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Thursday June 12,  2003

Health Costs Spark Heated Debate In GE Talks
A gap over the best ways to contain soaring health care costs became a yawning canyon as IAM and GE negotiating teams ended a third day of efforts to reach a new contract.

While Doug Baker, GE’s lead negotiator, conceded that “the IAM is way out front on health care issues,” the company’s cost containment proposals do little more than shift a greater share of those costs to workers and retirees.

“This is not the way to reach agreement,” warned IAM spokesman Russ McGarry. “This is absolutely unpalatable.” 

The heated exchange ended the day’s talks after management outlined a comprehensive set of health care proposals that raised new issues and sparked numerous questions from the IAM representatives.

Earlier, GVP Bob Thayer pointed out that soaring health care costs are becoming a “national crisis” and “a crisis that must addressed at the national level.”  He explained that simply pushing a greater share of the costs onto workers and retirees simply prolongs the problem.

Thayer said that IAM members at every GE location are united in their demands that these concerns be addressed at the bargaining table. “Solidarity on the shop floor plays a key role in every negotiation. It’s important to make your voices heard,” Thayer said. “Let them know how you feel.”

Machinists Seek to Reopen Indy Base
More than 700 former United Airlines employees packed a meeting with IAM leaders and investors to hear about prospects for reopening the Indianapolis Maintenance Center.

Representatives from a California-based investment firm have agreed to consider financing proposals for reopening all or part of the 12 hangars and support shops that make up the 1.6 million square foot facility. More than 1,100 aircraft mechanics and other employees were laid off when United Airlines abandoned its lease as part of the carrier’s bankruptcy restructuring.

“The meeting brings us a step closer to our goal of reopening the maintenance center and providing jobs for thousands of IAM members who were furloughed when United Airlines closed the facility,” said Robert Roach, Jr., IAM General Vice President.

An additional meeting is scheduled for June 18, 2003, between the IAM, The Yucaipa Companies, Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and the Indianapolis Airport Authority.

Opposition Grows to Rumsfeld’s
Attack on Federal Workers

Union members from the Bremerton, WA Metal Trades Council demonstrate against Rumsfeld's attack on federal workers.

Federal workers took to the streets in Bremerton, WA and Pearl Harbor, HI to protest Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s radical restructuring of federal civil service rules for Defense Department employees. The protests represent a fraction of the growing opposition to proposals to gut work rules for federal employees.

The so-called “Defense Transformation Act” will eliminate hiring preferences for veterans, remove collective bargaining rights, virtually eliminate overtime pay and remove the rights of employees to appeal discriminatory actions by supervisors.

The Rumsfeld plan will affect about 746,000 civilian employees at the Department of Defense, which is more than 45 percent of the government’s two million civilian employees, according to the Washington Post.

“Rumsfeld’s plan is just the first step, other agencies are lining up proposals of their own based on what Congress does with Defense employees,” said Government Employees Director Frank Carelli. “It’s beyond belief that federal workers will be stripped of the rights they are asked to protect for everyone else.”

Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the Rumsfeld plan and are working on a final bill in conference committee. Contact your representatives immediately at 202-224-3121 or
click here to send a pre-written email message from the “Action Alert” section of www.goiam.org.

Solidarity Marks Waukesha Picket Line

The IAM negotiating team at GE joined Local 1377 members who are on strike against Waukesha Engine Co. in Waukesha, WI.

GVP Bob Thayer and the IAM negotiating team left contract talks with General Electric Corp. and joined a spirited picket line at Waukesha Engine Co. in Waukesha, WI. More than 450 members of IAM Local 1377 have been on strike at the venerable firm since May 2.

“This strike is not about wages,” declared Don Griffin, who heads the union’s bargaining committee. “It’s about our rights.”

The Waukesha Engine Co., the “Motor Company,” has a long and storied history in the community. It began making tractor engines in 1910. At least two of its gas compression engines were operating in the World Trade Center on September 11. “They were still running when the buildings collapsed,” Griffin said.

The IAM history with the firm, a division of Dresser Industries, began in 1936, according to Mike Kluth, Local 1377 president. “We’re shocked they would do this,” he said. “We’ve had good relationships with the company for years.”

The company demanded a two-tier wage system that would have set wages back to 1982 levels, Kluth explained. Also, company negotiators demanded sweeping changes in seniority provisions and other concessions that forced workers to hit the bricks.

As black-booted security guards aimed video cameras at the strolling strikers, passing vehicles blasted their horns in a raucous concert and passengers flashed “V for Victory” signs in a strong display of community support.

“We appreciate it,” Kluth said. “We know we’re not alone.”

Local 737 Member to the Rescue

David Primeau used his head, his hands and his tools recently to free an elderly woman trapped under a van following a traffic accident that occurred in front of his workplace.

Primeau, an IAM auto mechanic at Midway Chevrolet in St. Paul, Minnesota, arrived at the accident scene involving a van and a pedestrian.

     David Primeau


“I saw the van sitting there with a head sticking out from underneath it,” said Primeau. “I turned and ran as fast as I could to get a jack.” Returning at full tilt with the heavy floor jack, Primeau shoved the tongue under the van and pumped the van off the woman in seconds while another shop employee sheltered the victim from the rain.

Police and paramedics arrived shortly afterward and carefully removed the woman, who suffered a broken arm, pelvis and fractured skull. She is listed in stable condition.

IAM Represents Labor on Health Panel
The IAM served as the sole labor representative on a policy-making panel of more than 100 health care stakeholders including patients; providers; researchers and government agencies.

Steve Sleigh, director of IAM Strategic Resources, joined the Markle Foundation’s Connecting for Health Collaborative, a nine-month study tasked with identifying actions needed on a national scale to create an interconnected electronic health information infrastructure.

“Any health care communications network must serve the patient and the community as well as the providers,” said Sleigh. “The technology is available to do both if we handle it correctly.”

In its report, the panel addressed the thicket of economic, technical and privacy issues that must be resolved before health care information can, or should be exchanged via nationwide computer networks. 

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

The 108th Congressional Directory . . .
get your copy. Send $5 to the MNPL Education Fund, c/o IAMAW, 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, MD, 20772.

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