iMail Tuesday, June 8, 2004

IP Targets National Mediation Board at FMCS Conference

At a meeting with leaders of the nation’s three top labor agencies, IP Tom Buffenbarger called for an end to the politicization of federal agencies charged with administering collective bargaining laws in the United States.

“These agencies were created to administer and protect labor laws in the U.S.,” said Buffenbarger after speaking at the 12 th National Labor-Management Conference in Chicago. “They were not created to serve the political agenda of an administration that doesn’t know the difference between union members and terrorists.”

In his remarks to the conference, which featured representatives from the National Mediation Board (NMB), the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Buffenbarger singled out the NMB for its failure to move negotiations forward at the nation’s freight railroads. Talks remain stalled after 56 months of direct and mediated negotiations. “More than 8,000 rail workers are being denied their rights under laws that were passed decades ago,” said Buffenbarger. “The NMB is prolonging the rail dispute in management’s favor by refusing to move the process forward.”

Following the meeting, Buffenbarger met with NMB Chairman Ed Fitzmaurice for more than an hour of frank discussions over the impasse at the nation’s freight rail lines. The NMB administers the Railway Labor Act, the 1926 federal law authorizing collective bargaining in the rail and airline industries. The law provides for direct negotiations followed by an offer of arbitration. If either side refuses arbitration, a 30-day countdown commences, after which time a strike or lockout can take place. It is during the 30-day period, however, that many difficult negotiations are resolved.

Unions Go All Out for Jobs, Health Care

IAM members will join thousands of fellow AFL-CIO members and go door-to-door in 16 states to talk to fellow union members about jobs, health care and the 2004 election.

As part of the AFL-CIO “Labor ’04” program, the volunteers will talk to union members and their families about where the presidential candidates stand on jobs and health care. The union volunteers will also pass out literature that describes the specific positions of Senator John Kerry and President George Bush on these issues.

“Working people are fed up with seeing good jobs sent overseas and facing soaring health care costs,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “Never before have working people been so energized so early about an election.”

Thousands of union members signed up for more than a hundred walks in 72 cities. They include teachers, plumbers, hotel workers, fire fighters, painters, phone operators, garment workers, engineers, nurses and workers from a broad range of other professions. Union household members are expected to represent one out of four voters in November, as they did in the 2000 presidential election.

The June walks are part of the AFL-CIO’s continuing outreach program to inform and mobilize America’s working families around issues central to their lives and future in the 2004 election. The AFL-CIO is the umbrella organization for America’s unions and represents 13 million working men and women.

Jobs and the Upside Down Economic Recovery

The recent announcement that 248,000 jobs were added in May is definitely good news, however, the unemployment rate remains unchanged at 5.6 percent. As IAM research economist Beth Almedia explains, “248,000 jobs sounds like a lot, but the U.S. economy is huge. Those 248,000 jobs only absorb new growth in the labor force, the number added by a growing population. That’s why the unemployment rate hasn’t budged in six months.” We still are not creating enough new jobs to provide opportunities to all who want a job.

What we have is an upside down economic recovery. Workers are not seeing any more paycheck growth even though the Administration boasts of economic improvements.

“Normally, in an economic recovery, the workers make gains. Then over the course of that recovery, profits and the corporate sector catch up. The rising tide lifts all boats together,” says Almedia. “But the reverse has happened in this recovery: the tide raised only the luxury liners.”

Japan Labor Union Visits IAM

A delegation from the Japan Labor Union (JLU), representing 550 Japan-based United Airlines Mechanics, Ramp Service, and Public Contact Employees, traveled to IAM headquarters to meet with IAM International and District 141 representatives.

“The members of both unions will benefit from this opportunity to forge a strong relationship,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Although we work on different continents, our members are faced with similar problems, such as outsourcing and the threat of new technology.” United Airlines recently outsourced reservation duties performed by JLU members to non-union workers in Okinawa.

The five JLU representatives toured IAM headquarters and the William W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Center to see where Machinists’ representatives receive world-class training.

“Airlines form global alliances and we, representing the employees of those companies, must exchange information and develop uniform strategies to better represent our members,” said Roach. “The more partners we have, the stronger we are.”

General Motors Will Invest Over $3 Billion In China

General Motors announced yesterday that it is building a new engineering and design facility in China which will more than double its manufacturing capabilities there.

The cost of the project, which is pending Chinese Government approval, is expected to exceed $3 billion over the next three years and will be funded by profits from GM's China joint ventures. The announcement comes at a time when the US auto industry has lost 190,000 jobs in the last three years including the parts suppliers to the auto industry.

