The 2005 Aerospace Conference is underway this week in Tucson, AZ, where more than 100 delegates are developing long-term strategies to deal with the threats, challenges and opportunities that are reshaping their industry.
“Nothing positive happens without a plan,” said Aerospace Coordinator Dick Schneider, who was joined by District 751 President Mark Blondin and District 70 President Steve Rooney to detail the extensive preparations leading up to the latest round of negotiations with the Boeing Company.
“We did not set out to strike this company, but we prepared our members for the possibility,” said Schneider. “We also made extensive plans, in advance, how to successfully conduct and conclude a strike if one became necessary.”
The theme of the conference, “At the Crossroads of Opportunity – Where Do We Take Our Future,” was apparent in every presentation.
“More than ever before, we need to employ strategic planning to our endeavors,” said Conference Chairman and Headquarters GVP Robert V. Thayer, who urged delegates to develop organizing and legislative agendas that would endure beyond a single election cycle or organizing drive.
“We must think strategically and for the long term,” said Thayer.
IP Buffenbarger blasted the global corporate agenda that continues to reveal itself at every bargaining table. “From the way they continue to mistreat employees, retirees and even their own shareholders, we must conclude there is something seriously wrong in this country,” said Buffenbarger.
The delegates also heard extensive presentations from IAM Aerospace Coordinators and local lodge representatives detailing the state of labor relations at individual aerospace companies in the United States and Canada.
While picket lines hold strong from the Puget Sound, to Wichita, to Portland, to Edwards Air Force Base, the District 751 Retiree Club joined picketers in front of Boeing’s old Corporate headquarters. Displaying signs calling for cost of living adjustments for pension plans, the retirees lent their support to striking Boeing workers after a recent club meeting.
Displaying the spirit of life-long “Fighting Machinists,” the retirees relived days on the picket lines fighting for good contracts for today’s Boeing workers. A steady stream of traffic drove by honking horns and flashing a thumbs-up to the retired picketers.
IAM members are responding generously to help victims of Hurricane Katrina by holding clothing drives and fundraisers, helping survivors find jobs and even opening their homes to those who lost everything. “The response has been tremendous,” says IAM Community Services and Retirees Director Maria Cordone.
“We’re still gathering information about our Gulf Coast members, but so far we estimate more than 2,000 IAM members in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have been affected by this disaster.”
“We are mobilizing to help our members and everyone we can in the communities who have been hit hard by this disaster,” said Southern Territory GVP Robert Martinez. “We couldn’t do it without the outpouring of help from fellow IAM members. It is an awesome display of caring and giving from the heart that Katrina survivors will never forget.”
Any IAM member interested in providing housing for a displaced IAM family can contact Community Services and Retirees Department Director Maria Cordone at 301-967-3433. Donations are still being accepted. Checks should be made out to “ IAM Disaster Relief Fund” and mailed to:
IAM Community Services Department
9000 Machinists Place
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772-2687
In a blow to the working men and women who will rebuild parts of the Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush issued an executive order last week suspending a longstanding law that requires federal contractors to pay workers at least the prevailing wages in the area where the work takes place.
By suspending the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, Bush is ensuring booming corporate profits and substandard wages for workers who will be critical in rebuilding areas destroyed by the hurricane.
FEMA, meanwhile, has already began to award no-bid contracts for reconstruction in the areas hit hardest by Katrina, some of whom have close political ties to the White House.
“President Bush wasted no time limiting workers’ wages, but no one in his Administration says a thing about limiting the big corporate profits that the Halliburtons, Bechtels and other big donor companies will make rebuilding the Gulf Coast,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger.
President Bush’s lackluster response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation has led to an all-time low approval rating of just 38 percent, according to a new Newsweek poll.