Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Buffenbarger Blasts Bush, Bogus Congressional Ploys
A feisty crowd of delegates and guests sent waves of applause ricocheting through the hall as IP Tom Buffenbarger flayed the Bush administration and a complacent Congress in a ringing keynote address to the MNPL National Planning Committee, holding its annual meeting in Savannah, GA.

Buffenbarger scoffed at Bush’s “smoke-and-mirrors economic policy” and castigated Congress for acting with unseemly haste to bail out Big Business and the rich, while ignoring jobless workers and the truly needy. He pointed out that Congress speedily found $15 billion for a floundering airline industry in the wake of Sept.11. “But here we are two days after Ground Hog Day and they haven’t come up with one red cent for laid-off airline workers,” he declared.

Bush promised to leave the Social Security trust fund untouched, Buffenbarger explained. “He lied. Bush blew the budget surplus he inherited from Bill Clinton with his massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Now he’s going to sop up the Social Security pensions so many working Americans count on for their retirement years.”

On another front, he demanded that Congress keep it hands off the contentious negotiations impasse at United Airlines, where Bush invoked a Presidential Emergency Board to thwart the bargaining process.

“Our members at United have every right to determine their fate. Let our members and UAL management settle that contract, not Congress,” he emphasized.

He praised the delegates for their dedication to the fight for social justice and economic security for workers, adding: “It is time to make serious changes. It is time to elect a Congress that cares more about working families than it does about Big Business. We can make that happen. Indeed, we must make that happen.”

Rich Michalski, legislative/political affairs director, said IAM members raised nearly $2.8 million in voluntary contributions last year, just a fraction less than the record $3.1 million in 2000, a presidential election year when political interests are much higher.

Harley Members Ratify New Agreement
Kansas City IAM members who make the country’s most famous motorcycles voted to accept a 5 ˝ year contract proposal, giving workers and the legendary company a degree of stability that is unusual in the current economy.

“The new contract increases wages, benefits and health insurance for union members in Kansas City,” said Jim Pinto, IAM Director of Collective Bargaining. “We also continued our agreement that put into place the High Performance Work Organization, in which many decisions to run the business are made by consensus of both parties.”

Nearly 720 workers are covered by the pact, including IAM members of Local Lodge 176 and members of Local 5-0760 of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE).

The long-term deal was reached even though two years remain on the union’s current contracts. Harley Davidson will now focus on expanding facilities in Tomahawk and York, PA as part of plans to boost overall production.

Call goes out for 2002 IAM Aerospace Conference
The 2002 IAM Aerospace Conference will be held May 4-9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Seattle, Washington. The Conference will focus on new ways of building a stronger domestic aerospace industry, with expanding union employment, greater job security and better conditions in the globalized economy.

To obtain the special Conference hotel rate of $139.00 a-night room rate (single or double occupancy), make reservations directly with the Crowne Plaza by calling 800-521-2762 or 206-464-1980. You must tell the hotel you are attending the IAM Aerospace Conference and make your reservations no later than March 29.

Conference registration will take place Saturday, May 4, noon – 6 p.m. and May 5, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m., when GVP Robert Thayer opens the first session.  The Conference will close at noon Thursday. Registration is $65.00, which includes a buffet dinner and entertainment Monday evening at Tillicum Village, a Native American cultural center. (Guest tickets for that event are $25.)

Locals and Districts are responsible for all delegate expenses, including registration fees. Delegates will participate in corporate-wide meetings, according to their employer: Boeing; Lockheed Martin; Jet Engines and Raytheon; Light Aircraft and All Others.

The all-union Metropolitan Travel Agency is prepared to handle air travel arrangements for all IAM Lodges who desire their services. Call 800-662-6363 at least 30 days before your departure date to receive the least expensive fares.  

Judicial Nomination Draws Union, Civil Rights Fire
The IAM is joining the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the AFL-CIO and other civil rights groups in opposing Charles W. Pickering’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Pickering first came to public attention as a law student and author of a controversial article about how the Mississippi legislature could change state law to criminalize interracial marriage. As a State Senator he voted to deny full voting rights to African-Americans and opposed full implementation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

As a U.S. District Court Judge, Pickering voted to support the “Sovereignty Commission,” a state-funded agency established to oppose integration following the landmark desegregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

A hearing on Pickering’s nomination is scheduled for Thursday, February 7. The Senate Judiciary Committee will then vote on whether to approve the nomination and send it to the floor.

IAM Nominates Knapheide Manufacturing Company For Labor-Management Award

Stable and productive labor relations are the general rule in unionized work places, even though the conflicts usually make headlines. That is why the AFL-CIO’s Union Label & Service Trades Department recognizes employers who go the extra mile to establish positive relationships that qualify as exemplary. IAM IP Tom Buffenbarger nominated Knapheide Manufacturing Company of Taylor, MO and Quincy, IL for the 2002 Labor- Management Award.

“This IAM-represented company proudly displays the IAM logo and has provided good jobs for our members for many years,” said Buffenbarger.

The award is presented annually at the opening of the Union-Industries Show, scheduled this year for April 5, 2002, in Minneapolis, MN. More information is available at www.unionlabel.org.