iMail for Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Machinists Open Contract Talks with Boeing

With soaring profits and more orders for new aircraft than it can handle, the Boeing Company should be looking to its 27,000 Machinists with a combination of gratitude and partnership. Instead, Boeing used the opening round of contract negotiations to propose an end to the traditional pension plan for new hires.

“We are in the strongest bargaining position we have had in years,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski, following the formal exchange of contract proposals in Seattle, WA on May 9. “By any measure, Boeing is one of the most successful companies in the world, and our members are a huge part of that.”

Boeing has experienced a dramatic turnaround since the aerospace recession that crippled the industry in the wake of the September 11 attacks, with profits that exceeded 800 percent over the past five years. “Boeing has seen a 38 percent increase in profits in the first quarter of 2008 alone,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson, “yet they propose cuts and higher costs to the very workforce that makes them successful.”

Additional takeaways proposed by Boeing include eliminating retiree medical coverage for new hires, modification of the COLA formula and eliminating Wichita from the bargaining unit. An earlier attempt by Boeing to carve Wichita from the bargaining unit led to a strike in 2005 that shut Boeing down for a month.

Despite the distance that separated the two sides on the first day of formal negotiations, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger expressed optimism that an agreement was possible. “We both want a successful conclusion to these negotiations,” said Buffenbarger. “It’s one reason we agreed to start talks a month earlier than previous negotiations to provide both sides more time to resolve the complex issues.” The current three-year contract expires September 4, 2008 at 12:01 a.m.

LCLAA to Celebrate 35 Years of Struggle, Solidarity

The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) will celebrate 35 years of advancing social, political and economic justice for Hispanics throughout the Americas at their 17th Annual Membership Convention on August 4-8, 2008 at the Disney Contemporary Resort in Orlando, FL.

Among the issues that will be addressed at this year’s Convention will be the critical role Latino voters will play in the presidential and congressional elections in November. LCLAA leaders plan to work strategically with Latino community leaders from around the country to grow the Latino vote, while educating the community about important progressive issues affecting the nation.

The Convention theme this year is “LCLAA at 35: Unidos en Una Voz.”
“We truly believe Latinos will play a significant role in determining who our next President will be,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, who serves as LCLAA National Vice President. “We expect to continue registering working families to vote in record numbers.”

The IAM is very supportive of LCLAA. In addition to GVP Martinez, Western Territory AA Gary Allen also serves on the National Executive Board, with Transportation GLR Dora Cervantes and IAM-TCU Legislative Representative Tony Padilla. For more information on LCLAA and the Convention, visit

Last Call for Newsletter and Website Contest Entries

Don’t forget to send your entries for the popular IAM Newsletter and Website Contest. Entries should be mailed by May 16, 2008. The contest is open to all local and district lodges in good standing that have publications that are regularly distributed to members and/or websites that are regularly updated. Click here for complete contest rules and application forms.

Shaving Pay Earns Raytheon $130,000 Fine

A six-year effort by GLR Maria Santiago Lillis and the IAM’s legal counsel resulted in a six-figure settlement for five IAM-represented Field Engineers employed by Raytheon in Hawaii.
The investigation by Lillis uncovered violations under the Service Contract Act and Fair Labor Standards Act, including misclassifying the Engineers as “exempt” employees, a move that shortchanged them by much as $10 per hour.
Raytheon agreed to pay $130,000 and to correct the violations. The money will be divided among the affected employees, who are members of Local 1998 in Honolulu.

The Engineers are part of a bargaining unit that performs technical, maintenance, evaluation and repair work on Mk-48 Torpedoes at the Navy’s Heavyweight Torpedo Intermediate Maintenance Activity at Pearl Harbor.

“Sister Lillis kept up a tenacious fight and it paid off for these members,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “Her persistence undermined the company’s attempt to stall and challenge what they should have rightfully paid from the start.”

Local 2003 Member is May Sister of the Month

Twenty eight-year IAM member Patty Meek is a Maintenance Test Pilot for Army Fleet Support (AFS) at Ft. Rucker, AL.

Patricia Meek has been an IAM member for 28 years and currently serves as Trustee for Local 2003 in Daleville, AL. She has previously held positions on the Grievance and Legislative Committees.

Meek, a Maintenance Test Pilot for Army Fleet Support (AFS) at Ft. Rucker, AL, became more involved in union activities to become “part of the solution” and to help make the 3,000-member local more responsive to the members’ needs.
To accomplish her goal, Meek took part in the AFL-CIO Contract Negotiations and Grievance School, as well as leadership and departmental trainings at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center.

For other women considering becoming more active in the union, Meek advises them to rely on perseverance. “Some will support you, some will oppose you, but be true to the ideals of trade unionism and it’s possible to make a difference.”

Among her accomplishments, Meek has served on the Ozark City Board of Adjustments, as President of the Dale County Democratic Party for three years and is a member of the Sky Soldiers Aerial Demonstration Team.

Florida Transit Workers Vote IAM

Left to right, Michael Jones, DBR Stephen Hernandez, Phyllis Kerby, Delores Reed, Roger Music, Nelson Ruiz, Shirley Fossett, Janet Jackson, District Organizer Mike Kimmell and GLSR Ramon A. Garcia.

Ninety-three drivers who operate wheelchair-enabled buses to transport disabled citizens to medical and business appointments in Jacksonville, FL voted unanimously to become IAM members recently. The drivers are employed by First Group, a sub-contractor for the Jacksonville Transit Authority in Jacksonville, FL.

First Group has a Freedom of Association Policy, allowing the workers to decide upon union representation with absolutely no interference. “The company was good to their word,” said Southern Territory Special Representative Ramon Garcia. “They let the workers decide, and they voted 100 percent for the IAM. It illustrates that without heavy-handed company interference, people want a union.”

“Congratulations to our newest members,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “It was a great job by our organizing team, DBR Steve Hernandez and District Lodge 112. It’s also a tribute to First Group that they respect their employees’ right to a fair and democratic vote.”