iMail for Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Help Pass Bankruptcy Reform Bill

Two similar bills, one in the U.S. Senate and another in the House of Representatives are aimed at protecting the interests of workers and retirees in corporate bankruptcies.

“Wealthy executives get rewarded in bankruptcy for their failures while front-line workers shoulder the burden of corporate restructuring,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “H.R. 3652, introduced by Representative John Conyers and S. 2092, introduced by Senator Richard Durbin, will address the inequities in the current bankruptcy law.”

IAM Representatives and airline members joined lawmakers at a U.S. Capitol press conference announcing the bills. All IAM members are asked to contact their Senators and Representative to urge their support for the “Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act of 2007.” Messages can be sent directly from the IAM website by following this link.

Key components of the bill include barring companies from leaving pension plans for executives intact when the employees’ pension plan has been terminated, and requiring judicial review of a company’s foreign and domestic holdings in their entirety to determine whether relief from a labor agreement is warranted. More information on the bills is available here

Pay and Pensions Highlight New Pact at BAE Systems

Nearly 450 members of Local 2768 in Irving, TX, who assemble and test electronic equipment for Boeing aircraft, ratified a new three-year agreement with BAE Systems over the weekend.

The new accord contains wage increases of 4.5 percent the first year, 3.5 percent and 3 percent in the second and third years. The pension benefit will increase from $45 to $50 per month and the company also agreed to add the IAM National Pension Plan (NPP) at a starting rate of pay $.50 per hour.  The company would add $27 to the traditional company pension plan, for a total of $77 per month, per year of service, should they decide to opt out of the NPP before Jan. 1, 2009.

Major issues in these negotiations were job combinations, seniority and training issues. The negotiating committee was able to rally the members and gain seniority and training language for the life of the agreement. “This contract will ensure that BAE has a highly skilled, efficient, and flexible workforce while providing affordable healthcare, substantial pay and pension increases and job security for our members and their families,” said Mark Blondin, Aerospace Coordinator. “The entire bargaining committee, led by District 776 BR Joe Alviar did an outstanding job.”

U.S. Leaders Eye Space Center Strike

In an effort to resolve the nearly 3-month old strike at Kennedy Space Center, Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis, District 166 DBR Johnnie Walker and Local 2061 President Lew Jamieson traveled to Washington D.C. this week to meet with IP Tom Buffenbarger, Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, and representatives of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The meeting comes on the heels of a letter from 28 Congresspersons , including Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon, Space and Aerospace Committee Chairman Mark Udall and new Congresswoman and IAM member Laura Richardson.  The letter urges a settlement to the strike and calls for serious and substantive talks to that end.

“Every effort is being made to bring this strike to an end with a contract that respects the rights and contributions of our members at the Space Center,” said DBR Walker. “The letter from members of the House of Representatives was especially welcome by our members and we appreciate the concern and understanding they showed for our situation.”

Kiley Hernandez Named to Communications Staff

Effective October 1, former District 70 Communicator and Local 639 member Kiley Hernandez brings a solid union background and extensive web expertise to IAM headquarters as the newest member of the IAM Communications Department staff.

An IAM member since 1998 when he began work as a Materials Controller/Dangerous Goods Specialist at Bombardier Learjet in Wichita, KS, Hernandez served fellow members in numerous capacities while creating and maintaining an award winning website for District 70.

“I’m looking forward to serving all the members of this union in my new capacity,” said Hernandez, who will be based at IAM headquarters in Upper Marlboro, MD. “It’s an honor to work alongside the members of District 70 and I will never forget the opportunities I was given there.”

Annual Guide Dogs Banquet Set for November 17

The Twenty-Seventh Annual William W. Winpisinger Charity Banquet to benefit Guide Dogs of America will be held on November 17, 2007, at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. Hundreds are expected at the premier fundraiser where this year’s recipients of the 2007 Gift of Sight Award will be Mark Blondin, Alan Skolnick & Lockheed Martin Corporation.

The cut-off date for discounted room reservations is October 12, 2007. To reserve your room, call 1-800-634-3434 and don’t forget to mention the room code for the Negotiated Room Rate is SBDDG7. Any other questions, please call 702-304-0253.

Woodworkers Score Florida Organizing Win

Teamwork paid off for District 166 in Cocoa Beach, FL, District W-3 in Wausau, WI and Local 443 in Laurel, MS with a hard fought organizing win at Alberta Crate and Box in Avon Park, FL, that gave 64 employees the right to bargain for a first contract.

The outcome would have been very different without the combined efforts of District 166’s multilingual Organizer Javier Almanzan, District 166 member Enrique Cibrian and District W-3 Business Representative Jere McFalda, according to District W-2 DBR Leon Blocker, who coordinated the drive with help from Bonnie Nixon of Local 443 and Grand Lodge Representative Randall Rice of the IAM Woodworkers Department.

The next step will be to secure first contract for the workers at Alberta Crate and Box, who manufacture industrial crates and wood boxes. The employer, who fiercely opposed the organizing drive, recently instituted unilateral work rule changes after the election but before the election results were certified by the Board.

“With a solid vote of 49-15, the workers at Alberta Crate and Crate sent a clear message that “enough was enough,” said Rod Kelty, Director of the Woodworkers Department. “It isn’t unusual to have to win two campaigns in order to get justice on the job. First we have to overcome incredible odds to just win the election and then we have to campaign just as hard to win a first contract.”

District W-2 already has a contract with this employer in Bainbridge, Georgia, adding an additional work site will increase the bargaining power of both groups.