iMail for Tuesday June 13, 2006

Solidarity on Display in Louisiana

Members of Local 470 in Lake Charles, LA entered their third week on strike against PPG Industries with a multi-union rally, kicking off a week of activities to demonstrate community support and union solidarity in their fight for a fair contract.

“The other unions are out here supporting their brothers and sisters who are walking the picket line,” IAM Business Representative Terry Taylor told KPLC TV News. “They know the fight that we have today, could be the fight they have tomorrow.”

“Every time we go to the bargaining table we are all fighting for the same thing: better benefits, keep our health benefits and keep our wages,” said Katherine Hay, president of Communication Workers of America Local 3407.

“We are a family of union workers showing our solidarity and that what happens to one will happen to the other,” said Claude Syas, president of United Steelworkers Local 13-55.

PPG management is demanding unfair changes in wages, health care and pension benefits, including a two-tier, hire-in wage rate which would leave new hires without retiree medical benefits or a defined-benefit pension plan, even though the industrial chemical maker has had twelve quarters of record profits.

New Pact Approved at Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines Equipment Service & Stock Clerk (ESSC) members accepted the terms of an agreement reached with the bankrupt airline on May 19, 2006. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper had threatened to rule on Northwest’s motion to abrogate the ESSC contract on June 14, 2006 if the agreement was not ratified.

The ESSC membership joins IAM-represented Plant Protection (PP) and Clerical, Office Fleet and Passenger Service (COFPS) with ratified agreements with Northwest. Forty Flight Simulator Technicians & Simulator Support Specialists are the only remaining IAM group without a modified agreement, but the airline has not moved to abrogate their agreement at this time and negotiations with the carrier are ongoing.

The agreement will not become effective until Northwest Airlines has concessions in place, either ratified or imposed with court approval, with all the unions at the airline.

Local 898 Ratifies New Contract at Vance AFB

IAM members at Local 898 at Vance Air Force Base near Enid, OK ratified a new three-year agreement. The members work for Computer Sciences Corporation and Trend Western, two of the bases’ primary contractors. CSC and Trend Western employees do a variety of jobs at Vance, from groundskeeping to aircraft maintenance.

“Our members won a good contract with some increases in wages, pensions and some of the benefits,” said District 171 President and DBR Jerry McCune. “We got enough that we believe it is a good, livable contract. We’re looking forward to three years of stability at the base, working on planes and making pilots.”

“Congratulations to the negotiating committee and members of Local 898 for doing the hard work it takes to secure a strong contract,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Bob Martinez . “The workers at Vance provide a strong economic base for the entire area. It’s good news for everyone in Enid.”

DeLay Exit Revives Sweatshop Reform Bill

Last week’s departure of former GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay may be good news for workers in sweatshops in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

Democratic Congressman George Miller (D-CA) has reintroduced legislation to extend U.S. labor laws to the Commonwealth. For years, DeLay personally blocked any effort to close legal loopholes that allow Chinese owners to operate sweatshop garment factories in the tiny Pacific island nation and put the “Made in USA” label on goods produced there. Even though news reports showed Chinese immigrant workers were subjected to forced abortions and horrid working conditions, DeLay, in concert with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who worked for the Commonwealth, derailed reform efforts that had majority support in Congress.

“Given the chance to do it all again, there’s only one thing I’d change. I’d fight even harder,” DeLay said in a bitter farewell speech to Congress last week. DeLay turned his House Leadership post into an influence peddling machine unrivaled in House history. DeLay called Jack Abramoff “one of my closest and dearest friends. Delay’s former communications director Michael Scanlon plead guilty to bribery charges stemming from his work with Abramoff. Tony Rudy admitted to taking bribes while working as DeLay’s chief of staff. Edwin Buckham, a former DeLay chief of staff, is identified in court papers as “Lobbyist B” for steering money to Rudy and putting DeLay’s wife on his payroll. And Susan Hirschmann, another DeLay chief of staff, topped a list of congressional staffers accepting free trips, racking up $84,000-worth in 26 months.

Union Plus Scholarship Winner

IAM members aren’t the only winners in the 2006 Union Plus Scholarship Award Competition. Sarah E. Strole, daughter of 17-year IAM District 160 and District 751 employee Barbara L. Strole of Spokane, WA, a member of OPEIU Local 8, received a $2,000 Union Plus Scholarship award. Strole joins six IAM members and is among 108 students from 44 unions who received a total of $150,000 in scholarships from the Union Plus Scholarship program.

Strole volunteers for a number of community service organizations, works 20 hours a week and managed to win a large number of academic honors.

Applications for next year’s awards will be available in September 2006. To download the application at that time, visit www.UnionPlus.org/Scholarships.
 

Official Call for 2006 Retirees Conference

The Community Services and Retirees Department has mailed all local and district lodges the official call for the Fourth International IAM Retirees Conference. It will convene on Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas, NV and conclude on Thursday, November 16 th.

There is a $10 registration fee for IAM members to help defray the cost of speakers and accommodations at the conference. Participants will be responsible for their expenses for this conference. There is, however, a special room rate of $89.00 plus tax per night for single or double occupancy. Call Bally’s at 1-800-634-3434 and request the group rate for the Machinists Retirees’ Conference. This cutoff date for the special rate is October 12, 2006.

This year’s IAM Retirees Conference agenda include an analysis of the new Congress and ways to advance the senior agenda, the now traditional fireside chat, intergenerational events, discussions on labor history and other interesting subjects. The conference is a great opportunity to learn about current issues and interact with your brother and sister retirees from across North America.

“Our Retirees Conference keeps getting bigger and more popular,” said Community Services and Retirees Dept. Director Maria Cordone. “Our retirees are proof that you can retire from your job, but you never retire from the union.” For more information, contact the Community Services and Retirees Department at 301- 967-3433.