Tuesday,  January 20, 2004

Machinists Celebrate Dr. King's Birthday
The IAM and the AFL-CIO commemorated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with a week of events in Orlando, FL, with delegates from across the county who came to remember and to serve.

Delegates distributed goods to the community, registered new voters and participated in forums designed to strengthen the bonds between labor, community and civil rights activists. Hundreds took part in two Martin Luther King Parades in Orlando and Etonville, FL, the oldest surviving incorporated black municipality in the U.S.

The conference also held an awards ceremony, where the “Eyes on the Prize Awards” went to Sister Teresa McElwee, of the Sister of Notre Dame; Namur

Ezzie Thomas of the Florida Voters’ League; Florida Rep. Corrine Brown and Debra M. Booth, president of the Central Florida AFL-CIO among others.

“Dr. King’s legacy is so important to the labor movement, as well as the country,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “We will never forget Dr. King’s achievement. We meet every year, not just to celebrate, but to remember the fight is not yet over for the principles he stood for.”

Delegates to the King celebration raised $2,500 for striking grocery workers in California.

‘Wall of Shame’ Completes Tour of Iowa
The IAM drive to make “JOBS! Worth Fighting For” the central issue in the 2004 presidential campaign emerged from the Iowa Caucus with strong support from voters, candidates and the national media.

Newspapers, radio stations and television reports carried the story of the 40-foot wall dubbed “George Bush’s Wall of Shame,” which traveled more than 1000 miles across the state to honor jobless workers and to highlight the human toll of unfair trade deals.

Led by IP Buffenbarger and Midwest Territory GVP Jim Brown, the memorial made stops at union events in more than a dozen Iowa cities. “This country owes so much to the men and women whose names are inscribed on this wall,” said IP Buffenbarger. “For them, and nearly 3 million others whose jobs were destroyed since George Bush became president, we will continue to demand accountability from the candidates of both political parties.”

Democratic caucus voters in Iowa propelled Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to a strong first place finish in the opening contest of the 2004 election season, ahead of North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt finished fourth and indicated he would withdraw from the race. “No candidate was stronger on the issues of jobs, trade and respect for America’s workers than Dick Gephardt,” said IP Buffenbarger. “His lifetime of loyalty to the men and women who built this country is truly a badge of honor the other candidates can only aspire to.”

Piedmont, Allegheny to Consolidate Operations
Piedmont and Allegheny Airlines, both wholly owned subsidiaries of US Airways, last week announced plans to integrate the operations of the two commuter airlines by March 31, 2004.

Up to 18 Allegheny Dash-8-100 aircraft would be transferred to Piedmont and the remaining Allegheny aircraft would be parked or disposed of on an accelerated basis beginning on or about March 31, 2004. “This announcement and the company’s intended timeline will no doubt raise many questions among the membership,” said District 141-M President Scotty Ford in a letter to the 210 IAM-represented Piedmont Mechanic & Related, Flight Dispatchers and Stock Clerks.

“You can be certain that the Machinists Union is committed to protecting all our members at Piedmont Airlines.”
IAM Representatives will meet to discuss the ramifications that either a merger or asset acquisition will have on Piedmont members. The Machinists Union does not represent any Allegheny Airlines employees.

Union Members Not Welcome at DOL Forum
When Labor Department Secretary Elaine Chao went to Maine for a “Jobs and Growth Roundtable” to discuss jobs with workers, business and educators, not one member of organized labor was invited. Secretary Chao said she wanted to “showcase the Administration’s High-Growth Job Initiative” and that “this is a great time to talk about jobs because the economy is showing all signs of strong growth.” The DOL had just announced a retraining grant for Bangor-area workers laid off from Biddeford Blankets Co. and Sebago Shoe, Inc.

Not waiting for an invitation, Greater Bangor Area Central Labor Council members Kendal Dunbar (IAM), Chris Tucker (Laborers) and Jack McKay (UNITE) showed up to see what Secretary Chao had to stay. “We tried to walk in but they told us this was by invitation only,” said McKay. Husson college police pushed the group away and across the parking lot. “It calls into question whether it was a real exercise in creating and pursuing policy or whether this was a step on the 2004 campaign trail,” McKay told the Bangor Daily News.

The site of the roundtable was Husson College’s Dyke Center, which was funded by the family of conservative Richard Dyke. Dyke served as state finance director for Bush’s 2000 election.

IAM Members at Oilgear Win First Agreement
After months of tough negotiations, new IAM members at Oilgear in Fremont, NE reached their first labor agreement. The 170 Machinists at Oilgear produce hydraulic pumps. The new three-year agreement includes a solid grievance procedure and seniority clauses, according to IAM District 6 Business Representative Joe Ironside.

The big improvements include solid wage increases in each year of the contract and a good employer contribution into the IAM Pension Plan. Benefits include vacation and leaves of absence. In addition, the contract includes options for MNPL and dues check off.
“I am really proud of the committee,” said Ironside. “This contract was achieved after seven long hard-fought months of negotiations. These guys stuck together to get the wages, benefits and working conditions they deserve.” Ironside also complimented the attorney who negotiated for the company for being professional and straightforward.

AFL-CIO Union Industries Show Set For St. Louis
The AFL-CIO’s Annual Union Industries Show is set for the St. Louis America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri from April 23 through 26, 2004. With more than 300 exhibits equal to four football fields, the show displays products made by U.S. union members. This year’s show, “America At Its Best,” features products and services ranging from union-trained seeing eye dogs to union-made wedding cakes, motorcycles and blue jeans.

Students and job seekers can meet training and apprenticeship coordinators and representatives from dozens of industries. For information about the show, visit www.unionindustriesshow.org.

“The IAM has been a long-time participant in the Union Industries Show and we are proud to work with our local and district lodges and employers to showcase the products our members make and the services they provide,” said IAM Special Assistant Coet Combs who coordinates IAM participation in the show. Local or district lodges who are interested in showcasing their company’s products or services can contact Coet Combs at IAM Headquarters at 301-967-4770.