iMail for Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Machinists Support UAW Strikers at General Motors

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) joins with all of organized labor in supporting the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against General Motors. “Their fight is our fight,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger.

“Job security is a paramount issue for all American workers. We simply cannot continue to ship our jobs and our children’s future overseas,” added Buffenbarger. “As new cars, trucks and automotive parts come on line in the years ahead, those jobs need to stay here in the United States. They need to be union jobs.

“We will support this strike because these are jobs worth fighting for. Saving American manufacturing jobs is a fight no one can back away from,” said Buffenbarger.


IAM Backs New Bankruptcy Legislation

The IAM joined with key lawmakers, the AFL-CIO and other unions at the U.S. Capitol to support the Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act of 2007.

“Our airline members have endured tremendous hardships because of the unfair advantage enjoyed by companies in bankruptcy,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “This legislation will ensure labor contract issues, including pensions, will remain a matter of collective bargaining, even when a company is in bankruptcy.”

The legislation is being introduced by U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), U.S. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Chair of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Current bankruptcy laws were used to extract $8.5 billion from IAM members in the airline industry since 2001. 

“While workers made the sacrifices, the airline executives responsible for the bankruptcies rewarded themselves with multi-million dollar bonuses,” said Roach. “Bankruptcy cannot be used as a tool to destroy workers’ lives and stuff executives’ pockets.”


FAA Bill Opens Doors for FedEx Workers

The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted 267-151 to approve the massive $68 billion bill to finance Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operations over the next four years. The FAA reauthorization bill (HR 2881) also contains language championed by the IAM that would dramatically increase the opportunity for FedEx workers to organize a union.

The “Express Carrier Employee Protection” language in the House legislation would allow FedEx workers to organize under National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) guidelines, rather than the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which prevents local organizing efforts. For more than a decade, nearly all FedEx workers have been classified as aviation employees, regardless of what work they do for the package delivery giant.

“This legislation is the result of years of work and a major step forward in our fight to give FedEx workers the right to organize,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “It will also level the playing field among the large package delivery companies and eliminate the unfair advantage FedEx has enjoyed for so long.”

The next battle will come as the legislation moves to the Senate, where anti-union forces are certain to oppose any restoration of collective bargaining rights for FedEx employees. “Now is the time to let Senators know how you feel about special favors for large corporations at the expense of workers whose rights have been denied for too long,” said Buffenbarger.

Click here to urge your Senators to insist the “Express Carrier Employee Protection” language is contained in the Senate version of the FAA legislation.


Kentucky Machinists Raise $16,500 for GDA

A pair of fundraisers netted more than $16,000 for Guide Dogs of America (GDA) during the recent three-day meeting of the Kentucky State Council of Machinists at District 154 in Calvert City, Kentucky. IP Tom Buffenbarger, GST Warren Mart, Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski and Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez joined with dozens of IAM members for a skeet shoot and golf scramble to benefit the Sylmar, CA-based GDA, which trains and provides guide dogs, free of charge, to blind and visually impaired men and women in the United States and Canada.

Delegates at the meeting also heard from IAM Assistant Legislative & Political Director Rick de la Fuente, who urged support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear, who is seeking to unseat GOP governor Ernie Fletcher. Often called the most anti-union governor in the state’s history, Fletcher eliminated collective bargaining rights for thousands of Kentucky state workers and promoted “right to work” (for less) legislation in Kentucky.


Ortis Named to Lead Florida League of Cities

Pembroke Pines Mayor and retired IAM member Frank Ortis began a one-year term as president of the Florida League of Cities (FLC) recently. Established to serve the needs of Florida’s municipal officials, the league is the official organization of the 412 municipal governments in Florida. 

As mayor of Pembroke Pines, Ortis leads the second largest city in Broward County and the ninth largest municipality in Florida. Pembroke Pines was designated an All America City by the National Civic League, and Ortis was named the 2006 Mayor of the Year by the FLC Cities of Excellence Awards program last November.

Mayor Ortis has been very active with the FLC, serving on many committees and on the board of directors.  He has served on the League’s Federal Action Strike Team—a select group of municipal officials that advocate city issues at the federal level – the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust and the Florida Municipal Investment Trust. He is also a past president of the Broward County League of Cities.


Do Insurance Companies Make You Sick?

As the House and Senate debate whether to end large taxpayer subsidies to private insurance companies who run Medicare Advantage plans, a recent article ( in the Washington Post underscores the tremendous power of the health insurance lobby on Capitol Hill.

On August 1, the House voted to strip $50 billion over five years out of Medicare Advantage, a program in which every person in traditional Medicare pays an additional $2 more per month in premiums to subsidize overpayment to health insurance companies.

However, after intense lobbying from the health insurance industry, the House might soon bow to the Senate and spare the program from any cuts.

Click here to visit the Alliance for Retired Americans and ( send a message to Congress telling them to stand up to the health insurance lobby and stop Medicare Advantage overpayments.

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