iMail Thursday, May 20, 2004
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The IAM's Third Annual Day of Action
The column of marchers stretched from three blocks during the IAM Transportation Department's third annual Day of Action.

Vice President Cheney Cheers Wal-Mart Wages
Vice President Dick Cheney was out stumping for Wal-Mart last week declaring that the chain exemplifies some of the very best qualities in our country.

2004 Legislative Conference
Machinists took the fight for good American jobs directly to the doors of Congress during the annual IAM Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.

Officers & Territories

R. Thomas Buffenbarger
International President

Warren L. Mart

Lee Pearson
GVP Western Territory

Dave Ritchie
GVP Canada

Robert V. Thayer
GVP Headquarters

Robert Roach, Jr.
GVP Transportation

Lynn Tucker
GVP Eastern Territory

Robert Martinez
GVP Southern Territory

James Brown
GVP Midwest Territory

Harley Prospers Without Shipping Jobs Overseas

«The unique relationship between labor & management at Harley is now moving into its third decade.

A feature article in The Financial Times points to employee involvement and a partnership with unions for the ongoing success and profitability at Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company.

The unique relationship between labor and management at Harley is now moving into its third decade. Employment levels at the company’s assembly plant in Kansas City have doubled in just five years. Workers are well paid and have good benefits. Management is inclusive and decision-making is shared with production employees.

“I’ll think you'll find everyone around here is aware that we have created something special,” says Harley CEO Jeff Bleustein in the FT article. “They are committed to preserving what we have.”

Prosperity and good times were not always the case for Harley-Davidson and its employees. The 1970’s and 1980’s produced some trying times that nearly forced the company to close its doors. In 1995, the IAM formalized a HPWO partnership with the company and the remarkable turnaround continues to this day.

House Leaders Target OSHA Protections

A campaign by GOP leaders in the House of Representatives to cripple the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gained new ground this week with movement on four bills that drew expected applause from business groups.

Under one of the proposed bills, H.R. 2782, employers would be given greater leeway to challenge OSHA citations. Under another, H.R. 2730, decisions of the agency would be subject to the OSHA Review Commission, the panel that hears companies’ appeals on violations.

Republicans claim the legislation would cut red tape but Democrats charge the bills are designed to reward and encourage election-year campaign contributions. “Everyone agrees that we should reduce red tape, but there is strong disagreement that turning back the clock on worker protections is the best way — or even a way — to accomplish this goal,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “The administration and Congressional Republicans expose their reflexive desire to tilt the playing field in favor of employer with bills like this.”

Washington Post Exposes Bush Fundraising Network

A new Washington Post series peels back the curtain behind the most successful fundraising machine in history that propelled George Bush into the White House and gives him an enormous advantage over challenger John Kerry. Since 1998, Bush has raised a record $296.3 million in campaign funds and “at least a third of the total, many sources believe more than half, was raised by 631 people,” according the Post.

Who are they? A network of Bush insiders, “corporate CEOs, Wall Street financial leaders, Washington lobbyists and Republican officials,” who recruit others to give the federal maximum $1,000 individual donation to a presidential campaign. Anyone who gets at least 100 others, or $100,000 in contributions, becomes a “Pioneer.” Recruit 200 others for $200,000 and you become a “Ranger.”

The fundraising network translates into substantial influence in the Bush Administration. “Out of the 246 fundraisers identified by the Post as pioneers in the 2000 campaign, 104, or slightly more than 40 percent, ended up in a job or appointment” and “23 Pioneers were named as ambassadors and three were named to the Cabinet: Donald L. Evans at the Commerce Department, Elaine Chao at Labor and Tom Ridge at Homeland Security.”

The elite group also has considerable influence placing political appointees to key regulatory positions who oversee industry. Enron CEO and 2000 Pioneer Kenneth Lay was part of the Energy Department transition team. He recommended eight persons for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and “two were named to the five-member commission,” the Post reports.

For Republican activist Richard Farmer, whose family controls Cintas Corp., being a Pioneer is about “just trying to get the right guy elected.” Cintas, who launders uniforms and industrial shop towels, was set to incur higher costs from an EPA proposal to regulate the potentially hazardous chemicals in the shop towels. After some industry lobbying, “the EPA provided industrial-laundry lobbyists with an advance copy of a portion of the proposed rule, which the lobbyists edited and the agency adopted,” the Post reports. “That same opportunity was not given to rule’s opponents” which included environmental groups, a labor union, hazardous waste landfill operators and paper towel manufacturers. The EPA adopted a more lenient proposal last November.

Greenspan Tapped For Fifth Term

Despite a record that includes two recessions, record deficits and the worst job creation record since the Great Depression, President Bush nominated Alan Greenspan for a fifth term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, saying Greenspan “has done a superb job.”

Future appointments will depend on who wins the White House in November. Some observers, however, believe Greenspan could resign prior to November, giving President Bush the opportunity to appoint a Republican successor before the 2004 election. “There’s no guarantee a Bush replacement for Greenspan would do any better, but he or she could hardly do any worse,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger.

Medicare Ads Ruled Illegal

The General Accounting Office (GAO) said mock news stories produced by the Bush administration touting the benefits of the new Medicare law were “covert propaganda” and a violation of federal law.

In an effort to promote the controversial Medicare law, dozens of so-called “video news releases” containing phony interviews with government officials were distributed by the White House at taxpayer expense to news stations around the country. Designed to look exactly like independent news segments, the videos, which the GAO said had “notable omissions and errors,” were rebroadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets across the country. Viewers seeing the videos as part of a newscast would “believe that the information came from a non-government source or a neutral party,” said the GAO report.

The ruling “is yet another indictment of the deception and dishonesty that has become business as usual for the Bush administration,” according to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who slammed the administration for using Medicare funds “for illegal propaganda to try and turn this lemon of a bill into lemonade for the Bush campaign.”

Bush Poll Numbers Hit New Low

President Bush’s approval ratings are dropping as quickly as the country’s gas prices are rising. Fifty percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as President, according to a recent poll by the Democracy Corps.

The combination of the country’s current economic hardships and the daily updates of prisoner abuse and American casualties in Iraq are casting serious doubts about Bush’s ability to handle his post. The poll showed that 57 percent of respondents feel the U.S. economy needs to go in a different direction than it is going now.

Additionally, presidential hopeful John Kerry continues to strengthen his campaign and define his image as a potential president. If the election were held today 49 percent of Americans would vote for Kerry, compared to only 47 percent for Bush, according to the Democracy Corps poll.

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Elected leaders across the country are calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced over the handling of the Iraq war and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

In your opinion, should Rumsfeld: Resign? Be Fired? Or be allowed to remain?
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Photo Contest The IAM is repeating its members-only photo contest again this year and you are encouraged to enter. Photo entries should catch IAM members at work in unposed photos. If your entry wins, you'll win a cash prize and your photo will appear in the 2005 IAM Calendar.
Go to:pc2005.

IAM2004 See who works for you, how the IAM is structured, and what services the IAM offers. Go to: IAM2004

Cincinnati Skyline 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.