iMail for Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Machinists Endorse Trumka Team to Lead AFL-CIO

The IAM announced this week it will support Richard Trumka, Liz Shuler and Arlene Holt Baker in their bids to lead the 10-million member AFL-CIO. “Rich Trumka is much more than just the most powerful speaker in the labor movement today,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “He is dedicated to the principal goals of the North American Labor Movement: good jobs, safe workplaces, affordable health care, secure retirements and employee free choice. With Liz Shuler as secretary-treasurer and Arlene Holt Baker as executive vice president, the IAM is confident the AFL-CIO will be more than equal to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

The IAM Executive Council voted unanimously to support the Trumka leadership team following a meeting that included a review of potential candidates and their support for key Machinists’ issues including expanded skills and apprenticeship training, support for a national JOBS Now! program and tighter control of AFL-CIO expenditures.

“The AFL-CIO can be an extremely effective voice for millions of working men and women, and a moral compass for businesses that too often have none,” said Buffenbarger. “It is time for the federation to reassert its rightful place in determining the course of our nation’s history and to restore labor’s political clout and protect the AFL-CIO’s finances. The Trumka, Shuler, Holt Baker team is poised to do exactly that.”

IAM Vows to Continue Fight for F-22 Funding

The IAM today pledged to continue fighting for additional funding for F-22 Raptor aircraft, despite a vote in the U.S. Senate to end production at the 187 jets currently on order.

“This is a critical economic security issue as well as a national security issue,” declared IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “More than 95,000 jobs in 44 states are at risk from the shortsighted decision to terminate this program. Entire communities will suffer grievous economic harm and a critical skill base could be lost forever if this decision is not reversed.”

IAM members build, assemble and maintain F-22 components in dozens of states, including Connecticut, Georgia, California and Texas.

“Ending the F-22 will result in immediate layoffs in the supplier base and begin the costly dismantling of a vital part of our defense industrial base – at a time when our nation is facing the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression and unemployment continues to rise month after month,” said Buffenbarger. 

Making the Case for a Second Stimulus

“With the number of unemployed and involuntarily idled workers nationwide rising above 30.2 million, America’s manufacturing sector is showing signs of ‘economic hypothermia,’” wrote IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, in an editorial published today in the Baltimore Sun. Buffenbarger called for additional stimulus measures, targeted at the critical manufacturing sector.

“To resuscitate this endangered sector, the U.S. government must act, performing recession triage much as an ER team would. The Economic Recovery Act, with its $787 billion mix of spending and tax cuts, was a strong first step. But even President Barack Obama recently acknowledged that it has not yet produced nearly enough jobs,” wrote Buffenbarger.

While some economists argue against a government role in rebuilding the manufacturing sector, others clearly see the potential benefits of such an investment.

“Rebuilding manufacturing offers one of our best options for recovering from the current recession,” says senior economist Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute, “because it will create good jobs for millions of Americans who now languish on unemployment.”

Among the specific steps proposed by Buffenbarger were two investment tax credits to spur modernization of existing manufacturing facilities: a 10 percent credit for the rehabilitation and renovation of existing manufacturing facilities and an additional credit for new equipment. If those tax credits could be banked to offset downstream profits, and given a two-year-sunset provision, it would spur a burst of investment and create millions of new jobs.

In addition to tax credits, Buffenbarger called for expanded opportunities for laid off workers to upgrade their skills and loans for smaller manufacturers to produce and stockpile 60 days worth of inventory for when demand picks up.

“And at all levels, we need governments to expedite orders on everything from ships to snow plows, and to encourage people to ‘Buy North American.’ That’s not a protectionist slogan – it’s a realistic solution,” said Buffenbarger. “Some, of course, will argue that we can’t afford a second stimulus. But given the fact that economic hypothermia could be fatal to manufacturing, what we really can’t afford to do is nothing.”

Air Canada Machinists Ratify New Agreement

IAM members at Air Canada, a group that includes more than 12,300 technical, maintenance and operational support workers, have ratified a new agreement with the troubled carrier.

The agreement includes a 21-month past service funding deferral on the pension plan, clarification on work out-sourcing issues and as well as other non-monetary improvements. The defined benefit pension plan remains unchanged and protected. All of this was accomplished without any concessions.

“The majority of the membership has spoken in favor of this agreement so we can now move forward knowing our pensions, our contract, our benefits and our jobs are protected for the next 21 months,” said District 140 President and Directing General Chairperson Chuck Atkinson.

New WWW Program Trains Metal/Atomic Trades Councils

Enroll now for a new program at the William W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Center at Placid Harbor to be held September 13-18, 2009. The new program will address the unique needs of IAM officers, activists and staff whose District or Local Lodge is affiliated with a Metal/Atomic Trades Council and enhance the skills necessary to lead a Metal/Atomic Trades Council.

The program will cover a number of topics that IAM officers, activists and staff can use to enhance and strengthen the role the IAM plays in a Metal/Atomic Trades Council including the following topics: Decision Making, Strategic Planning, Leadership Psychology and Communications. Additionally, Jurisdictional Dispute Resolution and MTC/MTD Bylaws will be addressed.

Click here for the course enrollment form. Please call Pam Kinney at (301) 373-3300 if you have questions about the enrollment/registration process. Completed enrollment forms must be returned by August 14, 2009.

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