iMail for Tuesday, March 18, 2008

IAM Survey: Voters Support Tech Training

The Machinists Union has released results of a national survey that found widespread support among likely voters for two years of tuition-free, post-secondary education for every qualified American.

The survey, which is available here, was conducted for the IAM by Fingerhut Granados Opinion Research and examined voter attitudes about vocational education and the level of interest in a national tuition program similar to the GI Bill.

“Persons of every income, education and political affiliation would all support a national education policy that included two years of tuition-free education for qualified Americans,” said Vic Fingerhut. “They rightly view this type of education policy as critical for the U.S. to compete successfully in today’s skills-based global marketplace.”

According to the survey, 97 percent of respondents agreed that it was very important or somewhat important to increase the level of training and skills development. Surprisingly, the combined figure is greater than the importance given to assuring affordable health care, keeping mortgage rates down and increasing the minimum wage.

By an overwhelming six to one margin, respondents indicated they would be more likely to support a candidate who supported two years of tuition-free post secondary education, either at a community college, vocational or high-tech institute or apprentice program.

“This issue has the potential to resonate for any candidate that embraces it,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger.

Pratt & Whitney AutoAir Members Sign New Accord

Members at Local 2184 in Lansing, MI have voted overwhelming to ratify a new three- year contract with Pratt & Whitney AutoAir. The agreement guarantees wage increases of 3.5 percent in the first two years and a 3.25 percent increase in the third year, as well as a $2,500 signing bonus.

Other improvements for the more than 170 members include increases in pension contributions to the IAM National Pension Plan over the life of the agreement and the removal of two-tier language.

“The bargaining committee stood strong through a long and difficult negotiating process,” said IAM Eastern GVP Lynn Tucker. “This agreement and the ratification results are proof of that. “Our thanks to IAM Aerospace Coordinator Frank Santos for his assistance in these negotiations, and congratulations to District 60 Business Representative Stacey Arnold and the entire bargaining committee.”

Canadian Machinists Tame the Antarctic

Members of IAM Local 2583 from Field Aviation in Calgary, Canada who have been mastering the weather of Antarctica for a British survey team since late October 2007 recently returned home to Calgary.

Ragner Olafson, an avionics technician, leads a group of four aviation mechanics from Field who have been providing technical support for the survey’s four De Havilland Twin Otters and single De Havilland Dash 7 aircraft.

The job requires the Machinists to go wherever the aircraft takes them, which could have them away from their base for weeks at a time.

Los Angeles Mechanics Say ‘IAM Yes’

Workers employed by Johnson Controls who maintain and service the vehicles for the Los Angeles County fleet services are the latest to say “yes” to IAM membership. These 42 new members are the mechanics who keep the fleet of automobiles, trucks and tractors moving.

A main concern for the workers was job security and a successor clause. Should the company lose the contract with the county, the mechanics wanted an IAM contract to ensure that their wages and benefits would still be in force with a new contractor.

One of the big challenges in the campaign was the logistics of the site locations, which number six in all and range from 20 to over 100 miles apart from each other. But logistics wasn’t the only obstacle.

“The company had their union buster moving from site to site holding meetings with the employees to create doubt and confusion in the work force,” said Organizing Department GLR Macario Camorlinga, who headed up the campaign. “They gave it their best effort, but the vote was in favor of the IAM 20 to 19.”

Having just voted on their Negotiating Committee members, mechanics at Johnson Controls are now looking forward to getting their first contract.

“Communication won the day in this campaign,” said Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski. “Our organizing team held meetings in Spanish and English so the workers would be comfortable in understanding exactly what was being explained to them. It was great teamwork by GLR Camorlinga, Apprentice Organizer Larry Olinger and District 947 Organizer Felix Osuna.”

Machinists File Unfair Labour Practice Charges Against Toyota Canada

With 3,100 workers at the Toyota Canada assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario set to vote March 20 on IAM representation, the IAM yesterday filed unfair labour practice charges against the company with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

“We’re taking this step to protect the rights of Toyota employees to a free and democratic vote in which they will be able to express their true wishes without intimidation,” said IAM District 140 Organizer Ian Morland.

The application alleges that certain of Toyota’s recent communications with employees have crossed the line set by the law, which prevents employers from intimidating and unduly influencing employees to vote against a union in a certification vote. The IAM is also addressing Toyota’s attempt to have the Ontario Labour Relations Board depart from standard voting arrangements that have been designed over the years to facilitate a free and democratic vote.

“It’s clear by their recent actions that Toyota is afraid of a free and democratic vote and afraid to give their employees a proper opportunity to express their wish to be represented by the Machinists Union,” concluded Morland.

The IAM represents thousands of members in the Canadian automotive transportation sector at assembly and parts manufacturing facilities in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

Deadline Nears for Advanced Web and Advanced Editors Classes

The enrollment deadline is fast-approaching for the Communications Department’s Advanced Web and Advanced Editors classes held at the IAM William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center.

Registration Forms for the courses, both scheduled for June 1-6, 2008, must be received by Friday, March 21.

The Advanced Web class is geared for IAM lodges currently operating websites and whose Web Stewards have attended the Basic and Intermediate Web classes. Advanced Editors is for experienced local and district lodge newsletter editors, web stewards or Communicators who have a strong record of producing newsletters, materials and information for their lodges.

Click here to download the official calls outlining class requirements and Registration Forms.

Completed Forms should be faxed to the Communications Department at 301-967-4586.