iMail for Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Unemployment in Biggest Monthly Spike Since `86

Shrugging off the promised effects of the Bush Administration’s so-called “economic stimulus” program, the U.S. economy stumbled badly in May, with unemployment jumping from 5.0 to 5.5 percent – the biggest monthly rise in more than 20 years. Nervous employers, freshly squeezed by unprecedented energy costs and the deepening credit crisis, cut 50,000 jobs in May, bringing the total number of jobs lost in 2008 to 324,000.

Employers now have cut payrolls for five straight months in manufacturing, construction, retailing, professional and businesses services, leading many economists to conclude the economy is in recession.

The government said the number of unemployed grew by 861,000 in May – rising to 8.5 million. A year ago, the number stood at 6.9 million and the jobless rate was 4.5 percent.

Donna Edwards Hopes to Win Special Election

In a sign of changes that could shake up the U.S. Congress in November, Maryland Democrat Donna Edwards is poised to become the newest member of the House of Representatives following a special election in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District on June 17, 2008.

The election was mandated when Edwards won a Feb. 12 primary vote against 15-year incumbent Congressman Albert Wynn, who promptly resigned rather than complete his term.

Edwards, who is running with strong support from area labor unions, will face Republican Peter James to represent the district that spans Maryland’s populous Prince George and Montgomery counties.

IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart welcomed Edwards to Machinists headquarters in Upper Marlboro, MD, where she spoke with members of the Retirees Club about infrastructure investment, employment opportunities, trade policy, outsourcing and accessibility of public officials.

“This election is an extraordinary opportunity for retirees and working families in the 4th District to elect someone who listens, is accessible and clearly understands our issues,” said Maria Cordone, Director, IAM Community Services/Retirees Department. “We are very much looking forward to working with her in the days ahead.”

Take Action to End U.S. Passport Outsourcing

In the latest outsourcing outrage, the federal government has authorized the outsourcing of United States passport book covers and the RFID electronic security chip to a company in Europe.

Click here to send a message to your elected representative urging them to support HR 5752, legislation to require that the U.S. passport be completely manufactured in the U.S.

The book cover and chip are to be produced in Europe and then shipped to Thailand to have the chip’s antenna added before being shipped to the U.S. Making matters even worse, the company acknowledged last year that the Chinese government had stolen the patent for the chip.

Deadline Extended for Convention Commemorative Book

Every four years, the Convention Commemorative Book provides an historical snapshot of the IAM, its members and the companies where we work. In addition to helping defray the cost of the Convention, the book provides local and district lodges with an opportunity to stand up and be recognized for their service, their history and their identity.

This year, the deadline for ads has been extended to give locals and districts every opportunity to be included in this historic document. Local and district representatives are urged to immediately contact Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative James (Rody) Rodehorst at 316-841-8313 or by email at for additional information about options to design their own ad, or select from a template.

Machinists in Canada Organize Helicopter Techs

It took more than two years but persistence has paid off with the successful certification of 17 workers employed by Hélicraft 2000 Incorporated at St. Hubert airport on the south shore of Montréal.

“We have been pushing hard to organize workers from the helicopter industry in Quebec,” said District 140 Organizer Robert Savoie. “The implementation of a dedicated website, and continual contact with workers across the province over the past two years has finally paid off.” The 17 workers, who perform maintenance on helicopters, consist of certified mechanics, mechanics helpers and stores keepers. All will become the newest members of Local 1751 in Dorval, Quebec.

“The IAM is the aerospace union in Canada and we believe the decision by these employees to join us will have a spill-over effect on other workers in this industry,” added Savoie.

TCU’s Tom Dwyer Elected NARVRE President

Longtime TCU legislative activist Tom Dwyer is now National President of the National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees (NARVRE). Dwyer was elected at NARVRE’s 36th Biennial Convention held May 18-20 in Spokane, WA.

NARVRE was founded in 1937 to protect the rights of railroad retirees. Since then the organization has fought to protect the Railroad Retirement system and promote the best interests of retired Americans. NARVRE has 157 local units in 38 states.

Dwyer, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, is a member of TCU Local 593 in St. Paul. He hired on in 1962 as a clerk on the Great Northern Railroad (today part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe).  Dwyer, who describes himself as a “political activist since the 1960s,” became part of TCU’s regional legislative staff and served from 1981-97 as the union’s Minnesota State Legislative Director.

For NARVRE, Dwyer has held leadership positions in Minneapolis/St. Paul Unit 109 and since 2000 he has served as its National Legislative Director.  Gary Faley, former TCU Michigan state legislative director, now has been appointed to that post.

To find out more about NARVRE, click here.

IAM Salutes 2008 Scholarship Winners

Two dozen IAM members and members’ children will be following their educational dreams thanks to the IAM Scholarships Program. A full list of the winners is posted on the IAM Safety & Health website. The Safety & Health Department administers the popular scholarship program, which was established by IAM Convention delegates in 1960.

The scholarship competition is open each year to IAM members and their children throughout the United States and Canada.  The 2009 Scholarship Competition begins in August 2008 and runs through February 27, 2009. Applications will be accepted for the 2009 Scholarship Competition in August 2008.

Applications for the 2009 Scholarship Competition will be available in August 2008 and can be downloaded and printed from the Safety & Health web page