iMail for Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Trotter Tapped to Lead IAM Legislative Dept.

A seasoned and steady hand will be at the wheel of the IAM’s Legislative and Political Action Department when Assistant Legislative Director Tom Trotter takes over as director from outgoing Legislative Director Rich Michalski on June 1.

“Tom Trotter’s experience, political insights and work ethic are a matter of record and beyond reproach,” said IP Buffenbarger after announcing the appointment at the MNPL Planning Conference in San Diego, California. “I’m confident he will do a superb job for this union and its members in the years ahead.”

An Illinois native and former Northwest Airlines aircraft mechanic, Trotter joined the IAM in 1985 as a member of Local 1833 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Active in political affairs from the start, he served on the local’s legislative committee from 1985 to 1992, when he became Legislative Director for District 143. In 1997, Tom was named Assistant Legislative Director at IAM headquarters, working state capitols and the halls of Congress on behalf of IAM members and their families.

“I’m honored and excited to be able to represent our members in this new capacity,” said Trotter. “The IAM has always had a strong presence in the political and legislative arena, and I plan to continue that tradition.”


Virginia GOP in Full McCarthy Mode

By a vote of 55 to 42, Republicans in Virginia’s House of Representatives revived the specter of McCarthyism when they rejected newly-elected Gov. Tim Kaine’s choice of former AFL-CIO state director Daniel G. LeBlanc to be secretary of the commonwealth. The business-backed GOP pointed to LeBlanc’s union membership and long-standing opposition to “right to work” labor laws as reasons for blackballing the nominee.

Kaine vowed to keep LeBlanc as a powerful informal advisor and promised retaliation for the cowardly and highly political vote. The move “shows just how much these leaders fear the power of Virginia’s working men and women,” said James R. Leaman, President of the Virginia AFL-CIO. “Their decision is tantamount to saying that there’s no real place at the table for the working men and women of Virginia.”

The vote marked the first time lawmakers in Virginia blocked a governor’s choice for a Cabinet secretary since the system was put in place in 1970.


Southern Territory Gains Air Base Members

Employees of L-3 Vertex Communications at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida will join the IAM after voting 22 to 8, in favor of IAM representation.

The highly skilled employees maintain the aircraft of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The workers realized the importance of an IAM contract after reviewing IAM contracts won by members in Tucson, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Elsewhere in the Southern Territory, 18 civil engineering workers employed by CSP, LLC at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, recently voted for the IAM as their representatives. They join other Tinker members in Local 850. The IAM has been adding units on the base regularly for some time.

“We have a great reputation in the South for our service contract work,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “Our strong contracts help workers realize how important union representation is. As a result, our presence in the service contract arena continues to grow. I’d like to thank Grand Lodge Organizer Ray Moffat and District 171 Business Representative Tony Bennett and their committees for all their hard work.”


Bloggers Flogging for Wal-Mart

With their public image in tatters, Wal-Mart is now enlisting bloggers to assist in their public relations campaign, according to a recent New York Times article.

The article says Wal-Mart is promoting favorable blogs by suggesting topics for postings and inviting bloggers to a media conference at their corporate headquarters in Arkansas.

While bloggers are free to express whatever opinion they may have, some are posting information they receive from Wal-Mart word-for-word without acknowledging its source.

Wal-Mart, whose substandard treatment of their workers continues to garner increased scrutiny, acknowledged their effort to work with bloggers in an attempt to improve their crumbling public image.


NLRB Backs IAM in Foster Farms Dispute

The National Labor Relations Board filed a petition asking the federal district court to stop Foster Farms in Livingston, California from engaging in unfair labor practices outlined in multiple charges filed by the IAM.

Following a review of charges filed by the IAM, the board found sufficient evidence to support the IAM position. The Board also concluded that any delay would allow the company to continue their unlawful conduct and asked the court for a hearing on March 22, 2006, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Problems began at Foster Farms when workers there voted to affiliate with the IAM. The company immediately began trying to fight the affiliation and withdrew recognition and charged that the affiliation was not conducted appropriately. The NLRB disagreed, ruling that the affiliation was conducted with adequate due process, and that the company is obligated to bargain in good faith with the union.

“It is a shame that these workers have had to go through such an ordeal in order to exercise their rights,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “They tried to negotiate with this company, and were stonewalled. This ruling confirms that the IAM has followed the rules, and that Foster Farms will ultimately have to recognize the wishes of their employees. We will not give up until we deliver a good contract to them.”


China Trade Gap Fuels Record $68 Billion Deficit

The U.S. trade deficit jumped to a record $68.5 billion in January, the Commerce Department reported last week. January’s record trade gap comes on the heels of last years record $723.6 billion trade deficit, increasing calls for crackdowns on unfair trade practices by countries such as China.

Following a record trade deficit of over $200 billion dollars with China in 2005, the trade gap with China increased 9.9 percent to $17.9 percent in January. China’s unfair trade practices, such as currency manipulation and exploitation of cheap labor, have been a continuing source of economic tension with the U.S.

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