iMail for Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Fallen Members Remembered at Winpisinger Center

More than 100 people gathered at the William W. Winpisinger Center for a service honoring IAM members whose lives were lost to workplace accidents, injuries or illness.

“As we remember those who have died,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. in addressing the group, “let us honor them by continuing to fight for a better workplace for everyone.”

Names were added to bricks surrounding the lighthouse monument in tribute to fallen members Arthur Sims, LL 1227; Wilfred Negron, Sr., LL 1776; Don Adkins, LL 681; Jason McKay and Jess McLean, FL 1558 and Gerald Gustin, LL 776.

District 776 Business Rep Joe Alviar said he plans to give pictures and a program from the memorial service to the Gustin family. “I want his family to know that the IAM remembers,” said Alviar. “The company may forget, but the union remembers.”

In honor of fallen firefighters McKay and McLean, the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department of southern Maryland also participated in the ceremony. Two trucks with ladders extended back-to-back created an impressive arc, adding to the stirring tribute.


Judge Rules for IAM in US Airways Dispute

A U.S. District Court Judge in Virginia granted the IAM’s motion for an injunction to compel US Airways to arbitrate a grievance over contract language that would require automatic wage adjustments upon change in control of the airline. In 2005, Districts 141 and 142 filed the grievances claiming the US Airways-America West merger resulted in a change of control of US Airways. The judge also ruled that US Airways could not use the bankruptcy court to block the arbitration and that the merits of the IAM’s grievance must be determined by a neutral arbitrator.

“The IAM has been prepared to present our case before a neutral arbitrator for months, but US Airways refused to attend the original February 26, 2007 arbitration hearing,” said District 142 President and Directing General Chairman Tom Higginbottom. “Management’s attempt to use the bankruptcy court to shield itself from a fair arbitration hearing has only delayed the inevitable and angered the employees who hold the key to the airline’s success.”


District 837 Opens Negotiations with Boeing

The Machinists who build the world’s most sophisticated jet fighters at Boeing’s defense plant in St. Louis, MO, kicked off main table negotiations with company representatives on April 30, 2007. After a formal opening ceremony, union and company representatives reviewed outstanding economic and non-economic issues.

Members of District 837 are deeply concerned over company proposals regarding seniority rights and voted overwhelmingly to sanction a strike if such proposals are contained in the Company’s final offer on May 20, 2007.

“I am cautiously optimistic that the main table negotiators from the Company will recognize the resolve of the members in rejecting any attacks on their seniority,” proclaimed Rick Smith, President and Directing Business Representative and Chief Negotiator. “We have a lot of hard work ahead of us and the Union’s Bargaining Committee is ready to move those issues off the table and begin the economic negotiations that lay ahead of us. But the language currently on the table effectively wipes out seniority rights of every member must be removed.”


Kentucky Labor Council Honors Bob Reynolds

Former District 19 President and long-time IAM Law Committee member Bob Reynolds was honored recently with the 2007 W.C. Young Award in Paducah, KY, for his years of service to union members and for his tireless efforts to provide health care for retired and out-of-work railroaders.

The award, presented by District 154 DBR Benny Adair, is the highest honor given by the Paducah-based Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and is named for the distinguished labor and civil rights leader who died in 1996.

“Bob Reynolds dedicated his life to the twin causes of labor unions and human dignity,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, “He did so without fanfare, but with a fierce determination. He deserves this award in addition to the thanks of untold numbers of people he helped during his career.” Buffenbarger was joined by GST Warren Mart, Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski and more than 100 well-wishers at the ceremony honoring Reynolds.

A front-page article in the Paducah Sun hailed Reynolds as a ‘champion’ for his efforts to save Paducah’s locomotive shops despite a history of bankruptcies and ownership changes. “I’m proud to say there are 280 people working over there now, and I think the workers are a tremendous asset to the community,” said Reynolds of the rail workers in Paducah. “If we didn’t have them we’d sorely miss them.”


Help Stop Forest Service Privatization

While the Bush administration’s scheme to privatize Social Security may be dead for the time being, the wholesale privatization of government work continues.

In the Forest Service, the so-called A-76 competitive sourcing program is destroying the agency’s ability to fulfill its mission, including its responsibility to provide first responders for wildfires and other emergency incidents.

This program, which wastes hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars, has nothing to do with increasing efficiency and everything to do with rewarding political contributors and breaking federal unions. The White House has ordered the agency to ignore current Congressional restrictions and accelerate the outsourcing.

Public outrage helped block the attack on Social Security. Click here to send a message urging your Senators and Representative to stop the outsourcing and destruction of the U.S. Forest Service.


787 Components Arrive in Seattle

Production of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner could start soon after the first major component, horizontal stabilizers, arrived from Italy via a specially outfitted Boeing 747 freighter. Almost 25 percent of the 787 components will come from outside the United States including Italy, Japan, France and China according to the Everett, WA Herald.

After strong efforts by area Machinists union members and 3.2 billion in state subsidies, Boeing agreed to keep final production of the 787 in the Puget Sound region. Boeing, however, has used more foreign suppliers than ever before and given away critical know-how for key components such as the wing-box design to Japan.

“While we applaud Boeing’s decision to build the 787 Dreamliner in Puget Sound, we are still concerned that Boeing is giving away its aerospace future,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Today’s component suppliers are tomorrow’s aircraft builders, builders who will compete directly with Boeing.”


China Threatens Oldest U.S. Manufacturer

More than 200 years ago Paul Revere created Revere Copper, which is now the oldest manufacturing company in the United States. But according to the trade publication Manufacturing and Technology News (MTN), Revere Copper Products, Inc. could become the next victim of China’s currency manipulation and unfair trade practices.

Revere Copper produces copper and brass products used in numerous applications by many different companies. Since 2000, however, nearly 30 percent of the manufacturing plants supplied by Revere Copper have either closed down or moved production offshore. The company also announced it will be closing its copper plate and sheet mill in New Bedford, MA, leaving 85 workers without a job.

For the employees at Revere Copper and those at so many other manufacturing plants throughout the country who have lost their jobs, in large part because of China’s exploitation of cheap labor, the time is long overdue for the Bush administration and lawmakers to take action to halt China’s unfair trade practices.

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