iMail Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Labor Sends its Troops to Boston

IAM members from 13 states joined with nearly 900 union delegates this week at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, where Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry will accept the party’s nomination in closely-watched speech on Thursday, July 29.

“The acceptance speech will be Kerry’s chance to connect with people all across the country,” said Thomas Maynard, District 711 Directing Business Representative and a delegate from Tennessee. “I’m looking forward to it.” Millions of viewers are expected to tune in to the speech that will be broadcast live on Thursday night.

It is economic issues that are unifying labor union delegates this year. The rampant loss of U.S. jobs during the past four years and the Bush administration’s endorsement of outsourcing are frequently mentioned as the most important issues. “I think voters in both parties are getting ready to make a change,” said Cecilia Blackwell, a Kansas delegate and member of IAM Local 774 in Wichita.

The IAM’s effort to make “JOBS Worth Fighting For” a resonant campaign theme can be readily seen in the jobs plank of the party’s platform. “After years of trying to get our politicians to focus on the jobs crisis, this commitment is an important first step,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “The jobs plank commits the Kerry-Edwards ticket and the entire Democratic Party to “fight for American jobs” and “to fight for American Workers.”

Additional issues for union delegates this year are the steady erosion of union organizing rights under the current administration and the alarming rise in health-care costs. “We simply cannot afford four more years of this,” declared Lori Pelletier, a Connecticut delegate and member of Local 700.

More photos and comments from IAM members attending the 2004 Democratic Convention.

Machinists Condemn UAL Attack on Pensions

United Airlines has announced that it will not make any further payments to its employee pension plans while in bankruptcy and it is considering terminating its current pension plans and developing replacement plans.

Terminating the pension plans at United, covering nearly 125,000 active and retired employees, would represent the largest default ever in the airline industry and one of the biggest in U.S. history.

"United Airlines is following a very dangerous path and cannot successfully exit bankruptcy without living up to the commitments they made to their employees,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “IAM representatives and attorneys have been evaluating all options, including legal action, to protect the retirement income United promised our active and retired members. We will act quickly and aggressively to ensure those responsible for endangering our members’ futures are held personally accountable."

International, District and Local IAM representatives met with Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) officials twice since United defaulted on its $72 million July 15 pension-funding obligation.

“United Airlines has betrayed their employees and destroyed what little credibility they had with us,” said Randy Canale, President of IAM District 141. “This airline cannot exist for long without the support of its employees, and right now we don’t see much that is worthy of our support. We are primed for a brutal fight.”

Senate Bill Delivers Hope for FedEx Workers

An IAM-led drive to give workers at FedEx the right to organize under the National Labor Relations Act took a major step forward with the introduction of the Express Carrier Employee Protection Act (S.2687).

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), aims to amend legislation passed in 1996 that specifically limits many FedEx workers’ organizing rights to the highly restrictive guidelines of the Railway Labor Act (RLA).

Under current rules, many workers at an “express carrier” such as FedEx, come under the jurisdiction of the RLA, regardless of the workers relation to air transportation. Drivers, warehouse employees and others at FedEx locations are explicitly forbidden from organizing locally, despite an overwhelming desire in many cases to do so.

“FedEx management lobbied aggressively and successfully for a legal loophole to restrict their workers’ organizing rights in 1996,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Sen. Harkin’s legislation will establish a level playing field and give FedEx workers the same rights to choose a union as similar workers throughout the U.S. FedEx is on a fast track to become the Wal-Mart of the package delivery industry unless we act to prevent that from happening.”

Eastern Territory Notches Organizing Wins

Organizers from the Eastern territory were responsible for bringing more than 300 new members into the IAM family.

District 1 recently organized the Service Contract employees working for DynCorp International LLC located at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, bringing three Aircraft Maintenance employees into the IAM.

District 34
recently organized seven Service Contract employees working for DynCorp International LLC at two locations: Williamstown, West Virginia with two Aircraft Maintenance and Bridgeport, West Virginia with five Aircraft Maintenance.

District Lodge 34
also organized the Health Care employees working for Wright Nursing Rehabilitation Center located in Fairborn, Ohio, bringing 46 new members into the Machinists Union.

District Lodge 4
recently organized the employees working for Philadelphia Naval Public Work Center located at Norfolk, Pennsylvania bringing 300 Metal Trades employees into the Machinists Union.

GVP Lynn Tucker praised District 1 Organizer Gary Anthony and Directing Business Representative Danny Chmelko; District 34 Organizer Shellie Zegarac, Directing Business Representative David Brandenburg and Business Representative Steve Graham; Grand Lodge Representatives Karl Heim, Raymond Briggs and Rosa Lemon, for a job well done.

LCLAA Convention Set For August

The Labor Council For Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) will hold it's 15th National membership meeting and Convention August 25-28, 2004, in Albuquerque, N.M. The Convention theme, "Organize for Power, Vote for Change: Muevete! El Futuro is Now" expresses the LCLAA's efforts to improve the lives of Latino Working families through community organizing, advocacy and the electoral process.

At the Convention, Latinos from across the country will gather to share strategies, coordinate efforts, and build alliances of Latino union members and progressive labor and community allies.

Workshops and training sessions will include a program on the Employee Free Choice Act, Latinos and the Labor Movement, and Latino Labor Power through Creative Organizing and Organizing Immigrant Workers.

Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico is the keynote speaker and the special guest is Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry.

The LCLAA is the Official Latino Constituency Group of the AFL-CIO and the IAM is a continuing supporter of their efforts.

Support Good Jobs-Union Label Week 2004

Union Label Week 2004 begins on Labor Day, Monday, September 6 and runs through Saturday, September 11. The message this year: Support Good Jobs - Buy Union!

Help put Labor back in Labor Day by raising awareness about working family issues. The AFL-CIO has Labor Day sample fliers, background information, fact sheets available.

During Union Label Week we make a special effort to create a better understanding of how unions and union members contribute to America's prosperity and security.

Last Call for Advanced Web & Advanced Editors' Schools

The deadline for signing up for October’s Advanced Web development school is Friday, July 30, 2004. The school is slated for October 17-22 at the William W. Winpisinger Technology Center in Hollywood, Maryland. Prospective students must have attended Basic Web Development and must currently be running an IAM website.

The deadline for the Advanced Editors class is August 2, 2004. The school is scheduled for November 7-12. Participants should be current newsletter editors who have been publishing their newsletters for at least two years.

Please contact the IAM Communications Department for more information at 301-967-4520.