iMail for Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Local 1943 Members Reject AK Steel Offer

In a day-long vote, locked out members of AEIF-IAM Local 1943 in Middletown, OH voted to reject vaguely worded outsourcing and back-to-work terms contained in a “final offer” from AK Steel Corp.

The company presented the 2-inch thick document three days earlier, angering the locked out workforce by setting a deadline of midnight Monday for a decision.

While the proposal included the IAM National Pension Plan, a key issue for members, the company would have “the absolute right, in its sole discretion, and without any bargaining requirement, to withdraw from the Machinists plan at any time in the first five years,” and substitute a 401K plan.

Members also objected to the company’s proposed back-to-work terms calling for a 6-month period in which the membership would be required to work with replacement workers currently operating the facility.

NMB Election for Fleet Workers at Gulfstream

The National Mediation Board (NMB) announced a secret ballot election will be held to determine IAM representation for 117 Fleet Service workers employed by Gulfstream International Airlines, Inc. The board called for an election following an investigation that determined a sufficient number of the Fleet workers had signed authorization cards seeking IAM representation.

The Fleet workers, who are currently unrepresented, are hoping to join the Flight Attendants at Gulfstream, who voted in July to join the IAM. Key issues for both groups are pensions, job security, wages and professional representation.

Gulfstream International, serving 12 Florida destinations and 10 locations in the Bahamas, is one of the fastest growing regional air carriers in the United States and is ranked the 4th largest regional carrier in terms of passengers flown. Gulfstream operates as a code share partner of Continental Airlines, United Airlines and Northwest Airlines.

Congress Votes for 10 More C-17s

IAM members from coast to coast welcomed news that House and Senate negotiators agreed last week to add funds for 10 additional Boeing C-17 aircraft to a defense appropriations bill.

Boeing’s recent announcement that it might end production on its C-17 military cargo aircraft lines after mid-2009 could affect more than 5,500 jobs in California, Missouri, Georgia, Kansas and Arizona. About 700 companies in 42 states provide parts and services for the C-17 program and employ about 25,000 workers nationwide. Boeing officials had already sent letters to suppliers to start shutting down production of subassemblies.

“The C-17 is one of the most successful military aircraft programs ever. Congress should fund more C-17 production to ensure we have the planes, the people and the means to build them,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “We must not let the production skills in this crucial aerospace capacity be disbanded.”

IAM members and representatives lobbied hard for the additional funding, which is expected to keep the C-17 assembly lines open through 2009.

Pentagon Ponders NSPS Delay

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said last week the Pentagon may ask Congress to extend a critical 2009 deadline involving the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), the controversial labor relations system that would severely limit collective bargaining rights for more than 600,000 civilian employees.

Under terms of the legislation that created NSPS, a sunset clause could cause the system to be scrapped if Congress does not reauthorize it before 2009. Extending the deadline would allow the NSPS program to remain intact pending government appeals of legal challenges by unions and opposition from lawmakers.

Congress authorized NSPS in 2003 to give federal agencies the flexibility to respond to legitimate national security issues, however, the system was quickly hijacked by Bush administration officials hoping to use the rulemaking process to eviscerate the power and authority of unions representing federal workers.

Earlier this year, the IAM and a coalition of government workers unions sued to block implementation of NSPS terms that allowed government officials to override collective bargaining agreements after they had been negotiated and implemented. In April, a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed and said the NSPS system did not provide employees with true collective bargaining.

IAM Wins Third America West Group

The National Mediation Board (NMB) certified the IAM as the collective bargaining representative for all Stock Clerks at US Airways. The NMB action was necessary after the merger of US Airways and America West and a failed attempt by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who represented America West Stock Clerks, to represent the combined group.

The Stock Clerk certification is the third certification the IAM has won at the newly-combined airline, totaling 4,200 new IAM members. Negotiations are underway for transition agreements for both the Mechanic & Related and Fleet Service groups, and t here will be a Stock Clerk committee established to negotiate their transition issues.

IAM Urges Stronger Framework Agreements

The IAM called on the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) to strengthen its International Framework Agreements (IFAs) so that they become more meaningful for workers in North America. IFA’s are agreements between global union federations and multinational corporations that address the issue of corporate social responsibility.

“IFAs represent a unique opportunity to better the lives of workers in North America, and throughout the world, when their own national laws have failed them,” said IAM Director of Trade and Globabalization Owen Herrnstadt, who addressed the IMF symposium today in Frankfurt, Germany.

Herrnsdtadt cautioned the delegates, however, that for IFAs to be effective they must include broad coverage, comprehensive and internationally recognized labor standards, adequate implementation and effective enforcement.