iMail for Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NFFE-IAM Mourns Fallen Firefighters
Four Forest Service workers died last Thursday while fighting a fire in the San Bernardino National Forest in California. Killed were Mark Loutzenhiser, 44, the Engine Captain, and three members of NFFE-IAM Local 1558; Jason McKay, 27; Jess McLean, 27; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20. A fourth NFFE-IAM member, Pablo Cerda, 23, remains in critical condition.

“We are deeply saddened to learn that our brothers in the Forest Service lost their lives in the line of duty,” said Rick Brown, President and DBR of Federal District 1. “These men died heroically, protecting the lives of California citizens. It demonstrates the tremendous sacrifice Forest Service workers make every day when they put their lives on the line to protect us,” said Brown.

Vigils have been held at several churches and fire stations for Cerda, who underwent surgery Friday, and to pray for the families of the fallen firefighters.

“Our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and co-workers of the men who died,” said Government Employees Director Frank Carelli, “and our prayers also go out to Brother Cerda during this critical time.”

The blaze, believed to be arson, turned deadly when fast-moving winds shifted suddenly, consuming the crew. By yesterday, the winds had all but disappeared, and officials reported the fire fully contained as of last night, having burned about 63 square miles.

Labor’s Election Efforts in Final Stretch
With just seven days left before the November 7 election, union members across the country are going into high gear to educate union households on candidates and issues in this critical mid-term election.
Phone banks, visits to union households and face-to-face discussions at the work site are all part of Labor 2006, the massive Voter Education and Get-Out-the-Vote drive by the AFL-CIO and partner unions. IAM members are playing a key role in the coast-to-coast effort.

“IAM members are doing their part,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “But we need even more members to pitch in and make one last effort between now and November 7. Volunteering just a few hours can make a huge difference. Be part of history on November 7, get involved today and make your voice heard.”

Volunteer at your local lodge or click here to find an AFL-CIO Labor 2006 event in your area.

Bush Names Mine Manager to Lead Safety Board
President Bush used a recess appointment ploy to thwart two Senate rejections of Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). More than 40 coal miners have lost their lives this year alone, yet President Bush insisted on Stickler, a coal industry executive with a poor record of operating mines safely. Between 1989 and 1996, mines managed by Stickler incurred injury rates double the national average.

“It’s truly disappointing that President Bush passed up this opportunity to send a message to America’s coal miners that he cares about their health and well being by appointing someone who would put safety first,” said Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts. “He has instead sent a very different message … that the companies are in charge of mine safety in America, not the safety professionals.”

Everything but the Kitchen Sink
Voters in key states should prepare for waves of negative advertising as struggling candidates and political parties attempt to drive their supporters into the voting booth on November 7, Election Day.

“It’s no surprise to see these ‘fear and smear’ campaigns in the final days,” said IAM Legislative Director Tom Trotter. “The GOP is stooping to new lows because they know they can’t win on working family issues or their failed record of governing this country.”

Midterm elections generally draw far less participation than elections with a presidential choice on the ballot. Despite polls that indicate double-digit differences in some races, the outcome of many such contests is frequently decided by a handful of votes. “That’s where a strong turnout by union households has a tremendous impact,” said Trotter. “No matter what the polls say, every vote counts.”

 

ICFTU Becomes Part of New Trade Union International
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) is holding their last Congress in Vienna today, a Dissolution Congress. Implementing their decision of the 2004 Congress to strengthen the international union movement, the ICFTU is closing its doors to join a new trade union international:  the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.

The new ITUC will convene its Founding Congress tomorrow, November 1. Its membership will include ICFTU’s affiliated organizations, those of the World Confederation of Labour and eight other unaffiliated organizations. One-thousand delegates representing 190 million members from 150 countries will take part in the Founding Congress of the new trade union international.

The ICFTU was founded in 1949 to link together trade unions worldwide. The ICFTU has been a leader in directing campaigns on the eradication of forced and child labor, education programs for trade unionists, encouraging the organization of young workers, and sending missions to investigate trade union situations in many countries.

“It is with great pride that we say goodbye to an organization that for the last 57 years has fought for the liberty and well-being of workers worldwide,” stated General Secretary Guy Ryder. “In that time, the world has changed many times over and in many different ways. The founding of the ITUC is an acknowledgement by trade unions of these changes, but the strong tradition of solidarity will continue,” Ryder concluded.

Sandi Briggs Named Democratic Woman of the Year
Sandi Briggs, spouse of Grand Lodge Representative Raymond Briggs, was named Democratic Woman of the Year for Ashland County, Ohio. Ms. Briggs has been a Democratic activist in the Eastern Territory for many years, always going the extra mile to help working families. “Congratulations on a well-deserved award. Anyone who has attended a State Council, Staff Conference, MNPL drive, or Guide Dogs of America fundraiser has seen Sandi’s dedication,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr.

The IAM encourages all members and their families to become active in politics on the local, state, and federal level. “Remember, no matter how well your union negotiates a contract, it can be wiped out by a single stroke of a politician’s pen,” said Tucker.