iMail for Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New Contract Ends Iowa City Strike

Members of Local 1426 in Sioux City, IA, ratified a new contract with Smurfit-Stone Container plant, ending a 10-week long strike over pensions, wages, forced overtime and 12-hour days in what were described as sweatshop conditions.

The new agreement contains a 7 percent general wage increase over 4.5 years, a $1,200 lump sum for each employee and a guaranteed number of Saturdays and Sundays off.

“The goal of the IAM is to negotiate better lives for those we represent and this contract does just that,” said District 6 Business Representative John Herrig. “Our members can return to work with their heads up high and their dignity intact in the knowledge that they stood up for their values.”
Herrig credited a visit to Smurfit-Stone’s annual shareholder’s meeting on May 9 with helping move to the strike closer to a settlement. A delegation including 10 strikers including Midwest Territory GVP Phil Gruber and other staff members traveled to Chicago to picket outside the meeting.

“I’m proud of our members at Smurfit-Stone for standing up for the working conditions they deserve,” said GVP Gruber. “It was their determination to have time to spend with their families, justice for themselves and solidarity with each other that won this hard fought battle.”
Full operations at Smurfit-Stone resumed on Monday. According to the return-to-work agreement, all striking employees will return to work within two weeks.


Negotiations Open with United Space Alliance

The Bargaining Committee for Local 2061 in Cocoa, FL, resumed negotiations today with representatives of United Space Alliance (USA) on behalf of nearly 600 members who work on Space Shuttle Operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The negotiations for a new contract, which began May 21, are scheduled to conclude on June 1, 2007, with ratification voting scheduled for June 2.

Key issues for the Space Shuttle workforce include job security and retirement concerns in the wake of plans by NASA to shift from the current Space Shuttle program to next generation Ares/Orion systems. The current Space Shuttle program is slated to conclude in 2010.

“Regardless of the direction NASA may take the space program in the future, the focus of this negotiating committee is to secure the jobs covered by this agreement and the right to negotiate for those jobs in future agreements,” said Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis.

North Carolina Member Wins Harley Davidson

“I never win anything,” was Local 263 member Rick Draher’s lament to Recording Secretary Mark Hester when he was offered the chance to buy a raffle ticket for a 2006 Harley-Davidson Road King.

He certainly can’t say that anymore. Draher, a member of Railroad Local 263 in Charlotte, NC, was stunned to learn he had won the $20,000 IAM-built motorcycle when his ticket was drawn.

Both Draher and Hester work for Norfolk & Southern Railroad in Charlotte, North Carolina and have been union members for 29 and 31 years respectively. Both were members of BMWE (Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees) until they became IAM members in 1999.

The Harley raffle was one of many fundraising activities designed to support the 2008 Grand Lodge Convention in Orlando Florida.

“Congratulations to Brother Draher,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “On behalf of the Grand Lodge Host Committee, I want to thank everyone who participated in the drawing for the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.”

Deadline Nears for IAM Photo and Journalism Contests

The deadlines for the 2007 IAM Photo Contest and the 2007 Newsletter and Website Contests are just around the corner. The deadline for entries in the photo contest is June 15, 2007. Winning photographers will receive a cash prize and their photos will appear in the 2008 IAM calendar. Click here ( ) for complete contest rules and entry forms.

The deadline for entries for the 2007 IAM Newsletter and Website Contest has been extended to June 8, 2007. The contest will consider newsletters published between April 2006 and April 2007 and websites operating online during the judging period. Click here for contest rules and entry forms, click here for forms in French. Call the IAM Communications Department at 301-967-4520 for more information.

AFL-CIO to Hold Regional Diversity Dialogues

The AFL-CIO will sponsor four regional “Diversity Dialogues” this summer to explore changes that will make the labor movement more diverse and inclusive at all levels.

The dialogues will give union members, union officers, constituency group members and state and local leaders the opportunity to discuss full participation and inclusion for all members.

They will also examine best practices and ways to implement Resolution #2, adop ted at the 2005 AFL-CIO Convention, to make the labor movement more inclusive.

The meetings will be held June 9 in Atlanta; June 16 in Philadelphia; June 23 in Detroit and July 14 in San Francisco. Click here for meeting times, locations and a registration form.

House Approves Gas Gouging Bills

With gas prices topping $3.22 a gallon, House lawmakers shrugged off a Bush veto threat and voted 345-72 for a bill that would allow the Justice Department to sue members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for price manipulation.

Member countries in OPEC account for more than one-third of world oil production and have been accused for years of limiting supplies to unfairly drive up the costs of imported crude oil. It was the IAM nearly 30 years ago who first filed a lawsuit charging OPEC with price fixing.

House lawmakers also passed legislation last week that would impose hefty penalties for gas price gouging. The bill would give federal authorities the ability to penalize individuals or companies for taking “unfair advantage” or charging “unconscionably excessive” prices for gas and other fuels.

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