAM and other unionized workers have not received a new contract or a general wage increase. In fact, Amtrak has refused to make a single change to the initial proposals it made eight years ago.

While our members continue to keep Amtrak running, the rail carrier has shown absolutely no willingness to bargain in good faith. The National Mediation Board (NMB), which is supposed to be a neutral government agency obligated is to help foster an agreement, has shown no interest in resolving the dispute.

All IAM members are asked to contact  Congress and urge their intervention in the dispute by forcing the National Mediation Board to acknowledging negotiations are at an obvious impasse. When the NMB declares an impasse, mediated negotiations would end and the negotiations process under the Railway Labor Act would move forward.

Strike Looms at Jacobs Technology in New Mexico

Members of Local 2515 who are employed as technicians at Jacobs Technology Inc., in Las Cruces, NM, voted to reject a contract proposal from the company, and authorized a strike the facility. The strike could begin on July 24, following a required five-day notice.

“We have been negotiating with Jacobs for a while, and thought we were going to get a good contract,” said Local 2515 DBR Bud Duryea. “We had signed a tentative agreement, and the company decided to go back on their word at the last minute. We are extremely disappointed that they took this approach and forced this membership to take this action.”

The 143 workers, who are responsible for testing the thrusters for the Space Shuttle at Johnson Space Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico, rejected the proposal due to dissatisfaction over wage increases, pensions, and cost-of-living.

“We are preparing to file unfair labor practice charges (ULP’s) against Jacobs,” said Ron Eldridge, IAM Aerospace Coordinator. “It is difficult to bargain in good faith when the other side doesn’t feel the need to honor what they agree to. We just negotiated a good contract with Jacobs’ counterpart on this program, Enterprise Advisory Services Incorporated (EASI). We didn’t have this sort of problem at EASI, and we didn’t expect it here; this membership is disappointed and angry at being misled.”

Babineaux Named ‘Keeper of the Flame’

IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux was honored with the Benjamin L. Hooks “Keeper of the Flame Award” for her outstanding leadership and contributions to racial equality and fairness. The award was presented during the 98th Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held last week in Detroit, MI.

“The NAACP has led the way in the fight for civil rights since it was founded,” said Babineaux, who called civil rights and labor two movements with one goal. “I am so very proud to be a part of this organization and I’m honored and grateful for this award.”

The convention agenda included NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, who blasted the Bush Administration’s failure to advance the cause of human rights in America. The convention also hosted a Presidential candidates’ forum where all announced candidates were invited to participate. While all Democratic candidates attended, only one Republican took part. A highlight of the convention was the mock burial of the “N” word. A horse-drawn carriage pulled a pine casket as thousands marched from Cobo Center to the funeral site at Hart Plaza on the city’s waterfront to bury forever the disparaging, hateful term historically used to degrade African Americans. “This is the first funeral I have been to where people were happy to be here,” Chairman Bond said. “The entity in this casket deserves to be dead.”

Winpisinger Center Welcomes New Instructor

Anne Walsh brings a long history of helping union members to her newest position as an instructor at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center. A key member of the IAM Organizing Department since 2004, first as an Apprentice Organizer and then as a Special Representative, Walsh also speaks fluent Spanish.

As a member of Local 66 in Milwaukee, WI, she assisted laid-off workers as an Employment and Training Specialist working for the AFL-CIO Labor Education and Training Center. Walsh graduated from Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies.

“We’re delighted that Anne has agreed to come on staff here at the Winpisinger Center,” said Director Chris Wagoner. “Her knowledge and experience will be invaluable.”

In addition to her work with the IAM, Walsh has lived in the Dominican Republic and spent a year on the Coordinating Committee of Voces de la Frontera, an Immigrant Workers Center on Milwaukee’s South Side. She also participated in the Labor in the Pulpits program from 2002 to