The IAM is launching ‘America’s Edge: Our Skills, Our Kids,’ an issue campaign urging more public investment in skills development. By re-emphasizing technical and vocational education in America’s high schools, expanding industrial and manufacturing technology courses in America’s community colleges and creating High-Tech Institutes that will focus on 21st Century manufacturing technologies, the IAM hopes to close the growing skills gap that America faces.
In the first salvo of a year-long campaign, the IAM will begin running television ads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina right after the Christmas holidays.
“It’s high time that we invested in the skills our kids need to compete in the global economy,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Public investment at the local, state and federal level skews too heavily towards the children who are college bound. We need to provide options for the twenty-four million children who enter high school each decade but do not go on to secure a college degree.
“Blue collar kids need to understand that their innate talents are valued by this society,” explained Buffenbarger. “Their career choices cannot be reduced to an either-or proposition. Either get a college degree or accept a minimum wage job — that’s not the American way. And creating alternative pathways towards jobs that provide both challenging careers and a solid middle-class livelihood requires greater public investment in technical and vocational education, apprenticeships and community colleges.”
More than 1,000 IAM members, staff and guests attended the Twenty-Seventh Annual William. W. Winpisinger Charity Banquet in Las Vegas this weekend in support of Guide Dogs of America (GDA). Founded in 1948 by an IAM member, GDA provides guide dogs to visually impaired individuals free of charge.
“We’re here today in support of a truly great cause,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Watching the services these highly trained dogs provide and the hard work that goes into training them by their owners is both heartwarming and extremely impressive.”
Kicking off this year’s banquet was the drawing for the custom made IAM Bike Build Pro Street Bike, which was won by Denny Dawson, a Minnesota native who purchased his ticket from the Minnesota Hawgs for Dawgs Chapter. Also taking place this weekend in support of GDA was the 7th annual Hawgs for Dawgs Motorcycle Ride and the 27th annual GDA Charity Golf Tournament. When all was said done, more than 1 million dollars had been raised for GDA so far this year.
Aerospace Coordinator and former District 751 President Mark Blondin, IAM National Pension Fund Director Alan Skolnick and Lockheed Martin Corporation received this year’s “Gift of Sight” award for their efforts on behalf of GDA.
For more information on Guide Dogs of America and how you can help, please click here.
When U.S. Army SFC Edward McCaw was deployed to Iraq recently with fellow members of the Maryland National Guard, he carried the basics needed for a tour of duty in harm’s way. Shortly after he arrived, however, he received a surprise supply of non-essential items, including books, cards, magazines, games, snacks and dozens of other “comfort” items donated by staff members and employees at IAM headquarters.
“Ed is the brother of Ken McCaw, the chief building engineer here at IAM headquarters,” explained IAM Community Services Director Maria Cordone, who coordinated the collection for Ed and fellow members of Bravo Company. “When word spread that Ken’s brother was in Iraq, we did what Americans all over the country do when one of their neighbors is called to serve. We just let people know and the donations came pouring in.”
McCaw is based in Northern Iraq, where his unit guards U.S. truck convoys and locates Improvised Explosive Devices planted by insurgents along the highways. His unit hopes to return to the U.S. this spring.
The IAM delivered for members at Securiguard Services at Vancouver Airport in British Columbia, Canada, with an extension to their first collective agreement which provides for wage increases of more than 34 per cent over five years.
The contract extension provides average wage increases of 10.5 percent on July 1, 2008, 8.75 per cent in 2009, 7.6 per cent in 2010, 4.2 per cent plus a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) in 2011 and 4.2 percent plus COLA in 2012.
The 182 members of Local 16 ratified the agreement by a 91 per cent margin. “Nothing has been easy for these people,” explained Fontaine. “When we organized them in August 2006, we had to write new law for the certification. It took 12 months before the Canada Industrial Labour Relations Board ruled that perimeter security at Vancouver International Airport was under the federal jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code. This is a great day for the members and the Machinists.”
The Secriguard members provide security services around the perimeter of the airport which includes checking suspicious packed items and validating the identity of airport personnel to prevent any non-employee intrusions.
The Machinists Union lost a long-time activist and good friend this week with the death of retired Grand Lodge Representative (GLR) Bill Lopez. Lopez was initiated into Local 727 in California in 1942 and was an active member in several other lodges until transferring to Local 1186 in November of 1964.
Lopez served as a Business Representative for District 94 (now District 947) from 1964 to 1980. He was named Grand Lodge Special Representative for what was then the Southwest Territory in 1980, and quickly advanced to Grand Lodge Representative. Lopez retired on February 1, 1989, after an IAM career than spanned more than a half century.
“Bill was a good friend and mentor to many past and present IAM representatives,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “The results of Bill’s good work can be seen in the faces of active and retired IAM members who are enjoying good wages, benefits or a decent retirement. We have lost one of the IAM’s great leaders.”
The U.S. House of Representatives approved historic legislation to end workplace discrimination against Americans on the basis of sexual orientation. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, was approved by a vote of 235 to 184. Employers with 15 or more employees would be barred from firing, refusing to hire, demoting, refusing to promote, or otherwise discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation.
Thirty states permit employers to discriminate against employees based solely on their sexual orientation, and no federal law prohibits such discrimination today. “The House did the right thing to end workplace discrimination and take a stand for fairness,” said IAM Human Rights Department Director Charlotte Sund. “No one should have to worry about losing their job just because of their sexual orientation.”