Despite having less than 100 members employed at a single location of bankrupt Delphi Corp., the IAM plans to be an active member of the six-union coalition formed this week to fight threatened cuts in pay, benefits and pensions.
As a member of the Mobilizing@Delphi coalition, the IAM joins forces with the United Auto Workers, International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America, United Steelworkers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and International Union of Operating Engineers.
“The 33,650 Delphi workers represented by our six unions are on the front lines of this critical struggle, but they are not alone; they have the full support and solidarity of more than 5.5 million active and retired members of our unions,” said the coalition in a joint statement. “Together, we will do everything possible to make sure their rights and interests are protected.”
Garnering public support for the workers at Delphi will be a key goal of the union coalition. “The shock waves of Delphi’s proposed cuts will spread far beyond the tens of thousands of workers directly affected,” said IP Buffenbarger. “This is an economic assault on millions of American families and hundreds of heartland communities.”
The IAM won an important legal victory in Federal Court this week when a judge issued a permanent injunction that expanded free speech rights of striking Boeing workers in Huntsville, AL.
The IAM filed suit in U.S. District Court in Aniston, AL, charging the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority with placing excessive restrictions on the rights of IAM picketers on strike against Boeing in Huntsville. The Airport Authority limited the strikers to locations well away from the entrances to Boeing’s main facility.
In his decision, District Court Judge Robert Propst granted a permanent injunction allowing the strikers to picket the main gate of the facility, with reasonable restrictions regarding the number of picketers allowed.
The City of Huntsville and the Machinists union are continuing to meet in an attempt to resolve issues concerning adequate lighting at other locations, and to ensure that IAM members’ rights of assembly and free speech are observed and protected.
The IAM is on strike against Boeing space and defense facilities in Alabama, Florida and California. Key issues in the strike include an attempt by Boeing to end retiree health care for new hires and increased healthcare costs for current employees.
Working families are making a final push to get worker-friendly candidates elected in gubernatorial races being held in Virginia and New Jersey on November 8. A democratic sweep will act as a springboard to garner support for democratic candidates in the 36 gubernatorial races in 2006.
In New Jersey, more than 7,000 union volunteers and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka are performing GOTV efforts to help Democratic candidate Jon Corzine defeat Republican Doug Forrester.
Union volunteers have are also distributing leaflets and performing GOTV efforts in Virginia, where Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Jerry Kilgore are running neck and neck. Kaine received last minute help from current Virginia Governor Mark Warner, while Kilgore may be hurt by an election-day appearance by President Bush, whose approval ratings continue to plunge.
Meanwhile, thousands of union members in California are working tirelessly to defeat Proposition 75, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s anti-worker initiative aimed to restrict political involvement by working families in their unions while doing nothing to limit giant corporations. Since January, union members have passed out over a million leaflets against Proposition 75 in their workplace, and made over 400,000 calls.
A coalition of ten federal employee unions filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Columbia against the imposition of the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) at the Department of Defense (DoD).
The new system, based on rules first imposed on workers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is an unfair set of personnel rules that strip away collective bargaining rights and civil service protections for more than 700,000 civilian DoD workers. A federal judge recently ordered DHS to revamp major sections of the rules because they violated the law.
“These rules are so unfair to federal employees that even a Republican-appointed judge ruled against the Homeland Security Department,” said IAM Government Employees Director Frank Carelli. “The Defense Department is making the same blatant attempt to bust unions and we expect to stop DoD, too.”
IAM/NFFE is one of the ten unions filing suit. “Since the Pentagon first proposed NSPS, the unions have continually tried to have a meaningful discussion with DoD regarding the new personnel system, only to have our good-faith efforts rebuffed with claims we would not budge from the status quo,” said IAM/NFFE Federal District 1 President Richard Brown. “These regs demonstrate that DoD ignored the voice of its workers in the development of NSPS.”
“When I get mad . . . I walk,” said Local 1956 member Sue Eichstadt, who recently completed a seven-day, 154 mile journey from Windom, Minnesota to the state capitol in St. Paul to help focus attention on the health care crisis and put pressure on state legislators.
Upon her arrival in St. Paul, Eichstadt’s daughter and a large group of supporters gathered to help her deliver hundreds of signatures from people she met at town hall meetings along the way.
Minnesota State Senator Linda Berglin and many other lawmakers accepted the signatures. Berglin, who chairs the Senate’s Health and Human Service Budget Division, said she will sponsor legislation to amend the Minnesota constitution to make health care a right.
When asked why she did this Eichstadt replied, “I don’t have all the answers, but for me an amendment to the Constitution for affordable health care is the best way to go.”
People “deserve to have health care,” said Eichstadt, who used her vacation time to complete the trek. “It’s a right. I mean we have the right to hunt and fish, we should have the right to health care. I’m going to keep walking until we get the amendment.”
Northwest Airlines is asking a bankruptcy court to temporarily reduce the wages paid to IAM employees by 19 percent and to cut sick pay by 25 percent. This amounts to 60 percent of their final cost savings, a goal the IAM does not agree with. The company is seeking to make these temporary changes effective November 16, 2005.
Northwest has stated that if the judge approves the temporary emergency relief, it will postpone its separate 1113(c) motion calling for the bankruptcy court to reject collective bargaining agreements for members of District 143 and other unions.
“The postponement of the 1113(c) trial allows us time to craft long-term solutions to Northwest’s financial problems,” said DePace. “Northwest’s crisis took years to develop and its problems will not be solved overnight. The IAM intends to utilize any additional time to obtain the best possible outcome for our members.”
Complete explanations of both the Sections 1113(c) and 1113(e) processes and a copy of Northwest’s 1113(e) filing are available on the District 143 website, www.iam143.org.