Michigan-based auto part and tool makers were already worried that their businesses will suffer under GM's previously announced plans to buy more parts in China. GM has already invested more than $2 billion in its China operations. GM also announced it plans to continue pursuing its aggressive growth of business ventures in China.

Southern Territory Notches Organizing Wins

A solid majority of 101 workers who manufacture wallboard products at Lafarge North America, in Palatka, FL voted for IAM representation last week, following an extraordinary effort by IAM organizers and in-plant organizing team members.

“The employees stood firm and voted for a voice in the workplace despite an intense campaign by management that included daily anti-union meetings and pressure from corporate headquarters,” said GLR Larry Washam.

At Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas, District Lodge 776 held two separate elections, winning both and adding 21 grounds maintenance workers and 111 supply, fuels and motor pool workers to the IAM family.

“Across the Southern Territory, our Districts' emphasis on organizing is paying off,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “I'd like to congratulate District 112 DBR Steve Hernandez for the LaFarge win, and I want to thank Director of Organizing Ken Walsh, Grand Lodge Organizer Larry Washam and Apprentice Organizer Billy Stivers for their assistance. Congratulations also go to District 776 DBR Pat Lane for yet another set of organizing wins; Southern Territory Special Representative Terry Smith; BR David Faith and the organizing committees for a job well done."

Cross, Hartford Named to Leadership Roles

Veteran IAM officer, organizer and activist P. Timothy Cross will report to IAM headquarters on Sept. 1 to assume his new role as Special Assistant to General Secretary-Treasurer Warren Mart.

“I’m looking forward to my new responsibilities,” said Cross, who will participate in the development and promotion of numerous projects in the GST Department.

An IAM member since 1974, Cross brings three decades of experience to his new position. Originally hired as a dispatcher for NMR Corporation, Tim was elected to the negotiating committee and served as vice president and president of Local 1977 until 1990, when he was appointed District 28 Organizer. In 1992, he was elected District 28 Business Representative, a position he held until March 2000, when he was named Administrative Assistant to Eastern Territory GVP Lynn P. Tucker, Jr.

“I’m proud to have someone of Tim’s experience join our team at IAM headquarters,” said GST Warren Mart. “His dedication and professionalism will be a real asset to our members.”

Taking over as Eastern Territory Administrative Assistant will be GLR Dale Hartford, a 22-year IAM member whose union career got off to a fast start when he was appointed to his local’s Shop Committee upon completion of his probation at S.D. Warren Paper Company. Dale was later elected President of Local 2740 and also served as Business Rep and DBR for District 99 before becoming Grand Lodge Rep. in 1990.

To ensure seamless representation and servicing for members in the wake of the new appointments, IP Tom Buffenbarger named former Local S-6 President and District 4 DBR Brian Bryant to become a Grand Lodge Representative, effective Sept. 1, 2004. An IAM member since hiring on as a pipe fitter with Bath Iron Works in 1989, Bryant also served on the Executive Board of the Maine AFL-CIO.

Ken McCaw Wins Engineering Award

The chief engineer responsible for maintaining building facilities at the IAM’s state-of-the-art headquarters building in Upper Marlboro, MD, was recently recognized with a Boland Services Engineering Award of Excellence. Ken McCaw joined the IAM maintenance staff in 1987, when the IAM was headquartered at 1300 Connecticut Ave. in downtown Washington, D.C.

“The current building is a 21st century showcase and a pleasure to work at,” said McCaw, who works alongside fellow engineers Blaine Keys and Steve Hill to operate and maintain the building’s heating, cooling and structural components around the clock, 365 days a year.

“Their professionalism and expertise reflect the ideals this organization is built on,” said GST Warren Mart. “Ken and his staff certainly deserve to be recognized for the excellent job they do.”

Tax Dollars Fund Wal-Mart Empire

Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, used more than $1 billion in taxpayer money to build its stores and warehouses, according to a study by Good Jobs First, a non-profit research group.

"Shopping for Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer money to Finance it's Never Ending Growth" examines Wal-Mart's shameless use of taxpayer dollars to build their empire, as well as the company's tendency to create poverty-wage jobs and kill good jobs elsewhere.

The report was the first study to highlight deals made by state and local officials that subsidize Wal-Mart through property tax abatements and sales tax rebates.

Good Jobs First found that since the early 1980's taxpayers have helped fund 84 Wal-Mart distribution centers at an average subsidy of $7.4 million. Additionally, 160 Wal-Mart retail stores received an average subsidy of $2.8 million.