iMail for Tuesday, September 19, 2006

 

IAM Historical Treasures Found in Attic

What Christina Carter found in the attic of the house her grandfather built is a treasure-trove of IAM history. Buried under generations of keepsakes were items belonging to Carter’s great-grandfather, Peter J. Conlon, a pioneer and builder of the IAM.

“I just couldn’t throw the artifacts away,” explained history-lover Carter. “I wanted to pass them on to people who would appreciate what they were.” That’s when she contacted the IAM.

Among the riches are souvenir convention journals; volumes of the early IAM Journal; pictures dating back to the 1899 Grand Lodge Convention; election posters; and three generations of IAM dues books belonging to her father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

It’s been said of Pete, who became an IAM member just nine months after its founding, that if a shop wasn’t organized when he got there, it was when he left. “What Chris Carter and her family have donated is a wonderful reminder of our hard-fought past,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “When we remember great warriors like Pete Conlon, an original ‘Boomer’ who traveled the railways to organize workers when working conditions and labor laws were deplorable, it encourages us for the future.”

The IAM Archivist at Georgia State University was excited to hear of the newly-found relics. They will be added to the IAM collection (http://www.library.gsu.edu/spcoll/labor/iam) where they will be preserved for future generations.

IAM Bike Build to Benefit Guide Dogs of America

The IAMAW Bike Build, a unique fundraiser that allows visitors to track the progress of a custom bike being built and then enter to win it, is underway in an effort to raise money for Guide Dogs of America.

IAM District 26 members Ron and Chuck Wendt of Rowe Machine in Wallingford, CT are performing most of the work on the bike. Members of IAM Local Lodges 700 and 1746 in Connecticut are also assisting in various phases of the fabrication and “mock-up” of the build.

The bike itself is a Pro-Street style soft-tail design. The wheels are custom one-off billet cut by Rowe Machine and the design is top secret until the finished bike is revealed.

The bike build came about through the efforts of the IAMAW, Celebrity Build TV and Guide Dogs of America to create a unique and exciting fundraiser. All proceeds from the fundraising effort will go directly to Guide Dogs of America and their mission to provide professionally-trained guide dogs to blind and visually impaired individuals at no cost.

You can track the progress of the bike and learn more about the IAMAW Bike Build at http://iamawbikebuild.com/.

Brunswick Throws Muskegon a Gutter Ball

Muskegon, Michigan was known as the “bowling equipment capital of the world,” but not anymore. Today, the capital is probably Reynosa, Mexico.

Last Friday marked the end of an era when Local Lodge 1813 members made the last finished bowling balls at the Brunswick Corp., plant. With bowling pin, pinsetter and electronic scoring machine production already gone, Brunswick eliminated 110 more jobs with plans to move them to Mexico.

For 100 years, Brunswick produced bowling equipment in Muskegon, moving its billiards and bowling manufacturing unit out of Chicago in 1906. At its peak, Brunswick employed some 2,700 workers. Over the years, the plant also produced tires, phonographs, radios, records, bar fixtures, soda fountains, school furniture, toilet seats and more.

“They made a little bit of everything down at the plant,” retired IAM Business Rep Chet Doom told the Muskegon Chronicle. Chet, who began working at Brunswick in 1954, said pulling manufacturing out of Muskegon is abandoning “the responsibility and loyalty to the workers and the community.”

”Brunswick will continue to have its marketing, finance, development and warehousing operation in Muskegon, with the IAM representing approximately 30 of those employees, according to District 60 Business Rep Pete Jazdzyk. Members losing their jobs will receive a negotiated severance package, in addition to trade adjustment assistance from the federal government.

Judge Must Re-examine Mine Explosion Case

After 13 miners died in 2001 in explosions at the Jim Walter Resources mine in Alabama, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was called to investigate. What they found warranted the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue safety orders and propose fines of $110,000 against the mine operator.

Shockingly, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) David Barbour reduced that penalty to $3,000. MSHA vacated his decision, however, and sent the case back to the judge for an explanation of why he drastically reduced the fines, especially considering the gravity of the violations.

“Although one cannot put a price tag on human life, the reduction of fines… defied even the most basic elements of decency and common sense,” said United Mine Workers President Cecil E. Roberts. The UMW is a party to the case. “Now that the Commission agrees with our position, we hope that the fines will be significantly increased,” said Roberts.

The tragedy has evoked some change for the better. New regulations have been instituted to encourage greater mine-operator compliance with MSHA’s standards to improve miners’ safety and health. And, to encourage mine operators even further, MSHA has proposed increases in its civil penalty assessments.