iMail for Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Boeing Talks Stall Over Outsourcing

The latest round of contract talks between the IAM and Boeing broke down over Boeing’s insistence on contract language that could lead to the elimination of more than 2,000 IAM members’ jobs.

Despite record profits and hundreds of aircraft on back order, Boeing continues to claim its future “competitiveness” depends on having the “flexibility” to increase the amount of work performed by outside contractors, vendors and suppliers.

It is increasingly apparent that Boeing’s long-term strategy is to replace hundreds if not thousands of IAM members with outside suppliers. In addition to outsourcing and the use of vendors to perform work normally done by Machinists, other key unresolved issues include health care, wages and pensions.

“The Union will continue to look for ways to resolve this strike so that our members can return to building airplanes and making Boeing record profits, but it cannot be at the price of selling out thousands of our members’ jobs,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski.

Second IAM Member Dies from West Virginia Explosion

After a courageous and prolonged struggle, a second member of Local 656, in Nitro, West Virginia, succumbed to injuries suffered in the August explosion at the Bayer CropScience factory in Institute, West Virginia.

Thirty-year IAM member Bill Oxley died Oct.10 at a burn center in Pittsburgh, PA. Oxley served fellow members as a Shop Steward and on the local negotiating committee. Fellow Local 656 member Barry Withrow died in the August 28 explosion that sent a fireball hundreds of feet in the air and shattered windows far from the plant.

The IAM is taking part in an investigation into the cause of the blast. The investigation also includes state, federal and local officials.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these members during this very difficult time,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr. “Workers should never lose their lives on the job. We should go to work with the knowledge that we will return home to our loved ones.”

The fatal explosion in West Virginia came one month after a storage tank explosion at a paper mill in northern Wisconsin killed two IAM members. More than 6,000 U.S. workers are killed each year from workplace accidents while thousands more die from occupational diseases.

Annual Guide Dogs Banquet Set for November 22

The Twenty-Eighth Annual William W. Winpisinger Charity Banquet to benefit Guide Dogs of America will be held on November 22, 2008, at Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. The yearly event is the premier fundraiser for Guide Dogs of America, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide guide dogs to visually impaired individuals free of charge.

Guide Dogs of America (GDA) was founded by an IAM member in 1948. GDA and the Machinists union have been strong partners ever since. This year’s fundraising activities include a “Hawgs for Dawgs” Harley-Davidson motorcycle ride on Thursday, November 20th, a charity golf tournament on Friday, November 21st and the banquet on Saturday, November 22, 2008. Go to and click on the “Events Calendar” link for more information.

The cut-off date for discounted Bally’s room reservations is October 24, 2008. To reserve your room, call 1-800-634-3434. The event code for the discounted rate is SBDOG8.

Canada Member Makes Sense of Elections, Politics

Local 1681 member Ryan Wick returned home to Edmonton, Alberta, after a week of classes at the William W. Winpisinger Center, with a renewed appreciation of the value of collective bargaining and keen understanding of how politics and elections impact pay, benefits and working conditions.

In an open letter to IAM members, Wick makes note of the negative campaign tactics that are now common throughout North America and advises fellow members to look beyond smear campaigns, wedge issues and traditional stereotypes.

“I am not saying these issues can’t matter to people but if I have to weigh the option between a same sex couple getting married or having Canadian jobs outsourced to other countries, I know where my priority is,” says Wick, who admitted his vote in the past was often based on how friends voted. “I have since realized that wasn’t the best judgment.”

The astute Wick also urges members to weigh candidates on the basis of their record of support for labor issues, which are available for Canada politicians and for U.S. politicians.  

California VA Nurses Win Six-Figure Settlement

Thirty-nine members of NFFE-IAM Federal Local 1, who are employed as nurses at the San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center, recently received back pay checks of up to $10,000 for underpayments made to them between 2000 and 2006.

The outcome is the result of a settlement reached between the VA and NFFE-IAM Federal Local 1. VA management and the union bargained over the disputed pay for 20 months since the original grievance was filed.

The errors occurred when nurses working weekend shifts were not fully compensated with premium pay rate for the hours they worked. Nurses at the San Francisco VA earn an additional 25 percent on top of their normal rate for weekend shifts.

“We are so happy to reach this settlement for our nurses,” said Patricia La Sala, President of NFFE-IAM Federal Local 1. “They earned this money. It is only fair that they get paid for it.”

Successful labor-management relations are a hallmark of the San Francisco VA facility. In 2007, the San Francisco VA and NFFE Local 1 received the Department of Veteran Affairs Award for Labor Management Relations.

“This is a great example of labor-management relations working at its best,” said La Sala. “This is going to be great for the morale of the workers at the San Francisco VA.”