iMail for Tuesday, June 16, 2009(1)

Negotiations to Resume with Vance Contractors

Contract negotiations between IAM Local 898 and contractors at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK, are set to resume following a public invitation by the union for company representatives to return to the bargaining table.

“The IAM stands ready, as we have from the last day of negotiations, to resolve the issues of the strike with CSC at Vance Air Force Base and to return our members to work as soon as a new agreement is ratified,” said District 171 Directing Business Rep. Jerry McCune. “The issues remain clear and should, and can be, resolved quickly, if the company is prepared and committed to resolve the issues at the heart of this dispute.”

Members of Local 898 voted overwhelmingly to strike CSC Applied Technologies and three sub-contractors at Vance following a company proposal that gutted seniority protection and increased members’ health care costs.

The Local 898 Negotiating Committee rejected an offer by the company earlier this week to extend the expired collective bargaining agreement if employees would return to work.

“The Air Force does not need a workforce concerned about unresolved issues with their employer, and the possibility of a further work stoppage at the end of any ‘contract extension,’” explained McCune. “They need a stable work force for the long term and a contract in place that’s good for the Air Force, the company, the workers and the citizens of Enid, OK.”


Alliance Honors Kourpias for Service

Delegates at the Alliance for Retired Americans Legislative Conference honored former ARA President George Kourpias for his outstanding service and lifelong career fighting for North America’s working families. Kourpias was the first president of the Alliance for Retired Americans after serving as international president of the IAM from 1989 to through 1997. Kourpias was instrumental in building the ARA into a formidable political force on behalf of the retirees across America.

“George Kourpias brought to the Alliance for Retired Americans the same passion of fighting for working families he had as president of the Machinists union,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “His dedication and untiring efforts to mobilize retirees have put the Alliance in a strong position to help win meaningful health care reform, protect pensions and make sure our nation’s workers aren’t shortchanged after a lifetime of work.”

Kourpias was honored with the Alliance’s President’s Award and will be president emeritus of the organization. “The Alliance is so important to the labor movement and to community-based groups in America,” said Kourpias. “We have to go out and continue to build and organize clubs and always be there to protect our Social Security and our Medicare and help the labor movement in these difficult economic times.”


Bad Economy No Excuse to Delay Health Care Reform

More than 300 health care experts and economists have signed a petition calling for the federal government to take “bold” action in crafting universal health care coverage. They argue a bad economy is no excuse for delay.

“A lot of people are saying that given the dire economic straits in which we find ourselves, we can’t afford to undertake health care reform,” says economist Jonathan Gruber. “That’s exactly backwards. In fact, given the dire economic straits in which we find ourselves, now is exactly the time that we have to act to reform health care in the U.S.”

Gruber says providing universal coverage will free families up to spend money on other goods and services, and free employers up to hire more people and offer workers higher wages.

In addition, University of California-Berkeley health experts Jacob Hacker, Ken Jacobs, and Phillip Cryan released two reports detailing the merits of a “play-or-pay” policy. The provision would require all employers to offer health care coverage to their workers or pay a “modest” payroll tax that would go towards a public insurance pool.

The researchers argue inclusion of a “play-or-pay” policy in President Obama’s overall health care plan would yield results “both positive and very large.” The reports detail the creation of new jobs in the health care sector, increased worker productivity, efficiency gains in the labor market, employer savings, and systemwide savings from reduced costs.


Passport Reminder for Communications Conference

IAM members in the United States should make sure they have a current and valid U.S. passport if they are planning to attend the 2009 Communications Conference set for Sept. 27 – 30, 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Passports are now required for travel between the U.S. and Canada.

The Communications Conference will be held at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver and reservations can be made by calling 604-682-3377. The cutoff date for the special group room rate is August 26, 2009.

Click here  for the official call and enrollment application or call the Communications Department at 301-967-4520.

Passport applications are processed by the U.S. State Department and can take from several weeks to several months to process. Additional information, instructions and a passport application form are available at: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.


Pennsylvania Ten Pin Tournament Benefits GDA

The Pennsylvania State Council of Machinists held a charity bowling tournament during their 63rd annual convention in York, PA, that raised more than $3,600 for Guide Dogs of America (GDA).

Organizers of the bowling tournament cited the large number of golf tournament fundraisers and hoped to give non-golfers an opportunity to participate and contribute to the IAM’s favorite charity. In addition to golf tournaments, IAM members regularly organize car shows, motorcycle runs and raffles to support the work of GDA.

Founded by an IAM member in 1948, Guide Dogs of America selects, raises and trains puppies for use in the program as well as provide a specially designed harness, individualized in-residence training and lifetime follow-up, at no cost, to blind recipients.

State Council President Obie O’Brien and Secretary-Treasurer John McLaughlin dedicated the convention to the memory of recently deceased District 98 DBR Tom Boger, and presented Boger’s wife Linda and three daughters with a plaque honoring his years of servic