iMail for Tuesday October 24, 2006


Wichita Strikers Win at Bombardier

Members of Local 639 in Wichita, KS voted by a 56 percent margin this week to ratify an improved contract offer from Bombardier Aerospace, ending a 22-day strike over pay, pensions and health care benefits.

The new 3-year accord, reached after a 36-hour bargaining session and with help from federal mediators, boosts pay by 11 percent over the life of the agreement and places caps on employee health care premiums. The contract also includes an increase in pensions and a $1,500 signing bonus.

“The substantial improvements in this latest contract offer are a direct result of the efforts of the members who held firm on the picket line and demanded terms that reflected Bombardier’s success over the past several years,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez.

The workers at Bombardier, who build Learjet aircraft, accepted a wage freeze and other concessions in 2002 in exchange for a pledge to keep the Learjet production line in Wichita and a promise to restore cuts when business improved.

“This settlement is a testament not only to the solidarity of IAM members in Wichita, but to the basic value of the collective bargaining process,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, who traveled to Wichita with GST Warren Mart to walk picket lines with members of Local 639. “The vast majority of all contracts are settled without a strike, but this union is fully prepared to support members who decide a strike is necessary to win a fair contract.”

Local 639 members voted 80 percent to strike Bombardier after rejecting an initial offer from the company that allowed for unlimited increases in health care costs. It was the first strike by IAM members at Bombardier’s Wichita facility.

“I want to also thank our hard-working negotiating committee, members of the community and the federal mediators for their help in resolving this dispute,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge. “But in the end, it was the members themselves who won a better contract for themselves and their fellow employees.”

 

Ted Strickland Addresses Ohio State Council of Machinists

Delegates at the Ohio State Council of Machinists meeting held in Columbus over the weekend heard words of hope and appreciation from democratic gubernatorial candidate and current U.S. Representative Ted Strickland (pictured at left).

Strickland, who has a long history of standing up for union members and their families, thanked the group for their support of his effort to take back the Ohio governorship from a party who seems at war with the working men and women of this country.

Charles Brown was also in attendance and spoke on behalf of his brother, U.S. Representative Sherrod Brown. Brown, running against a two-term GOP Senator, is a long-time fighter against NAFTA and similar trade agreements. In fact, he has one of the strongest fair-trade records in Congress.

IP Tom Buffenbarger, GST Warren Mart and Eastern GVP Lynn Tucker were there to reaffirm the IAM’s support for both Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown and to reiterate the importance of getting our message out, especially now in the final weeks before the election.

“This is it,” said IP Buffenbarger. “We have opportunities across this country that we haven’t seen in years. It’s up to us to seize the moment to ensure victory at the polls on November 7. Not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren… for all working men and women and their families. It’s time to take back Congress!”

For more information about candidates in your area and voter registration information, go to the “Who’s Got the JUICE” section of www.goiam.org.

 

Wal-Mart Workers Win Wage Claim

About170,000 Wal-Mart employees in Pennsylvania have been awarded $78.47 million after a state court jury ruled the corporate giant failed to compensate them for off-the-clock work and missed breaks.

Damages for the class action suit filed on behalf of all current and former hourly Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania since March 19, 1998, included nearly $2.5 million for off-the-clock work and $76 million for lost breaks.

The employees are also considering asking the judge to approve an additional $62 million in liquidated damages because Wal-Mart acted willfully and in bad faith.

AFL-CIO Appeals Kentucky River Ruling

The AFL-CIO filed a protest with the International Labor Organization (ILO), a branch of the United Nations, over the National Labor Relations Board’s recent rulings in Oakwood Healthcare Inc. and two other cases that collectively have come to be known as the “Kentucky River” cases.

The complaint, filed with the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association, asserts that the Bush-appointed majority on the NLRB set out “a new, expanded interpretation” of the definition of supervisor, opening the door for up to 8 million workers, including nurses, building trades workers, newspaper and television employees and others, to be barred from legal protection to join unions.

