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Executive Council

International President 
R. Thomas Buffenbarger 

Secretary Treasurer
Donald E. Wharton 

GVP Western 
Lee Pearson 

GVP Canada
Dave Ritchie 

GVP Midwest 
Alex M. Bay 

GVP Headquarters
Robert V. Thayer

GVP Southern
George Hooper 

GVP Eastern
Warren L. Mart 

GVP Transportation
Robert Roach, Jr.


Thursday,  January 9, 2003


Auto Mechanics Ratify Contract in Sault Ste. Marie
IAM members of Local Lodge 2332 voted to accept a new contract and end a 16-week strike at five Sault Ste. Marie Auto dealerships.

The Canadian local represents approximately 90 IAM automotive technicians, body shop, parts, garage and clerical workers.

“We hung in there for four months,” said Rod Wismer, president of Local 2332. “We had a common goal and stuck to it until the needs of the entire membership were addressed.”

The union win included broad community support. “We went to the community with our message in radio spots and full page ads in the local paper,” said GVP Dave Ritchie. “It was the best way to make sure the community heard our side of the story.”

Members ratified the accord by more than 80 percent after the dealership agreed to guarantee weekly wages and full retroactive pay to the expiration date of the previous contact.

No News is Good News?
The Bush administration flacks came up with an innovative way to brighten the dismal news spun out by a sagging economy. Their solution is simple. If the news is bad, don’t report it.

On Christmas Eve, the administration announced it would no longer issue public reports on mass layoffs and plant closings. The monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics’ analysts detail every layoff of more than 50 workers and the type of industry involved. The final 2002 report in November noted 2,150 mass layoffs and about 240,000 workers who lost their jobs. Most of those workers were in the manufacturing sector.

In a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) asked why the program was cancelled. “At a time when thousands of men and women are losing their jobs and are unable to find new ones, policymakers and the public need to know where mass layoffs are occurring and who is being affected by them,” said Miller.

State officials said the monthly reports were crucial in helping them plan and fund their dislocated worker programs and services.

“This one really takes the cake,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “What a novel approach to unemployment: stop the layoff reports, let the layoffs continue. Is this what ‘compassionate conservatism’ is all about?”

Union Victories Increased in 2002
Figures just released by the Bureau of National Affairs show an increase in the number of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representational victories won by unions, with the number of elections remaining about the same.

Of the 1,215 elections held in the first six months of 2002, unions won 967, an increase of 33 wins compared to the same period in 2001.

The data shows a steady increases in union win rates, with a jump from 48.1 percent in 1996 to a win rate of 53.6 percent in 2001.

Prescription Drug Benefit Tops Alliance Agenda
Prescription drug legislation remains high on the list of unfinished business facing Congress in this session. The Alliance for Retired Americans says Congress must enact a universal, comprehensive drug plan under Medicare.

Unfortunately, Congress is expected to dredge up a totally inadequate version of a discredited measure that passed the House during the last session. “This bill has no guaranteed benefits or premiums and includes a huge coverage gap,” warns George J. Kourpias, Alliance president. “It is nothing more than a payoff to the pharmaceutical industry and private insurance companies who spent millions of dollars to elect their allies to Congress,” Kourpias added.

Also, the prescription drug measure may be wrapped into a major revamping of the Medicare program that will force older men and women to leave the traditional fee-for-service program and join a managed-care plan where they will pay more for doctor visits. Kourpias said, “The Alliance is confident that when older Americans are given the complete details of the proposed bill, they will revolt against it. Our job is to make sure they get the information before Congress acts. We also have to ensure that Congress understands what seniors require in a prescription drug plan. A plan that helps a handful of lower-income citizens is not acceptable. Neither is a plan that forces senior citizens out of Medicare.”

Health Care Board Names New Members
Steve Sleigh, IAM Director of Strategic Resources, was named this week to the Board of Directors for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a private, non-profit organization that certifies and accredits a wide range of health care organizations.

Named to serve with Sleigh on the NCQA board was former United States Senator David F. Durenberger, and nationally recognized health care experts Debra L. Ness and William J. Gross.

“I’m thrilled that Steve Sleigh is joining the board,” said Margaret E. Kane, NCQA president. “He is a well-known leader in the field of health care and we welcome his expertise and commitment to improving the quality of care at all levels of the system.”

Howard Dean Receives Wellstone Award
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean will be honored Friday with the inaugural AFL-CIO Paul Wellstone Award for his support of a union organizing drive by nurses at Fletcher Allen Health Care, Vermont’s largest hospital.

Dean, a physician who worked at the hospital before becoming governor, strongly supported the nurses’ organizing drive. Labor leaders were enthusiastic in their praise for Dean, but said the award did not signal an endorsement for Dean’s presidential campaign.

Also receiving the award will be California State Sen. John Burton for his work with that state’s farm workers.


The official site for the 36th Grand Lodge Convention to be held in 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio is now online. Check it our for convention news, sponsorship offers, and convention gear.

The Winners of the 2002 Newsletter & Website Contest and a report for the judges, too.