Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Machinists Rally Iowa Union Members for Clinton

Labor leaders from four of the nation’s largest trade unions were joined by former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack for a full day of campaigning in Iowa on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Union members turned out in force for rallies on December 15 in Council Bluffs and Cedar Rapids where IP Tom Buffenbarger delivered a speech urging members to consider a candidate’s seniority among their qualifications to be president.

“We all know about seniority,” said Buffenbarger, who noted that Sen. Clinton had nearly three times the experience in the Senate than her two closest rivals. “And before entering the Senate, Hillary Clinton did the graveyard shift, swing shift and day shift in the White House. Eight years – 2,920 days – in the most intense work site on earth.”

Buffenbarger was joined in Iowa by John Flynn, President of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and Gerald McEntee, President of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Following the rallies in Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs, the unions provided caucus training to ensure members take part and understand Iowa’s unique caucus system.

IAM Members Keep Families Connected at Vance AFB

Being deployed overseas is tough on military families. Parents miss the everyday activities of their children’s lives that other families take for granted. IAM members of Local 898 at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK operate the Base Youth Center that provides after-school and daycare support for Vance’s military families. They decided to do something special for parents deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. They found a way to let children videotape their activities and messages to send to far-away parents who get to see their children engaged in daily activities.

The Youth Center staff is part of the large group of IAM members at Vance AFB who run everything from the child-care center to training new pilots.
Local 898 and CSC, Trend Western and M1 companies are part of the IAM’s High Performance Work Organization (HPWO) Partnership program, making it easier for workers, like those at the Youth Center, to implement new ideas.

Wisconsin Workers Win Representation Rights

District 121 in Beaver Dam, WI, recently secured IAM representation rights for 81 production, inspection, maintenance and warehouse workers who manufacture engineered plastic sheeting and other materials at Spartech Plastics in Portage, WI.

“The in-plant organizing team was solid in their commitment to win IAM representation, which resulted in a greater than 2 to 1 vote in favor of joining our union,” said Midwest Territory GLR Steve Nickel. “Our members at Spartech want a voice in the workplace, a safe working environment, better wages, benefits and working conditions.”

Midwest Territory GVP Philip J. Gruber welcomed the new members and thanked everyone involved in the winning effort. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of GLR Steve Nickel, GLR Bob Anderson, GLR Russ Wittkop, DBR Dan Hilbert, ADBR John Rolbiecki along with Apprentice Organizers Jan DeSmidt and Brian Jarvensivu. We congratulate our new members and welcome them into the IAM family.”

District 34 Machinists Salute the Troops

Members of District 34 in Columbus, OH, came through with shining colors recently when asked to participate in a Holiday Care Package Drive for servicemen and women stationed overseas. Their generosity filled 53 large boxes – weighing nearly 3,000 lbs. – all of which will be shipped to our troops overseas.

“Remembering our men and women in uniform is a holiday tradition that goes back many generations,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “I’m extremely proud of the IAM members here who made it their job to send a little bit of home to the troops serving overseas this year. I am certain their generosity will be appreciated.”

The appreciation was echoed by District 34 DBR Mike Hall, who thanked ADBR David Brandenburg, President Chet Ellis and District Communicator Mark Chema, who boxed the donations and helped put the finishing touches on a tremendous effort.

Big Win on Hawaii’s Big Island

A determined group of motor vehicle operators, ammunition handling clerks and warehouse specialists who work at the Pohakuloa Training Area in Hawaii, ignored a fierce anti-union campaign and voted overwhelmingly to join the IAM recently.

Western Territory GLR Maria Santiago-Lillis coordinated the drive and credited union-savvy workers for the win. “There were at least two workers in the group who were experienced stewards,” said Santiago-Lillis. “The solidarity in the group was awesome.”

The workers, who are employed by BAE Systems, have not seen a wage increase in four years and are seeking health insurance and pension improvements in addition to better wages.

“This is a great victory for the workers at BAE and hopefully this will inspire the workers at another BAE unit that Sister Lillis has been working with over the last few months,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “Congratulations to everyone who helped make this victory possible.”

Trade Deficit Jumps to $57 Billion

The U.S. trade deficit rose to $57.8 billion in October, up $700 million from September’s $57.1 billion gap, according to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department. The trade deficit is now up to nearly $587 billion through the first ten months of the year.

The increasing trade deficit was fueled by rising oil prices as well as a record $25.9 billion trade deficit with China. Despite consumer concerns over the safety of Chinese-made products, there was an increase in imports of Chinese toys, games, sporting goods, home electronics, computers and telecommunications equipment. Further highlighting the U.S.’s flawed trade policy, the trade deficit with Mexico reached a new high of $7.5 billion in October.

Bush Denies Millions of Children Health Insurance – Again

President Bush last week denied millions of children health insurance for the second time by vetoing legislation reauthorizing and expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The bill would have expanded the program by $35 billion over the next five years, providing more than ten million low-income children with health insurance.

The Democratic-led Senate passed the legislation by a veto-proof margin, but the House fell just short of the two-thirds majority needed. The House will vote on January 23 whether to override the veto.

Despite broad bi-partisan support, Bush vetoed similar legislation in October. Without reauthorization, however, millions of children are facing a dim outlook. Twenty-one states will run out of money for children’s health insurance in the coming year, according to the Congressional Research Service. Nine of the twenty-one states are expected to exhaust their funds as soon as March, including Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.