iMail for Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wisconsin Governor to Join Mercury Marine Negotiations

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said today that he will be actively involved in negotiations aimed at preserving thousands of jobs at Mercury Marine’s Fond du Lac facility.

“We all need to be focused on an outcome that continues to provide family-supporting jobs for hundreds of workers in Fond du Lac and that allows Mercury Marine to continue its market leadership from its headquarters in Wisconsin,” said Doyle in a statement reported in the Milwaukee Business Journal. “I will continue to be engaged and, as appropriate, directly involved as these negotiations continue to occur.”

The IAM requested Doyle’s presence following last week’s announcement by Mercury Marine that the company was considering shifting operations from Fond du Lac, WI, to Stillwater, OK, a move that would eliminate as many as 2,000 local jobs and devastate the surrounding economy.

Machinists union members of Local 1947 in Fond du Lac recently ratified a four-year agreement with Mercury Marine that included a provision permitting the contract to be modified in the event of extreme circumstances. Proposals received from Mercury Marine this week would essentially eliminate nearly all economic and non-economic language in the collective bargaining agreement, except the provisions pertaining to management rights.

Governor Doyle said the state has offered an aggressive package to help Mercury Marine maintain its market leadership and operate efficiently, however, he indicated Mercury Marine must keep these jobs in Wisconsin to access these incentives.

Tennessee County with 27 Percent Unemployed Gets Lifeline

Taking inspiration from a Depression-era program that put millions of people to work in the 1930’s, one Tennessee county is using federal stimulus money to rescue a local economy where unemployment topped 27 percent.

As told in a recent New York Times profile, Tennessee state officials employed a New Deal model of putting people directly to work as quickly as possible, rather than waiting for big projects or for tax cuts to trickle through the economy.

The state plans to use $3 to $5 million from the federal stimulus package to subsidize 300 new jobs with employers that range from the state Transportation Department to the milkshake place near the high school.

The effort is already showing results; the June unemployment rate, which does not yet include all the new jobs, dropped from above 25 percent to 22.1 percent.

Machinists Seek Merger Status Meeting with Delta

The IAM this week sent a letter to Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson calling for a meeting to discuss issues stemming from Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines.

“We are in the process of evaluating the progress of Delta’s and Northwest’s integration, specifically as that integration impacts the crafts and classes of employees represented by the IAM at Northwest,” said the letter by Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., who cited proper composition of combined class and craft designations as one of the key matters to be discussed at the meeting.

“I feel strongly that such discussion will also serve to ensure a smoother election process for all parties,” said Roach. “In past mergers which impacted IAM represented employees, we have found such discussions to be very helpful in determining the stage at which a carrier will become a single transportation system under the Act.”

Despite previous unsuccessful attempts to schedule meetings with Anderson, Roach stressed that such a meeting is very important to move this process to the next level. Members of the National Mediation Board were also sent copies of the letter.

Passports Needed for Upcoming Communications Conference

The 2009 IAM Communications Conference will be held September 27-30 at The Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, British Columbia. As passports are now required for travel between the United States and Canada, U.S. members planning to attend need to act quickly to obtain their passport, as the process can take several weeks to several months.

Hotel reservations can be made by calling The Westin directly at 604-682-3377. The cut-off date is August 26, 2009 for the special group room rate.

The 2009 Conference features a full agenda of prominent speakers, workshops to enhance communications skills and the presentation of awards to winners of the popular IAM Newsletter and Website Contest, as well as the George J. Kourpias and Robert J. Kalaski awards which honor special achievements in labor journalism.

Click here for the Conference call and enrollment application, or call the Communications Department at 301-967-4520. Passport applications are processed by the U.S. State Department. For needed information, instructions and an application form, go to their website by clicking here.

Unions Promote Conservation in Climate Change Legislation

The IAM joined with a diverse group of U.S. labor unions today calling on leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to dedicate funding to safeguard fish, wildlife and ecosystems in climate change legislation being deliberated by Congress.

The 20 unions, all partners of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, stress that a share of annual funding, no less than that contained in the House version of the bill should be directed toward protecting and restoring the natural environment.

“We know that more than 3.2 million AFL-CIO union members spend some of their well-deserved free time hunting and fishing and that climate change has the power to change that,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka. “Responsive measures in the Senate legislation will help prevent drastic declines in hunting and fishing opportunities caused by climate change and better secure the $70 billion conservation dollars generated by hunters and anglers each year.”

Click here to read the letter and see a complete list of union signatories.