iMail for Tuesday September 20, 2005

2,000 Poultry Workers Join IAM

More than 2,000 poultry workers in California’s San Joaquin Valley will be joining the IAM after an overwhelming vote for Machinists Union representation at Foster Farms in Livingston, California. The workers were previously represented by an independent union unaffiliated with any other labor organization.

The IAM will immediately begin bargaining on behalf of the workers, who have been without a contract since 2003. A top bargaining goal will be to reinstate weekend overtime pay that the employees had lost. Mandatory union membership will also be a key issue when negotiators head back to the table.

Judge Okays US Airways’ Reorganization Plan

A U.S. bankruptcy judge has confirmed US Airways’ reorganization plan allowing the airline to emerge from bankruptcy and consummate a planned merger with America West in mid-October. The judge also approved a severance plan for 23 US Airways’ executives over union objections led by the IAM.

“This second bankruptcy in three years has been extremely trying for our members at US Airways,” said IAM GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “It is because of the sacrifice and dedication of those members that US Airways is able to emerge from bankruptcy. The IAM hopes that this reorganization is successful.”

Tools for the Trades

The hurricane that tore into New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005 will rank as one of U.S. history’s great disasters, no less devastating than the San Francisco Earthquake and the Great Chicago Fire.

Compounding the tragic loss of lives, homes and entire communities is the destruction of tools, equipment and other means for tradesmen and women to earn their living.

To help these men and women and to give them the means to start rebuilding their lives, the IAM is calling on its members to donate tools that can be distributed to union members who have lost their means to make a living.

Hand tools and portable power tools, in new or nearly new condition, can be collected and sent to IAM Headquarters, where they will be packaged and shipped to union here.

Your donation is urgently needed by men and women who want only the means to help themselves. Tools for the Trades can be mailed or shipped to 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772.

Boeing’s Strike: Go Figure

The latest issue of Business Week  magazine details the fuzzy math used by Boeing executives who insisted on a so-called “last, best” offer that was all but certain to be rejected by the IAM members in Portland, Oregon, Wichita, Kansas and Washington state.

The strike at Boeing, now approaching its third week, is poised to cost the aerospace giant as much as $90 million a month, but could be settled for far less, according to Business Week.

Consumer Confidence Hits ‘Abysmal’ Levels

The University of Michigan’s preliminary index of consumer confidence fell to the lowest point since 1992 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and pushed gasoline prices to a record high, raising concern that Americans may curtail spending.

The widely watched financial barometer fell to 76.9 this month from 89.1 in August, surpassing even the drop following the September 11 attacks in 2001. The decline was the biggest since December 1980.

“These are abysmal numbers, suggesting a deeply pessimistic consumer in the first half of September,” said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York.

Ceremony Honors St. Louis Machinists

Quick thinking Machinists Ed Terneus and Dan Richardson of Local Lodge 837B in St. Louis, Missouri were presented with special jackets last month for their potentially life-saving response when a 1,700 pound F/A-18 SuperHornet wing stand fell on fellow Machinist Keith Schafer in March.

Despite pleading with Terneus and Richardson to let him up, the quick-thinking Machinists forced Schafer to stay on the ground until the Emergency response crew arrived. Schafer had broken his spine both vertically and horizontally with part of the bone compressing several major nerves in a manner that any movement would have resulted in permanent nerve damage.

“If they had not kept me down and calm, my surgeon said at best I would have been paralyzed for life,” said Schafer.

The incident took place at the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia after all three members traveled to the military base to complete the delivery of a Boeing Maintenance Trainer built at the Boeing St. Louis military production facility.

Close to fifty of Terneus and Richardson’s co-workers attended the appreciation ceremony where Schafer, who has recovered most mobility, presented his IAM brothers with several rolls of Lifesavers.