“Through these decisions, the Bush administration has stripped millions of America’s working people of a fundamental human right recognized all over the globe – the freedom to bargain collectively and have a voice on the job,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

The AFL-CIO, in its announcement of the filing of the complaint, stated that “although the ILO committee does not have enforcement power to change national labor laws, the AFL-CIO asked the body to add its ‘authoritative voice and moral weight in the international community’ to form a movement for legislation to restore the traditional, more balanced test for supervisory status, limiting it to genuine supervisors and managers.”

The complaint also asks the ILO to send a delegation to the United States to investigate the effects of the NLRB’s decision.

 

Top Economists Urge Minimum Wage Boost

More than 600 leading U.S. economists are urging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for nearly a decade.

The economists, including five Nobel Prize winners, signed a policy statement from the Economic Policy Institute calling for a “modest” increase in the minimum wage.

The economists said they believe the proposed phased-in increase in the federal minimum wage to $7.25 in the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005 “falls well within the range of options where the benefits to the labor market, workers, and the overall economy would be positive.”

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have already raised their minimum wage above the federal level. With several other states considering similar measures, the statement also endorses increases in the state minimum wage in the range of $1.00 to $2.50 an hour, while simultaneously indexing to protect against inflation.

Earlier this year, House Republicans blocked an increase in the federal minimum wage when they were unable to attach yet another tax break for the country’s wealthiest families.

District 837 Honors Half Century Members

 More than 200 men and women from District 837 in St. Louis, MO showed up at the Machinists Hall to celebrate 50 (pictured left) and 55 (pictured below) years of continuous service with the IAM. Their pride radiated throughout the special banquet as they met up with old friends, made a few new ones, and reminisced about old times.

These special IAM members  set the pace in the aerospace industry for over a half a century. Many worked on the Mercury Space Program that put the first US man in space.

Others talked about the Mac-built Voodoo, Demon, Phantom, Eagle, and Hornet fighter planes that were used to protect our nation in time of war. The fighters, spaceships, and weapons built by these Machinists were all cutting-edge technology in their time.

“On behalf of the District and Local Lodge staff, our members, and a grateful nation, I want to thank you for your service,” said District President Rick Smith. “If it was not for the sacrifices you made in the strikes of the 1960’s, 1975, and 1996, we would not be in the position we are today. When called upon to serve your Union, you stood tall, shoulder to shoulder, and did what needed to be done.

Our lives, our Union, our families, and our nation are better off because of you.”

 

New Brunswick Local Ratifies Pact with Lounsbury Limited

Members of Local 2418 in Miramichi, New Brunswick have ratified a new collective agreement with Lounsbury Limited.
The new three-year agreement, ratified by a margin of 90 percent, provides a total wage increase of six percent.

The agreement also includes general wage lifts of 35 cents per hour for technicians and 50 cents per hour over the current wage scale for Shuttle Bus drivers and lot attendants. Parts department workers will maintain their negotiated bonus system. Language was also improved regarding gain time and Labour-Management Joint Health and Safety Committee meetings.

The 20 members of Local 2418 employed by Lounsbury consist of automotive mechanics, technicians, service advisors, drivers, lot attendants and stores clerks. More than 40 members of LL 2418 are employed in auto sales and services at dealerships in the Bathurst-Miramichi area.

 

Calls Mailed for Advanced Editor and Basic Web Classes

The official calls for the IAM Communications Department’s Advanced Editors class, to be held February 4-9, 2007, and Basic Web Development, to be held March 18-26, 2007, at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Placid Harbor, MD has been sent to all district and local lodges. The Advanced Editors course offers intensive training on news writing, research and other skills. The Basic Web Development course offers training on starting and maintaining lodge websites. Go to the IAM Communications Department page on www.goiam.org for course descriptions, requirements and copies of the call and application forms or call 301-967-4520.