iMail for Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Maytag Veteran Calls on Congress to Fix Trade Agreements

Former IAM Local Lodge 2063 President Dave Bevard testified  before Congress today, speaking about the shortcomings of Trade Adjustment Assistance and the need for fair trade agreements.

Bevard worked at Maytag Refrigeration Products in Galesburg, Illinois for 32 years when, on October 11, 2002, the company told him and more than 1,500 of his fellow IAM members, including Bevard’s wife Pat, that Maytag was closing their plant and moving production to Mexico.

Workers at the Maytag facility qualified for Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits, but many found they trained for jobs that weren’t available or didn’t replace the income and benefits they lost. “Trade Adjustment Assistance and other programs are no substitute for fair trade agreements,” said Bevard. “Bad trade policies are devastating our manufacturing industry and are hurting millions of workers. We must have fair trade agreements and ways to create and keep good jobs so that we can keep our middle class which is the bedrock of our democracy.”

Bevard also told lawmakers there are many improvements that could be made to help workers get more out of Trade Adjustment Assistance. Bevard called for increased funding, improved financial counselling and more affordable health care.

Congress is currently debating whether to extend President Bush’s Fast Track Trade Authority which will make more unfair trade agreements possible.

Vancouver, BC Members Protest Air Canada Layoffs

Undaunted by the rain, members of IAM Local 764 employed by Air Canada were joined by hundreds of other unionized airport workers in a mass solidarity demonstration at Vancouver International Airport Saturday to protest the layoffs of over 860 heavy maintenance jobs by Air Canada.

In mid-March, Air Canada announced the permanent layoffs of 700 IAM members from its Vancouver maintenance facility and the temporary layoffs of another 161 members following the termination of a maintenance contract with Delta Airlines. Atlanta-based Delta signed a five-year deal two years ago with Air Canada Technical Services (ACTS) for the heavy maintenance of its wide-body Boeing 767 jets. Delta is terminating the contract early and transferring the work offshore to El Salvador and China.

Members are angered with Air Canada’s failure to even try to seek new work for the Vancouver facility. Demonstrators called for government intervention to stop the export of these highly-skilled and well-paying jobs to overseas maintenance facilities.

“The maintenance of modern transport aircraft is a labor-intensive and technically-challenging industry that must not be controlled solely by the narrow profit motives of corporations like Air Canada,” said Jim Coller, IAM District 140 President and Directing General Chairperson.

“When they needed to survive bankruptcy in 2004, management didn’t hesitate to ask for our help,” said IAM Local 764 President Tania Canniff. “Now when it’s time to return the favor, management wouldn’t lift a finger to help us by replacing the work they lost.”

Senate to Start Hearings on Employee Free Choice Act

The U.S. Senate will begin holding hearings this week on the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would directly benefit this country’s working families.

The Employee Free Choice Act, which the House passed earlier this month by a vote of 241-185, would enable workers to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by strengthening their rights to form unions.

Send a message  to your Senators urging them to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Tom Wroblewski New District 751 President

District 751 in Seattle, WA has a new president. Tom Wroblewski was elected to lead the more than 20,000 Puget Sound area members as of April 1, replacing Mark Blondin, who accepted a position with the Grand Lodge to serve as Aerospace Coordinator.

Wroblewski joined the IAM in 1976, and served the last 14 years as a District 751 business representative and grievance coordinator.

“I want to unite the membership to ensure we have a strong bargaining position for upcoming negotiations and hope to get more members involved in our Union,” said Wroblewski. “We have many issues ahead of us and by working together, we will continue to have the best contracts in the aerospace industry.”

AdamsCountyAmbulance Members Ratify Agreement

Members of Local 822 in Quincy, IL reached a new four-year agreement with the Adams County Ambulance Board, covering 35 paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Because EMTs are required to perform paramedic duties as long as they hold a paramedic license, a stumbling block in negotiations concerned EMTs receiving proper pay for that knowledge and experience.

Paramedics will receive 3 a percent raise in each of the first 3 years and 3.5 percent in the fourth year of the agreement. EMTs licensed as paramedics will receive an additional $100 a month for obtaining and holding that license.

The new agreement also provides wage increases for EMTs with up to three years of experience 6 percent in each of the first three years and 3.5 percent the fourth year; EMTs with four to seven years’ experience will receive 5 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent and 3.5 percent; EMTs with 8 years or more, 4 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent and 3.5 percent.