iMail for Tuesday, May 22, 2007

‘Day of Action’ Signals Grassroots Revival

The thousands of Machinists who came to Washington, DC last week for the 2007 Legislative Conference and the Transportation Department’s “Day of Action” returned home after witnessing firsthand the impact that grassroots political involvement can have.

From an impassioned speech by John Edwards at the Legislative Conference, who repeatedly echoed the Machinists theme of “Enough is Enough,” to Hillary Clinton’s vow to restore visibility to union members and working families, it became clear that candidates are already listening closely to what IAM members have to say.

“Last week’s events are one part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure our members’ concerns are part of this nation’s political dialog heading into the 2008 presidential election,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, whose own remarks http://www.goiam.org/index.php/news/recent-speeches/speeches-archives/3065-remarks-of-ip-buffenbarger-to-the-day-of-action at the Day of Action were greeted with cheers of approval. “I want to thank every member who took part in last week’s activities. This union is clearly motivated and it’s inspiring to see such solidarity in action and to hear it reflected in the remarks of candidates seeking the highest office in the land.”

Appeals Court Rules Against Defense Workers

In a 2-to-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled last week that the Department of Defense (DoD) has the right to “curtail” collective bargaining rights for more than 400,000 federal employees for the next two years. The decision dismisses a lower court injunction barring implementation of personnel rules proposed as part of the DoD’s controversial National Security Personnel System (NSPS).

The ruling will allow the DoD to circumvent civil service protections for government workers and to abrogate collective bargaining agreements practically at will. At risk will be federal workers’ hours of work, shifts, alternative work schedules, overtime and more.

“We are appalled by the hostility the Bush administration continues to display toward federal workers,” said IAM Government Employees Director Frank Carelli. “It was bad enough when the Department of Defense overreached in developing the regulations for the new personnel system. It’s even worse now that the court has taken the liberty to expand it.”

The IAM vowed to stand with the United Defense Workers Coalition (UDWC), http://www.uniteddodworkerscoalition.org, a coalition of 36 unions representing 750,000 government workers. “We will not back up, back down or retreat from this administration’s assault on federal workers,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Together with UDWC, we will move for a full court review of the latest decision.”

In more encouraging news, the U.S. House of Representatives voted last week 397-27 to support collective bargaining in the DoD and to stop the department’s attempts to eliminate due process rights. “We believed all along that we would need a legislative fix for NSPS,” said Carelli. “Now it’s up to the Senate to act.”

Please contact your Senator by going to http://capwiz.com/iamaw/issues/alert/?alertid=9649451 and urging them to restore the rights of federal workers.

IAM-GE Negotiations Underway in New York

Pensions, heath care and job security are key issues in the negotiations that began this week between General Electric Co. (GE) and a coalition of 14 unions representing 23,000 workers nationwide. The IAM represents nearly 2,500 employees at 18 GE facilities in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“We are determined to bargain a contract that acknowledges GE’s enormous financial resources and assures good jobs for current and future employees at GE,” said GVP Rich Michalski. “We are equally determined that these talks will not become an opportunity for GE to reneg on long-standing commitments to its employees or to benchmark itself against financially troubled competitors.”

The contract talks, now underway in New York City, will conclude with a vote by members on a so-called “last, best and final” offer from the company. The current four-year contract expires on June 17.

Virginia Members Ratify New Accord with Philip Morris

Local 10 in Richmond, VA, announced a new three-year contract with good wages, job security language and a pension plan for IAM members who manufacture smokeless tobacco products at Philip Morris’ newest facility in Williamsburg, VA.

Philip Morris agreed to recognize the IAM as the workers’ representative after 26 of the 27 employees at the new facility signed authorization cards seeking IAM representation. Local 10 Business Representative Jeff Agee then sat down with the company and negotiated a new, cover-to-cover collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified by a 90 percent margin.

“It’s a good tobacco contract,” said Agee. “We got raises, performance payouts, pension, and job security language for the workers. Everyone is very pleased,” said Agee. “If the product is successful, this could easily translate into hundreds of new members in Williamsburg.”

“It took less than two months from the day the workers walked into a brand-new facility until they were under a strong IAM contract,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “Congratulations to BR Agee and his committee for an outstanding job of ensuring a bright future for our newest members at Philip Morris.”

Machinists Ratify Three-Year Contract at Boeing St. Louis

IAM members of District 837 voted late last week to ratify a new three-year contract with the Boeing Co. in St. Louis, MO, that includes a 9.5 percent wage increase over the life of the accord and lump sum payments in the first and second years of the contract.

The new contract also includes a pension increase from $60 per month per year of service to $70 and will also include newly-hired employees in the Defined Pension Plan which Boeing had sought to exclude.

“DBR Rick Smith assembled a fine bargaining committee,” said Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin, who also praised assistance of Midwest Territory GLR Rod Hoffman and David White from the IAM Strategic Resources Department.

District 837 represents approximately 2,600 members at Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems unit in St. Louis, MO, who build the F-18 Super Hornet, the F-15 Eagle and manufacture parts for the C-17. 

2006 Winners Honored at Communications Conference

Winners of the 2006 IAM Newsletter and Website Contest, Kalaski Award and Kourpias Award were honored at a special awards dinner as part of the 2007 Communications Conference in Baltimore, MD.

International President Tom Buffenbarger presented the awards and General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart and General Vice President Rich Michalski were also on hand. Winners included District Lodge 141 and Local Lodge 1781 who took top honors in General Excellence for newsletters and District Lodge 143 and Local Lodge 1782 who won top honors for General Excellence for websites. Click here (http://www.goiam.org/publications/2006winners/) for a list of all winners and comments by the independent panel of contest judges.

Al Abromitis, a 24-year member of Local 1759 in Herndon, VA, won the Robert J. Kalaski Award, which is given to honor distinguished and effective communication efforts promoting the mission of the labor movement. Abromitis was a local lodge newsletter editor and is now the web steward and Communicator for District 141.

Michelle Amber was awarded the George J. Kourpias award for excellence in labor journalism. Amber is a 30-year veteran journalist for two BNA publications, Daily Labor Report and Labor Relations Week, who writes about collective bargaining and organizing in both the manufacturing and service sectors and is the lead reporter for AFL-CIO issues.

“The awards ceremony is our newsletter editors’ and web stewards’ chance for a well-deserved thank you for the vital job they do for our union,” said IAM Communications Director Rick Sloan. “All of the IAM’s editors, web stewards and award winners work hard getting out the IAM’s message to our members and the public.”