iMail for Tuesday, May 20, 2008

IAM Urges DNC to Recognize Florida, Michigan Delegates

The IAM is urging the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to seat, and accord full voting rights, to delegates from Florida and Michigan at the Democratic National Convention in August.

“Our primary objective should be winning the White House with a Democratic nominee who cares about working families and the issues that affect their lives,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “And we cannot achieve that goal if the Florida and Michigan delegations are not seated.”

In a letter to DNC Chairman Howard Dean and members of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, Buffenbarger outlines the importance delegates from Florida and Michigan will play in November’s general election, especially given the historic advantage Republican nominee John McCain will hold in the Mountain, Great Plains and Midwestern states.

Factoring in additional advantages in Southern and Border states, McCain could start the Fall campaign with 261 electoral votes locked away, just nine short of the number needed to win the White House.

“We cannot win the White House by disenfranchising 2.3 million Democratic primary voters in Michigan and Florida,” said Buffenbarger. “That is not a casual statement. It is based on the 2004 election results and the harsh realities we face in amassing 270 Electoral College votes.”

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting May 31 to make a decision on the status of the Florida and Michigan delegations.
Click here to send a message to the DNC urging them to fully recognize the Florida and Michigan delegations.

Shipbuilders at BIW Ratify New Contract

Members of Local S-6 in Bath, ME voted on May 18 to ratify a four-year contract with Bath Iron Works, securing wage increases of 3.5 percent, 3.8 percent, 3.8 percent and 4.0 percent over the life of the contract.

The contract, which was approved by a 2-1 margin, covers approximately 3,400 members and will also increase the hourly contribution rate in the IAM Pension Plan from $1.30 to $2, a move that boosts the monthly multiplier from $93 to $139. The new accord also holds the line on health care costs, with no increase to employee contributions for health premiums during the life of the agreement.

“This contract provides our members and their families with a measure of economic stability that is simply not available to non-union households,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “All the resources of this union, from the International President’s office to the economic research capability of the Strategic Resources Department, were at work on behalf of our members at BIW to bring this negotiation to a successful conclusion.”

IAM members working at BIW shipyard include fitters, welders, painters, electricians, mechanics and other classifications. For more information about Local S-6, visit their website at

IAM Legislative Conference Opens in Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of activists from every level of the IAM are in Washington, D.C. this week for the 2008 Legislative Conference; four days of planning and lobbying on behalf of fellow members whose livelihoods are frequently tied to decisions made here.

“Even the casket you’re buried in is regulated by politicians,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger in a keynote address that stressed the importance of face-to-face meetings with lawmakers. “The most important thing we can do is put them on notice and let them know you’re not just from the union, that you’re also a vote from back home.”

Among the hot-button issues for delegates this year is the Air Force decision to award a U.S. government contract worth more than $40 billion to Toulouse, France-based EADS over Boeing for the next generation of aerial refueling tankers. “The government chose a much larger, more vulnerable, less capable and more costly tanker,” said Boeing’s Senior VP for Public Policy Tod Hullin, who warned that outsourcing a project of this size would limit America’s ability to produce such aircraft in the future.

Delegates will also lobby lawmakers on pending airline mergers and the “express carrier” status of Federal Express, a legal loophole that severely restricts local organizing efforts on behalf of Federal Express workers.

“We’re asking members to lock arms on these issues because they have the potential to affect everyone in this room,” said Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, who challenged delegates to secure definite commitments from lawmakers. “We need “yes” or “no” answers on these issues.”

Union Industries Show Big Hit in Detroit

The Machinists Union was well-represented this past weekend at the AFL-CIO’s 70th Annual America@Work Union Industries Show held at the Cobo Center in Detroit, MI. The IAM fielded 18 exhibits manned by members and representatives who described what goes into their products before the union label goes on.

“We are extremely proud to display the fine craftsmanship evidenced by the remarkable products and services of our skilled members,” said IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart. “We thank the IAM-represented companies for taking part, and we thank our members for making this year’s Union Industries show another huge success.”

The three-day event, hosted each year by the AFL-CIO’s Union Label and Service Trades Department, spotlights the skills and services of union workers throughout America. At the IAM booths, attention also was drawn to the nation’s critical skills shortage, as the message, “America’s Edge: Our Skills, Our Kids” was prominently displayed throughout.

More than 300 exhibits – covering an area equal to three football fields – showed tens of thousands of visitors why union-made-in-the-USA products are still worth looking for.
IAM-made products were a big draw, including long-time participants and crowd favorites, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and John Deere lawn tractor.

Other popular IAM exhibitors included Amana, Cummings Bridgeway, Corwin Knives, Faygo Beverages, American Unions Embroidery Printing & More LLC, Guide Dogs of America, IAM Benefit Trust Fund, IAM National Pension Fund, Union Office Solutions, United Leasing, United Sportsmen’s Alliance, USA Coffee, York Unitary, Ryder Transportation, UPS and Wink Chevrolet.

In addition, 500 members of Local 1720 in Calvert City, KY welcomed news that their employer, International Specialty Products (ISP) was one of two companies honored this year with a 2008 Union Label and Service Trades Department Labor-Management Award. The award recognizes companies for their commitment to positive labor-management relations through collective bargaining, training and cooperation.

Locals, Districts Key to Convention Book

Every four years, the Convention Commemorative Book provides a wide-angle view of the IAM, its members and the companies where we work. In addition to helping defray the cost of the Convention, the book provides local and district lodges with an opportunity to stand up and be recognized for their service, their history and their identity.

This year, the deadline for ads has been extended to give locals and districts every opportunity to be included in this historic document. Local and district representatives  are urged to immediately contact Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative James (Rody) Rodehorst at 316-841-8313 or by email for additional information about options to design their own ad, or select from a template.

Florida Auto Techs Torqued Off

Anti-union activities by a Florida auto dealership drew a formal complaint from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and a stiff penalty from an Administrative Law Judge for wrongful discharge of a union supporter.

Auto repair technicians at Ed Morse Sawgrass Auto Mall in Sunrise, FL voted overwhelmingly for IAM representation last July. Since then, executives at the Ed Morse dealership have refused to bargain in good faith for a first contract and unlawfully fired one employee, Craig Robinson, for supporting the union.

Following an Unfair Labor Practice complaint filed by the IAM, Administrative Law Judge William Cates ordered Robinson back to work with full back pay. “We have other charges pending against Sawgrass for failure to bargain,” said Southern Territory Organizer Dave Porter, who estimated Robinson’s back pay will come to about $90,000.  Officials at the dealership have also withheld wage increases and charged employees with the full cost of their health care premium.

The technicians at the dealership have an exemplary service record, setting company production records the week they filed for representation and consistently being rated in the top 10 in a field of 6,000 dealers in 10 different categories relating to service.

“It’s time for Sawgrass to stop their anti-union activity, and to sit down and negotiate with their employees,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “The IAM represents Auto Technicians across the country, and these technicians also deserve to have their skills, their rights and their wishes respected.