iMail for Tuesday, November 18, 2008

IAM Organizers Log 77.8 Percent Win Rate

U.S. labor unions increased their overall percentage of successful representational elections during the first half of 2008, with the IAM recording the third highest number of workers organized, according to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) data.

The IAM won 35 out of 45 elections held during the six-month period, bringing collective bargaining rights to 1,015 new members. The IAM also tallied the highest win rate among major unions, winning 77.8 percent of the elections in which it participated.

While the number of resolved representation elections conducted by the NLRB during the first half of 2008 was exactly the same as the number concluded in the same time period last year, the percentage of union victories increased more than eight percent, from 58.5 percent to 66.8 percent.

“Despite a political and business environment that is more hostile to union organizers than at any time in recent history, it’s heartening to see workers in this country are still willing to stand up for their rights on the job,” said IAM Organizing Director Larry Washam. “The IAM has a great team and a great program and I’m confident we’re on track to improve on these numbers in the months to come.”

IAM Mourns Passing of Robert Kalaski

Former IAM Communications Director Robert J. Kalaski passed away on November 16, 2008, after a courageous struggle with cancer. Kalaski, 67, led the Communications Department from 1977 until his retirement in 2001.

Serving under numerous IAM presidents, Kalaski pioneered the IAM’s landmark media monitoring project and guided the IAM’s press and public relations efforts during monumental battles with Eastern Airlines and against the corporate pirate Frank Lorenzo.

“Bob Kalaski was a good friend and a shining light, in his craft of labor journalism and as a person whose warm-hearted personality touched so many in the Machinists union,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “We will miss him.”

The son of a Grand Lodge Representative, Kalaski joined IAM Headquarters in 1966 as an Associate Editor of the Machinist weekly newspaper. He was also a respected member of the labor journalism community, serving as vice president of the International Labor Press Association and the first president of the International Labor Communications Association.

Join the Campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act

IAM members can help win passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) by joining the AFL-CIO’s “Million Member Mobilization” to call on the next president and Congress to pass EFCA and give more working families a chance to organize and bargain for a better future.

The IAM has joined the effort with customized cards for IAM members to sign. Cards are being distributed via District Lodges to Local Lodges in the United States. “We need every IAM member possible to sign a card to support the Employee Free Choice Act,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “The Employee Free Choice Act will give employees the voice they need to win better wages, benefits and a strong voice on the job.

Enroll Now for 2009 WWW Center Courses

The official announcement and call for the 2009 Leadership and Train-the-Trainer programs at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center is on its way to local and district lodges throughout the United States and Canada.

Leadership programs fill quickly and locals and districts are advised to take action to submit enrollments as soon as possible. A new addition to the schedule of classes for 2009 is Spanish Leadership II.

The WWW Center has also released the 2009 schedule of staff and departmental programs. The full schedule of programs for 2009 as well as enrollment forms are available here.

Members and staff should be aware of several recent changes involved in traveling to the WWW Center. First, there is a new pick-up procedure and location at BWI Airport. Detailed information on new procedure at the WWW Depot at BWI is available here.

Also, remember to request and save your receipts for airline baggage charges. The WWW Center will reimburse for any fee an airline charges for a participant’s first checked bag. The reimbursement form and instructions are available here. Finally, due to new Transportation Security Administration security procedures, local and district lodges must provide a member’s full name and date of birth on enrollment forms to allow the WWW Center to purchase airline tickets.

Quebec Machinist Dies in Industrial Accident

An industrial accident has claimed the life of Roger Desrochers, a 41-year veteran employee at Sherwood Industries and member of Local 922 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Desrochers passed away on October 24, 2008, following injuries he received while trying to move a compressor. Workers were trying to move the compressor with a forklift when Desrochers became pinned under the heavy unit. An investigation into the accident is ongoing.