iMail Tuesday June 29, 2004
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Machinists at Freightliner Turn Down Company Offer
Machinists at Freightliner in Portland said no to the company's last, best and final offer and yes to a strike authorization by almost a ten to one margin on June 25th.

Kerry Talks Jobs in Ohio
Presidential hopeful John Kerry met with workers in Ohio's Stark County last week.

Cessna Machinists Authorize Strike in Wichita
Machinists at Cessna aircraft in Wichita jammed local traffic along Interstate 295 on Tuesday as they voted to authorize a strike for their negotiators.

Special Interests Push Medicare Bill
According to a study by the consumer group Public Citizen - special interests, the drug industry and HMO's spent a record 141 million dollars to push medicare legislation through Congress in 2003.

Free Trade Debunked in Senate Hearing
Last week machinists, farmers and automotive representatives converged on Capitol Hill to put a face with the hundreds of thousands of workers being hurt by unfair and faulty trade agreements.

Wal-Mart Imports Exceeds U.S. Exports
Wal-Mart rolls back prices by rolling over all competition in importing goods.

Labor 2004:
Get Out the Vote

Thousands of Union volunteers are going door to door and talking to members about where the presidential candidates stand on the key issues of good jobs and affordable health care.

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

Bush Board Downs UAL Loan Request

“Airline workers have more to fear from anti-worker legislators and their allies than they do from any terrorist or international threat,” said GVP Robert Roach, Jr., in response to the decision by the Air Transportation Stabilization Board (ATSB) to reject United Airlines’ application for a loan guarantee.

“The campaign by a gaggle of analysts and politicians to deny United any financial aid is clearly aimed at reducing labor costs industry-wide by forcing United to set new, lower standards for employee compensation,” said Roach.

Congress created the ATSB in 2001 to administer a $10 billion loan program designed to aid airlines struggling to survive in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Since it’s creation, however, the board has distributed only $1.56 billion from the $10 billion fund.

“The intent of the ATSB decision is to trigger yet another round of employee sacrifices,” said IAM District 141 President Randy Canale. “This is an opportunity, perhaps the best opportunity yet, for United to rise above expectations and refuse to use its employees as human fertilizer to satisfy lenders and politicians. It will not serve United to exit bankruptcy at the expense of thousands of front line employees on whose backs the airline’s recovery ultimately rests.” |

IAM members at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin's Mercury Marine turn out en masse for a contract ratification vote.

Local 1947 Ratifies New Pact with Mercury Marine

Members of Local 1947 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin turned out this weekend to vote overwhelmingly in favor of a new four-year contract with Mercury Marine. The decision, hailed by both labor and management, follows an earlier offer from the company that was rejected by members on June 19.

“I’m pleased with the turnout and the vote,” said R. Gene Herman, president of Local 1947 quoted in the Fond du Lac Reporter. “We tried to work out an agreement that gives people something, yet keeps the jobs here in Fond du Lac.”

As in many contract negotiations, health care costs were a difficult hurdle to overcome. “Our health care premium will remain the same, but employees will pay a co-sharing or premium sharing amount,” said Herman, who credited local management for working toward a mutually acceptable settlement.

Job security is also a concern for 1,975 IAM members at the nation’s last U.S.-owned maker of outboard marine engines. Last August, the company announced plans to move some small engine production to China. Currently, the company plans to add 50 new positions in Fond du Lac. More than 1,200 applications were received for the openings.

Kerry Talks Jobs in Ohio

Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry met with workers in Ohio’s Stark County last week, pledging to fight for American jobs.

Kerry told the workers, whose county saw nearly 2,000 workers laid off in May, that he would create a wealth of high-paying manufacturing jobs by investing in new technologies.

He also told the crowd he would do away with tax cuts that promote outsourcing; enforce trade agreements and allow for new jobs tax credits that would encouraging domestic hiring by manufacturers and other businesses.

