iMail for Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Toyota Campaign in Canada to Continue

Calling the suspension of a scheduled vote a “temporary roadblock,” the IAM informed supporters at the Toyota Canada plant in Cambridge, ON, that it will continue to seek the support needed for a representation election at the automaker. The IAM withdrew its application for a certification vote with the Ontario Labour Relations Board after the company added hundreds of new names to the eligibility list.

“Based on a bargaining unit employee list with over 900 new additional names submitted by Toyota late yesterday to the Board and the IAM, it was clear we didn’t have enough signed membership cards,” said IAM District 140 Organizer Ian Morland on the day before the vote was scheduled.

It is not uncommon for companies opposed to union representation to pad the size of the bargaining unit. If a vote been held without the required 40 percent threshold of support, the application for certification would have been dismissed.

“We want to make sure the ground for certification is ready and right now it isn’t, so the campaign will continue until it is ready,” said Morland. “The workers here approached us for union representation and we intend to honour that request.”

The IAM is an established presence in the Canadian automotive sector, representing thousands of members at assembly and parts manufacturing facilities in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

Spokane School Bus Mechanics Vote ‘IAM Yes’

A group of highly skilled mechanics who keep school buses safe and transit vans rolling in Spokane, Washington, voted by an overwhelming margin recently to join the IAM. The 12 mechanics, employed by First Student Inc., will become the third group of employees at the transit company to secure IAM representation.

The mechanics are seeking a published wage scale in addition to cost of living considerations, a structured training program, written benefits and the ultimate goal of all workers: dignity and respect on the job.

“We have come to the conclusion that to have a voice in our wages, hours and working conditions, we need a legal and binding contract,” said Chris Phillips, a 10-year veteran at the facility. “We came to the Machinists because we heard they are dedicated to working families and will work hard to achieve the very best collective bargaining agreement possible.”

“Congratulations to District 751 President/Directing Business Representative Tom Wroblewski, Business Representative Paul Milliken and Organizing Director Jesse Cote Jr. on their efforts,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “It’s great to see our team, led by Territory Organizing Leader Steve Cooper, working so hard to give these workers a real shot at the American Dream.”

Aloha Returns to Bankruptcy Court

Citing high fuel costs and low-cost competition, Hawaii-based Aloha Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time since 2004. The IAM represents 1,750 Mechanic & Related, Ramp Service, Customer Service, Reservation and Clerical employees at Aloha.

Aloha, which operates about 700 local and mainland flights per week, said that recent jet fuel price increases were the immediate cause of the bankruptcy filing but also cited stiff competition from a new low-cost carrier.

“The IAM will aggressively defend our members in this process,” said District 141 President Randy Canale and District 142 President Tom Higginbotham in response to Aloha Airlines’ bankruptcy filing. “This filing is clearly a direct result of a failed energy policy of the Bush-Cheney administration.”

Following the initial filing, the court granted motions allowing the company to continue operating flights and paying expenses, wages, salaries and benefits while it undergoes Chapter 11 restructuring.

During the previous Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the carrier negotiated cost-cutting agreements with union members who approved pay cuts of 10 percent to 20 percent for two years through 2006, followed by annual pay increases of 4 percent to 5 percent in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In addition, company-sponsored pensions were terminated and employees’ health care premiums were increased, however, IAM members successfully negotiated the IAM National Pension Plan to replace the terminated company plan.

More information about the Aloha Airlines bankruptcy can be found at and

Deadline Nears for 2008 IAM Legislative Conference

This year’s IAM Legislative Conference will be held May 19-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. Delegate registration begins on May 19 at 9:00 a.m. and again on May 20 from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

The conference will kick off on May 19 at 1:30 p.m. with opening remarks by Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, who will serve as permanent chairperson. IP Tom Buffenbarger will deliver the keynote address.

The general session will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon on May 20 and 21. There will be no afternoon sessions scheduled those days so that delegates may lobby on Capitol Hill. Call the hotel at 202-737-1234 to make your room reservations. Cut-off date for reduced room rates is April 11. For a copy of the official call letter, click here.

Passenger Rights Group Seeks IAM Member Support

The Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) was formed by passengers who were stranded on several American Airlines planes for up to 9 hours at Austin International Airport on December 29, 2006. When airlines push aircraft from the gate and park them for hours without sufficient food, water, functioning restrooms or timely information, front-line employees have to deal with the fallout of poor management decisions.

The IAM and the CAPBOR are both alarmed about how potential airline mergers will affect airline employees and passengers, the two groups essential to an airline’s success.

“We believe the IAM is an outstanding organization that fights for workers rights and cares about the well-being of passengers,” said CAPBOR President Kate Hanni. “We ask IAM members to join us in our fight to ensure airline executives treat passengers with dignity and respect at all times. Visit our website,, and sign the petition on our “Get into Action” page to support a Bill of Rights for airline passengers.”

Machinists Mall Open for Business

In the midst of tough financial times for many families, the IAM is giving members a chance to save their hard-earned money by shopping online at the Machinists Mall on

Every time a member completes an online purchase through the Machinists Mall, they’ll earn Rebate Dollars for their purchases. On a quarterly basis, members who have accumulated at least $10 in Rebate Dollars will be converted into a check and mailed to them.

The Machinists Mall offers an extensive selection of retailers for members to choose from, offering a wide range of products including home appliances, clothing and electronics.

Click here to visit the Machinists Mall and start earning your rebate dollars.