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Thursday,  April 3,  2003


Raytheon Workers Rally to Save Jobs
Working families braved chilly temperatures and gusty winds to rally around IAM members and other workers at Raytheon Corp. facilities in Wichita and Salinas, KS.

“Last year, the company said if we found ways to cut costs, the jobs would stay here,” said Lee Carney, a single mother and IAM activist. “We cut the costs, but they’ve never stopped trying to outsource our jobs.”

IAM representatives pledged an all-out campaign to keep the aerospace work in the communities. “This town was built on this industry,” said Frank Santos, IAM Aerospace coordinator. “We will not allow these companies to kill these cities.” Santos noted that every aerospace job “supports four or five additional jobs.” Shipping those jobs to Mexico would “bring an economic Dust Bowl here,” he said. “This city would dry up and blow away.”

Other rally speakers echoed those words. “Since they passed NAFTA and Fast Track, they’ve bled this country of every job we’ve had,” said DBR Steve Rooney of District 70. He blamed those lawbreakers who backed those unfair trade deals for making it increasingly convenient, and highly profitable, to export jobs. Since 1998, more than 2.5 million manufacturing jobs have left the U.S. for low-wage, nonunion facilities on foreign shores.

Congress Proposes Airline Worker Relief
Preliminary action by the House and Senate may mean help with extended unemployment benefits for thousands of unemployed airline workers. In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that includes an additional 26 weeks of unemployment insurance for airline and related industries workers as part of a pending supplemental appropriations bill.

In the House, the 26-week extension is part of a separate bill, the Air Transportation Employees Assistance Act (H.R. 1553) which was introduced by Representatives Phil English (R-PA) and James Oberstar (D-MN).

“These bills won’t pass unless we act. I urge every IAM member to contact their representatives and demand that workers be part of any airline aid package,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “We need to keep the pressure on Congress and not let them forget about airline employees like they did after September 11th.”

To send a message to your Senators and Representative, go to the Action Alert and Advocacy page of www.goiam.org and click on “War Funding Should Include Airline Aid” (http://congress.nw.dc.us/iamaw/issues/alert/?alertid=1795836).

IAM Wins Indianapolis Base Closing Dispute
When United Airlines claimed the rights to use force majeure provisions of the contract to place mechanics on a "no work" status during a temporary closure of the airline's Indianapolis maintenance facility, the IAM filed a preliminary injunction to prevent the move.

The IAM contended that laid off mechanics should be placed on traditional furlough status. More than 1,400 IAM members at the Indianapolis facility would have lost the opportunity to transfer to another UAL location and receive moving expenses, or request severance pay had the IAM not fought the company's move.

Management came to agreement with the IAM regarding force majeure and the IAM agreed to withdraw the preliminary injunction.

"The war with Iraq can not be used as an excuse to deny established contract rights." said District 141-M President Scotty Ford. "Changes in the way United operates may be needed, but those changes must come through negotiations and ratified agreements, and not by unilateral decisions."

Social Security Obits Premature
Social Security, the nation’s most successful social program, rests on sound financial footing, according to the Social Security Board of Trustees in its annual report. In that report, the trustees said full benefits are guaranteed until 2042, a year longer than projected last year. After 2042, the program can fund 73 percent of all benefits without any action being taken to boost the program.

That’s not good news for those White House doom-and-gloom purveyors who’re dying to privatize the system and set off a feeding frenzy by Wall Street predators salivating at the prospect of pillaging the Social Security trust fund. The Bush administration appointed most of the trustees, so it can’t logically dispute their findings.

“Most of that projected shortfall could be met by doing away with the ceiling on income subject to Social Security taxes,” explained IP Tom Buffenbarger. “The limit now is about $80,000. This means most working people pay those taxes on all their income all year long. Multimillionaires like Enron’s Ken Lay have paid their taxes for the year by about 20 minutes past midnight on New Year’s Eve. They should pay their fair share, just like working people do,” he said.

There’s mixed news from the Medicare front. The trustees report that Medicare’s financial condition dipped a bit last year. The insolvency date for the program’s Part A Hospital Trust Fund was set at 2026, a four-year drop from the previous year. The decline stems from lost revenues caused by the soaring jobless rate and an increase in hospital expenses because of higher inpatient admissions. The report said Medicare Part B, which covers doctors’ services, outpatient care and other medical services remains “adequately funded into the future.”

IAM Member Dies in Shipyard Fire
A memorial brick bearing the name of James M. Ham has been added to the IAM Workers Memorial at the Winpisinger Center in southern Maryland.  He died March 27, four days after suffering severe burns from a transformer explosion at the BMI Corp. shipyard in Baltimore. Ham, 57, was a 35-year member of IAM Local LS33.

The Workers Memorial commemorates IAM members killed in workplace tragedies and stands as a somber reminder that “workplace safety and health will always rank high on our union’s list of priorities,” pledged IP Tom Buffenbarger. “On behalf of the IAM and all our members, I extend our most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of our fallen brother.”

An OSHA investigation into the accident is underway, added Mike Flynn, IAM Safety & Health director. “We will be keeping a close eye on their findings,” he said. Flynn noted that a ceremony honoring the IAM’s fallen members will be held at the memorial on April 28, Worker’s Memorial Day—the day set aside to “mourn for the dead, fight for the living.”

New Hampshire Workers Scuttle RTW
Working families and their community allies had ringside seats as New Hampshire’s House of Representatives torpedoed an ill-conceived “right-to-work (for less) proposal. Union members, their families and supporters jammed the House gallery as legislators voted by a 262-103 count to scuttle the measure.

The state’s 40,000 union family members generated more than 48,000 postcards and letters opposing the bill during the three-month campaign. Union members handed over 20,000 of those to state lawmakers and Gov. Craig Benson the day of the vote. Additionally, workers staged rallies, met with legislators and mounted a massive campaign against the anti-worker measure.

Chapman, Solomon In Grand Lodge Moves
Tony Chapman and Hasan Solomon are set to take on new responsibilities at the Grand Lodge , reports GVP Robert V. Thayer. Chapman will head up the brand-new IAM Department of Employment Services, while Solomon will be Legislative and Political representative for the Legislative Department. Chapman most recently served as Director of IAM CARES, and Solomon was Legal Fellow for the IAM’s Legal Department.

Tell Congress that any war funding should include airlines and out-of-work airline employees.
Take action now!

The recession and misguided government policies for trade and the economy are wiping out millions of jobs. The IAM brings together economic and policy experts to find ways to create and keep good-paying jobs in North America. The Spring 2003 IAM Journal.

The AFL-CIO has set up an exciting new website that will focus exclusively on state legislative issues. It will be password protected to enable state federations and central labor councils, affiliate unions, and union-friendly legislators to share information about state and local legislation.

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.