“Our country is stronger when the machines are running, products are being made and people are cashing paychecks to care for their families. We need to do everything we can to keep and create new, high-paying jobs here in America. That’s why I’ll always stand by America’s workers in the fight to save their jobs,” Kerry told the audience.

Canada Firefighters Choose Machinists

Volunteer firefighters in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada overcame opposition from their employer to become the first firefighters organized by the IAM in Canada.

“The Corporation of the County of Norfolk tied up the rights of these employees to belong to the trade union of their choice for months,” said IAM organizer Scott Jackson. “The Ontario Labour Relations Board decided on June 9, 2004 that since these employees had a lengthy history of negotiating wages and benefits with their employer, they are an appropriate bargaining unit and negotiations should begin shortly.”

The firefighters turned to the IAM after Norfolk County refused to recognize their association and negotiate a new collective agreement, breaking with a 25-year practice.

“I operate my workplace with an open door and if there is a problem, I believe two intelligent people can sit down to discuss the issues properly and reach a compromise,” said Acting Captain John Goodlet. “But when the door is slammed in your face and your right to bargain is denied, a union is your alternative."

Volunteer firefighters in Simcoe are compensated for their time off work to perform their duties; the salaries range from $5,000 to $8,500 per year. Norfolk County has a total of 11 volunteer fire stations.

Medicare Lobbying Overwhelms Lawmakers

Pharmaceutical and managed-care companies spent more than $141 million dollars lobbying for Medicare last year alone—equaling nearly 10 lobbyists for every US senator—according to Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

“The Medicare Modernization Act, a top priority of President Bush, promises to safeguard profits at the expense of America’s taxpayers,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “Considering the legion of lobbyists unleashed by pharmaceutical companies, HMOs and allied industry front groups, no wonder taxpayers ended up with a bill tailor-made to serve these special interests instead of senior citizens.”

The drug industry recently hired eleven top Bush administration staffers, including four key Bush administration officials who wrote or promoted Medicare after the new Medicare law was signed.

Federal Court Blocks Media Deregulation

A federal court blocked an FCC effort to allow companies to own both television and radio stations in the same market, citing the importance of information diversification. This decision protects local news and information sources from being overtaken by a handful of corporate giants.

Gene Kimmelman, the senior public policy director of the Consumers Union, called the ruling “a complete repudiation of rules that would allow one or two media giants to dominate the most important sources of local news and information in almost every community in America.”

The FCC plans to appeal, saying rules preventing cross-media ownership are outdated. Corporations and the FCC will continue to lobby for more ownership options.

Labor 2004: Walking Tall

IAM members joined with thousands of union volunteers who went door-to-door in 16 states this weekend to mobilize participation among union households for the upcoming presidential election.

Organized by the AFL-CIO as part of its Labor 2004 outreach program, the volunteers offered voter registration information and handed out brochures titled “Good Jobs and Affordable Health Care: Who’s Fighting for Working Families?” The nationwide effort is aimed at personally contacting more than 1 million union voters before Election Day.

Outsourcing Continues to Plague Economy

Prices continue to soar above wages and the unemployment rate continues to rise thanks, in part, to outsourcing, according to an article published by Bloomberg, a financial, information reporting agency.

Wages increased 2.2 percent over the last 12 months, but consumer prices increased by a larger 3.1 percent. “It’s unlikely that employees will get raises that outpace inflation over the next five to ten years, said William A. Niskanen, former acting chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during the Ronald Reagan administration.

And the unemployment rate, currently 5.6 percent, is up from the 4.2 percent rate when the last recession began in March 2001.

Americans are feeling the effects. Forty percent of adults surveyed said the economy was their biggest concern, topping the Iraqi war and other key issues, in a Gallup Organization survey of 1,000 Americans conducted June 3-6.

Senator and Presidential hopeful John Kerry said, “A rising tide is supposed to lift all boats,” at the AFL-CIO’s annual convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. “The middle-class boat is taking on water. I believe we can do better than rising costs and shrinking incomes.”

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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.
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