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Tuesday April 29,  2003

Congress Returns to Full Agenda
Congress returned from its spring break to a full plate of issues ranging from tax cuts for the rich to attacks on overtime pay for working Americans. Tax writing committees in both House and Senate will be squabbling over the $550 billion House version or the Senate’s “tax cut lite” version of a mere $350 billion.

“No matter which version clears the bar, it’s still a massive giveaway to the rich,” declared IP Tom Buffenbarger, “and a rip-off of working families who see little more than crumbs.”

To pay for this bloated “welfare for the wealthy” tax cut, President Bush and his GOP minions on Capitol Hill are eyeing even bigger spending cuts for education, Medicare, Medicaid and jobless benefits for laid-off workers.

At the same time, the Bush administration proposed new regulations limiting workers’ overtime eligibility and congressional Republicans tacked on legislation allowing employers to offer unpaid comp time in lieu of overtime pay. To download fliers about Bush attack on overtime, visit www.workingfamiliestoolkit.org and for information about the Bush’s tax cut, visit the “Economists on Bush Tax Cut” page at www.epinet.org.

Buffenbarger Scorches Flawed Trade Pacts
In a blistering speech to the Council of the Americas, a business group that promotes free trade, IP Tom Buffenbarger pointed out the devastation brought about to North America’s workers by flawed trade policies such as NAFTA and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Over its 10-year history, NAFTA “has cost workers in the United States more than 700,000 jobs…virtually every state in this country has lost jobs,” Buffenbarger told the Council of the Americas at its conference in Washington, DC.

None of the benefits that were promised have yet appeared, Buffenbarger noted. “New markets that were promised by those who supported NAFTA have not appeared.” At the same time, “the small trade surplus the U.S. had with Mexico before NAFTA has ballooned into a $30 billion annual deficit.”

Instead of following this same corrosive trade path, Buffenbarger urged a broader perspective: “We must craft a new trade policy based on vision: fairness, inclusion and democracy.

“Workers in the U.S—together with all workers of the America’s—deserve no less.”

For the full text of the speech, click here.

Members Vote to End Lockheed Strike
IAM members at Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth, TX voted to end their two-week walkout and return to work after winning caps on prescription drug costs and preserving the integrity of the 40-hour workweek.

The 3-year accord includes a $1,500 signing bonus, General Wage Increases of 4%, 3% and 3%, a pension rate of $58 per month per year of service, and caps on the costs of prescription drugs. “The cap was crucial,” said Pat Lane, District 776 President and Directing Business Representative. “We have to have some control of how much drugs are going to cost our members.”

“The membership at District 776 has a strong voice,” said John Crowdis, Aerospace Coordinator for Lockheed Martin. “They let Lockheed Martin know the first offer was unacceptable, and they backed it up with a strong strike. They have a lot to be proud of.”

Members at the Fort Worth facility build the F-16 and a major part of the F-22. Production will begin next year on the Joint Strike Fighter.

 Solemn Ceremony Marks Worker Memorial Day
In the fading light of warm April evening, more than a hundred IAM members and guests gathered at the Winpisinger Center’s lighthouse monument to observe the 15th annual Workers Memorial Day.

“It will be a far better day when we can mark this occasion without adding any new names to this memorial,” said GVP Bob Thayer to the gathering that included family members of those who died. A bell tolled 23 times for each IAM member whose name was added to the memorial site.

“More than 6,000 people die each year from accident on the job and 50,000 more die from occupational diseases,” said Mike Flynn, director of the IAM Safety and Health Department.

In a closing prayer, minister David Deaderick stood before the monument and offered these words: “Give us the grace and courage to honor them with renewed determination that, in all areas of commerce, justice may prevail over unfairness; true charity over greed; and honor over the unethical and unwise use of power.”

Shareholders Target Boeing CEO Pay
Angry shareholders at Boeing voted in record numbers at the company’s annual meeting to oppose unrestricted severance benefits for retiring executives at the giant aerospace firm.

The proposal to require shareholder approval for supplemental retirement benefits for senior executives was introduced by IAM District 751 Administrative Assistant Ron McGaha, who welcomed the 15 percent vote in favor of limiting ‘golden parachutes’ for retiring executives.

District 751 President Mark Blondin and IAM Research Economist David White spoke to shareholders and the press about the growing resentment of lavish retirement packages in the midst of a weak economy and tens of thousands of layoffs in the aerospace industry.

“Employee shareholders at Boeing are demanding more transparency in senior executive pay practices and the right to evaluate these supplemental executive retirement plans," said Blondin.

The high turnout at Boeing’s annual meeting follows similar uprisings at Raytheon, United Technologies and Lockheed Martin where shareholders used their voting power to demand greater accountability and transparency from grossly over compensated corporate executives.

Federal Employees Face Crackdown
If Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gets his way, nearly 620,000 civilian employees at the Department of Defense (DoD) would lose the right to appeal disciplinary actions at work and face a new system where supervisors arbitrarily decide pay and promotions.

Additionally, the Rumsfeld Plan would take away employees’ right to bargain collectively and remove rules preventing managers from hiring family members and political cronies.

“The proposed legislation gives the Defense Secretary unprecedented powers over civilian employees and all but eliminates the role of the Congress, the Office of Personnel Management or labor unions,” said Frank Carelli, director of IAM Government Employees Department. “Federal employees need to contact their representatives immediately and oppose this thinly disguised power grab by administration officials and the Department of Defense.”

Click on the following link to send message to your federal legislators to "Stop Defense Dept. Plan to Erode Collective Bargaining Rights."

Transportation Day of Action Set
The 2003 IAM Transportation Day of Action will take place on May 21, 2003. Transportation Local Lodges around the country are planning activities to educate the traveling public about the plight of America’s transportation workers.

“The transportation industry has been in free-fall since 9-11,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Airline workers are being forced to finance the restructuring of failing companies in or near bankruptcy. Railroad workers have been in negotiations without raises for more than three years. Without the dedication and sacrifice of these workers, the nation’s transportation system would be destroyed.”

While local activities are planned, a major rally will take place on the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the IAM’s annual Legislative Conference.

Members and invited guests will begin marching at 12 Noon from the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill to the rally at 3rd St., NW between Constitution and Independence Avenues on the Capitol Mall.

Contact your local lodge for information on activities in your area.

See who works for you, how the IAM is structured, and what services the IAM offers. Go to: IAM profiles for 2003.

Everyday discounts
and benefits for union members.
Go to: Union Privilege


Like to take pictures? Good with a camera? Then you should enter this year's IAM Photography Contest.
Find out more information

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.