iMail for Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Machinists to Protest at Northwest-Delta Shareholder Meetings

Members of District 143 will protest the proposed Northwest-Delta merger at both airlines’ shareholders meetings in New York and Atlanta on September 25. The protests are the latest move in the IAM campaign to block the proposed mega-merger, which will lead to enormous debt for the combined carrier, lost jobs for employees and further cuts in service.

Shareholders of Delta and Northwest will be voting on the proposed merger at the New York and Atlanta meetings.

“We believe this transaction poses serious risk for investors of both Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines and will harm long-term shareholder value,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., who also spoke with a corporate governance blog about the union’s opposition. “Airline mergers have a checkered past and we believe this merger is emblematic of the flawed logic of consolidation presently being pushed by industry lobbyists and executives.”

IAM President Tom Buffenbarger sent two letters to the airlines’ shareholders raising several concerns regarding the combination, citing the impact to consumers by higher fares and poor customer service, questionable cost synergies, termination of pension and health benefits for Northwest workers and management’s understating of the significant challenges involved in integrating the two large carriers.

More information about the upcoming demonstrations in New York and Atlanta is available at

TCU Member Killed in Los Angeles MTA Crash

Donna Lynn Remata, a 21-year member of TCU Local 1315 employed by the Los Angeles MTA, was among the passengers killed in the tragic collision of a commuter Metrolink train and a Union Pacific freight train on September 12, 2008.  Remata was returning from her job to her home in Simi Valley. In just a month, on October 13, Sister Remata would have celebrated her 50th birthday.

“She was a TCU member I trained eight years ago for the storekeeper position that she held” in the Gateway Tower’s Stationery office, said Darryl Henderson. “She was a pleasure to work with and my condolences go out to her family.” A decorative box has been placed near Remata’s desk where other employees can put notes and cards with their memories of their co-worker and condolences for her family.

Remata leaves behind her husband, Larry, and two children, 17-year-old Tiffany and 18-year-old Larry II; parents Evelyn and Tony Nieves of Henderson, NV; and three sisters, Debra, Terri and Jo Ann Nieves.

Click here for details on memorial and funeral services this week.

A Few Choice Words for the Next President

To the New President and Congress: “I urge you to enact the Employee Free Choice Act immediately. This crucial legislation will protect workers’ freedom to choose a union and bargain without management intimidation. Allowing more workers to freely join unions and bargain with their employers will help rebuild the middle class by expanding health care, improving retirement security and raising the standard of living for America’s working families. My bargaining rights are worth working for and voting for!”

That’s the message on pre-printed postcards that are part of an AFL-CIO effort to gather at least one million signatures on a petition urging the next president to sign the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) without delay.

The EFCA (H.R. 800, S. 1041) is a top legislative priority for U.S. labor unions and would level the playing field for workers and employers and help rebuild America’s middle class. It would establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations and provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes. Most importantly, the Act would allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.

Union Plus Success Stories

Two IAM members are among 13 union activists who will receive financial scholarships as part of the Union Plus Leaders of the Future Scholarship program. Victoria Cheek of Local 846 in Baltimore, MD, and Jeffrey Hartley of Local 946 in Rancho Cordova, CA, will each receive a one-time cash award of $3,000 to help with the cost of continuing their education.

Victoria Cheek is a long-time IAM activist who has served as a negotiator, organizer, shop steward, newsletter editor and member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). One of the first female activists in her local lodge, Victoria has also taken part in the FTAA Rally in Miami, the WTO Rally in Seattle and the IAM Day of Action in Washington, D.C. Her scholarship will be used to help reach her goal of a BA in Labor Studies and Union Administration at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, MD.

Jeffrey Hartley will use his scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in Union Leadership and Administration at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. Hartley has served as vice president and communicator for his local in addition to writing a grievance manual that will be used for steward training at his local.

Applicants for the Union Plus scholarship are evaluated according to leadership potential, career goals, social awareness and financial need.

Kawneer Employees in Illinois go IAM

District 8 in Burr Ridge, IL brought eight new members into the IAM recently by organizing production and maintenance workers at the Kawneer Company in Itasca, IL. Kawneer is a subsidiary of Alcoa and manufactures architectural building products and systems.

“This group is determined to get the security that an IAM contract brings,” said Lead Organizer Special Representative Jorge Saenz. “They want better wages benefits and working conditions.”

IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber thanked everyone involved in the campaign. “SR Jorge Saenz, GLR Steve Nickel and District 8 Organizer Victor Pineda worked tirelessly along with a solid committee at Kawneer to bring about this win.  We welcome our new members into the IAM family.”

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