Thursday,  February 5, 2004

House Passes Unemployment Extension
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a six-month extension of federal unemployment benefits by a vote of 227 to 179. Only 39 Republicans supported the bill. House GOP leaders let the federal extension expire last year one week before Christmas, citing no need to help the nation’s unemployed.

The House approved an amendment by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to the Community Services Block Grant Act. The extension will not go into effect unless the Senate enacts similar legislation and the President signs it.

The estimated 375,000 people who will exhaust unemployment benefits in January and not have jobs is the highest single-month total in 30 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (www.cbpp.org). About 80,000 to 90,000 people are exhausting benefits each week.

Click here to send a message to Congress to support a federal unemployment benefit extension.

Local 701 Hosts 4th Annual Pit Crew Competition
IAM Mechanics Local 701 in Countryside, IL and Ford Motor Company sponsored the 4th Annual Chi-town Teardown Pit Crew Competition where high school and college teams race the clock to disassemble and rebuild automobile engines.

Nineteen high schools and nine colleges entered the competition this year with winning teams receiving a brand new Ford pickup or mini-van. The teams tore down and rebuilt 5.4-liter Ford Triton V-8 engines for time and accuracy. 

With a time of twelve minutes, the winners in the high school division were a team of students from the Technical Center of Dupage in Addison, IL.  They completed a task that would be similar to getting a valve job at your local dealership.

The winning college team, with a time of 48 minutes, was Lincoln Technical Institute from Melrose Park, IL.  This team repeated as champ for the 3rd year in a row.  The teardown contest for these teams required a more detailed disassembly and rebuild.

The 30 engines used in the competition were presented to the competing schools for use in their auto shop program. Members of the winning teams also received IAM watches and leather Mechanics Local 701 jackets.

For more about the
4th Annual Chi-town Teardown Pit Crew Competition:

IAM to Appeal Airbus Outsourcing Decision
The IAM will appeal the 2-1 decision of a three-judge panel overturning a lower court’s injunction preventing US Airways from subcontracting heavy maintenance of its Airbus aircraft. “This issue is too important to allow a split decision by a 3-judge panel be the final word,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger.

The Appeals Court did not rule on the merits of the IAM’s assertion that its collective bargaining agreement requires US Airways’ IAM-represented employees to perform Airbus heavy maintenance work. Rather, the Court ruled the dispute should be resolved through binding arbitration. 

“The Machinists Union will continue to take all legal steps to protect the interests and jobs of our membership,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr.

The District Court’s October 21, 2003, injunction prohibiting US Airways from subcontracting Airbus maintenance to a foreign-owned, non-union facility will remain in force pending a determination by the Appeals Court on the IAM’s petition.

UAL V.P. Threatens Retirees
The latest move in United Airline's assault on retirees’ health benefits is a letter from a UAL executive threatening court action if representatives for the former employees do not agree to higher costs and benefit cutbacks for retirees.

The initial Jan. 13 announcement by United that it would seek to cut retiree benefits sparked immediate outrage among employees, including hundreds who made retirement decisions believing their medical benefits would be protected.

In the latest letter to retirees, UAL Vice President Pete McDonald calls the company’s about face “a necessary part of the company’s overall business plan” and says it will petition the Bankruptcy Court if negotiations do not achieve the cuts it seeks.

“United spends less than 1 percent of its total operating costs on retiree medical benefits,” said GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “IAM members at United already agreed to contract changes that save the airline $450 million per year. There is no financial justification whatsoever for this malicious betrayal of United’s loyal former employees.”

Canadian Call Workers Say ‘IAM Oui’
The 76 employees of Grand & Toy Limited in Toronto have said, “Machinists, Yes”.
The employees, who work in a call center at Grand & Toys corporate headquarters in Toronto, voted for IAM representation in December however, challenges by the company delayed the vote count until Wednesday, January 21.
”These workers deserve credit for their courage and persistence in getting unionized in the face of a strong company campaign,” said IAM organizer Scott Jackson.

The new IAM members, mostly women, process orders for clients and retail outlets. They placed job security and a voice in the workplace at the top of the list as to why they requested the IAM's assistance.
Grand & Toy is the largest commercial supplier of office products in Canada, with 21 sales offices, eight regional distribution centers and 75 retail locations.