Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Boeing Machinists Prepare for Strike

Nearly 27,000 IAM members at Boeing facilities in Kansas, Oregon, California and Washington state are gearing up for a possible strike following a so-called “best and final” offer that failed to meet members’ expectations.

Job security and the use of outside vendors in the workplace remain as major unresolved issues. While strike preparations continue, IAM negotiators stated they are available around the clock to hammer out an acceptable agreement.

Meanwhile, the Boeing Company is facing the prospect of labor board charges over a systematic campaign of interviewing employees in “one on one” meetings about specific contract proposals.

Federal labor law requires employers to bargain exclusively with its employees’ designated union representatives. Surveys or questions aimed at ascertaining employees’ opinions or “bottom lines” on contract proposals during contract negotiations are unlawful.  Such conduct is called “direct dealing” and is strictly prohibited by the National Labor Relations Board.

IAM District 751in Seattle, WA, filed an unfair labor practice complaint charging the Boeing Company with engaging in an illegal strategy to avoid the union and deal directly with employees. Additional information and contract updates are available at www.iam751.org.

Explosion Kills IAM Member in West Virginia

For the second time in less than a month, IAM members are mourning the death of one of their own from an explosion in the workplace. Barry Withrow, a member of Local 636, District 34, died on August 28 in an explosion at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute, WV. A second member was seriously injured in the blast, which sent a fireball hundreds of feet in the air and shattered windows far from the plant.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these members during this very difficult time,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr. “Every effort will be made to determine the cause of this latest explosion and to ensure our members have safe workplaces and every possible protection from tragedies such as this.”

Two IAM members died on July 29 when a storage tank at a paper mill in northern Wisconsin exploded. The causes of both explosions remain under investigation.

Labor Board Proposes Anti-Union Rule Change

In a move that could prevent thousands of Northwest Airlines workers from retaining collective bargaining rights and make it harder for Delta workers to join a union, the National Mediation Board (NMB) is changing the rules for determining union representation in the aftermath of a merger.

Under current procedures, whenever there has been a merger between an unrepresented and a represented group and the represented group has a majority, the NMB has extended the certification of the representative.

The proposed change, which would end the practice of extending certification, signals a deviation from its decades-long precedent without any demonstrated need or justification for such a change. The only effect of such a change is to make it significantly more difficult for employees to maintain their representation after a merger and help keep Delta Air Lines largely non-union. Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy along with Representatives Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and George Miller (D-CA) publicly objected to the NMB’s plan.
IAM members are asked to write your Representative and Senators today and ask them to join with Congressional leaders in rejecting the Board’s anti-worker scheme.

Additionally, you can write to the NMB to ask it to withdraw its flawed proposal.

Guide Dogs in Alabama Make Headlines

The sight of a highly trained guide dog helping a blind person to live a full and independent life is enough to grab anyone’s attention. The sight of IAM members in Alabama supporting the Guide Dogs of America (GDA) was more than enough to warrant a highly favorable article in a local newspaper.

In ‘Guide Dogs of America Brings Freedom to the Blind,’ the Enterprise Ledger in Enterprise, AL, follows the work of Local 2003 member Adam Beasley and Local 2003 retiree Freddie Head, who volunteer their time on behalf of GDA, the organization inspired 60 years ago by a blind IAM member and supported by Machinists ever since.

“This is such an important organization for the sight impaired,” said Beasley. “It gives them the ability to have freedom to walk into grocery or retail stores or to even continue their education and find a job. I can’t think of another thing that would change a person’s life as much as a guide dog would.”

The feature-length article included the history of GDA, contact information for making donations and the tale of one man with allergies who was paired up with a poodle-retriever mix that didn’t shed. “He was matched perfectly,” said Beasley.

Click here for article.

Missouri Member Keeps Family Tradition Alive

Ed Tervol has the benefit of deep roots in the American labor movement. His father was a member of IAM Local 314 for 35 years. His maternal grandfather was a member of the Operating Engineers and his paternal grandfather was a member of UAW.

Hardly a newcomer with 29 years of his own in the labor movement, Ed currently serves his fellow members of Local 778 in Kansas City, MO, as a member of the Executive Board and chairman of the Grievance Committee among his many responsibilities.
In recognition of his ongoing involvement and his recent work to help win passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Ed Tervol was recently named Missouri Labor Leader of the Week. Click here for more information about the award.

Tervol believes that employer intimidation; including captive audience meetings and illegal terminations are major deterrents in organizing campaigns. “We’re trying to pass the Employee Free Choice Act because it has become necessary,” said Tervol. “It will level the playing field for the average worker.”

The Labor 2008 Program in Missouri is also important to Ed and members of his local.  They participate in labor walks, fundraisers and phone banks for local and national candidates. “If we all participate and do the hard work necessary, we will prevail in November,” said the lifelong IAM activist. “It is very important that we turn out our members in November.”