iMail for Tuesday, May 23, 2006

IAM Reaches Tentative Agreement with Northwest Airlines

The IAM announced a tentative agreement with Northwest Airlines covering 5,600 Equipment Service & Stock Clerks (ESSC) at the bankrupt airline. Terms of the tentative agreement are available on the District 143 website,

“The negotiating committee unanimously recommends ratification of the agreement to avoid the elimination of our contract,” said IAM District 143 President Bobby DePace. “We are not recommending ratification because the terms are favorable, but because the alternative is worse.”

A separate but simultaneous strike vote will also take place to authorize a strike in case the proposal is rejected by the membership and the ESSC contract is abrogated by the court.

The ESSC membership rejected a company proposal on March 7, 2006. IAM members in the Clerical, Office, Fleet and Passenger Service (COFPS) and Plant Protection (PP) classifications ratified Northwest’s settlement proposals. Flight Simulator Technicians & Simulator Support Specialists (SIMOP) also rejected Northwest’s proposal in March, but the airline has not moved to abrogate their agreement at this time.


Thousands Denied Voting Rights in New Orleans

New Orleans voters reelected former Mayor Ray Nagin in their first municipal election since Hurricane Katrina, however, thousands of displaced residents were unable to vote due to the absence of out-of-state polling places.  

Earlier this year, the Bush Justice Department approved an election plan that allowed only three ways of voting; voting in New Orleans, in satellite polling places around Louisiana or by absentee ballot. No accommodation was made for the thousands of New Orleans residents still living outside Louisiana and unable to return home.

In March, a Louisiana State Senate committee rejected a bill that would have created satellite polling places in other states housing Katrina evacuees. Of the 102,000 voters eligible to vote by absentee ballot or in early voting, only 26,000 voted, according to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a voting rights advocacy group.

“The decision to deny voting rights to thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees is the latest example of the federal government’s inadequate response to the greatest natural disaster to ever hit an American city,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux. “Every effort should be made to ensure the right to vote is restored for every citizen of New Orleans before the upcoming mid-tem and general elections.”


IAM History Makes Online Debut

IAM history comes alive with the online debut of all of the Machinists’ Monthly Journals from the earliest edition in 1889 all the way through its last year of publication 1956. The collection, which also includes the Machinist newspaper published from 1946 to 1994, is a joint project started in 2004 between the Georgia State University Southern Labor Archives and the Machinists union.

Representatives from Georgia State and the IAM met at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center to demostrate the new digital collection. “This has been a tremendous project to capture our history and make it available to our members, labor scholars and anyone interested in labor history,” said Winpisinger Center Director Jim Leslie. Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA has been the official archive of the Machinists union since 1988 and houses many of the IAM’s most precious documents. The IAM was founded in Atlanta in May, 1888.

“This project uses the latest technology to take us back to our earliest days. We want our members to use this site to learn about our past and our struggles so we can stay strong in the future,” said Headquarters GVP Bob Thayer who was at the debut.

Thousands of pages of Monthly Journals and Machinists newspapers have been converted to digital PDF format and are keyword searchable, including name and topic. The new site is the result of a two-year effort that involved compiling a complete set of Machinists’ Monthly Journals and Machinist newspapers, converting thousands of pages of materials into digital format, cataloguing the collection and making it available online.

“This is an incredible collection,” said Pamela Hackbart-Dean, director of the Southern Labor Archives for Georgia State University. “These publications give not only the IAM’s history but are a source for scholars, students and IAM members to get labor’s perspective on some of the greatest events in North American history. The IAM has made a great contribution to labor history.”  


Communicators to Choose Meeting Sit

Local and district Communicators will be given the opportunity to help pick the location of the 2007 Communications Conference. With Houston, Nashville, and New Orleans as possibilities, Communicators will make the decision.

Ideally, the location would feature an affordable union hotel in a location that would attract participants. Communicators should email Communications Director Rick Sloan with their pick.

“Delegates to the 35 th Grand Lodge Convention made a prescient decision to create the position of Communicator,” said Sloan. “That decision has paid dividends ten times over.”

The 2007 conference will put Communicators on an equal par with editors and web stewards and will feature workshops aimed directly at Communicators with ways to help them do their job more effectively.


Emmart Named to New IT Position

General Secretary-Treasurer Warren L. Mart has chosen Teresa Emmart to replace Colleen Morgan as Applications Development Manager effective June 1, 2006. 

Emmart first came to the IAM as a Programmer in 1988.  She has worked her way up through the ranks of the Information Systems Department from Programmer to IT Specialist, II.  She came to the IAM with a BS degree in Computer Science and has since earned a Master’s degree in Telecommunications Management. She has developed applications for Membership, V-Lodge, Roster, MNPL and Organizing.   

“We are truly fortunate to have IT professionals the caliber of Teresa Emmart added to our management team,” said GST Mart.


FTC Sees No Problem in Gas Prices

Catering to oil industry giants who have seen record profits over the past year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Monday that they found no evidence of price gouging by oil companies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The investigation’s findings have angered both Democratic lawmakers and American consumers, who have cut travel plans and altered other expenses to deal with soaring gas prices.

National gas prices are currently averaging $2.93 a gallon, up 75 cents from a year ago and up 24 cents since April 11. Meanwhile, the country’s three largest integrated oil companies – Exxon, Chevron and ConocoPhillips – pulled in an astounding $63 billion in 2005.

“If today’s FTC report proves anything, it’s that federal investigators don’t have the tools they need to protect the American people from gas price gouging,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said in a statement. “With gas prices sky high and oil company profits at record levels, Americans deserve all the protection they can get.”

The commission said in their report they found 15 examples of price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but attributed those high prices to “regional and local market trends.”

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