Thursday, August 28,  2003

Unity: A Labor Day Message
from IP Tom Buffenbarger

Unity is an abstract ideal. It implies harmony and agreement. And yet, "unity" is neither natural nor commonplace. Whenever individuals act in concert, there is at least one degree of separation. Original intent, enlightened self-interest, individual talents, hopes and aspirations -- all tend to push us apart.

Throw cultural, political and economic differences into the mix and centrifugal forces take over. Like rays from the sun, we spin off in a billion directions. With each passing second, we grow weaker and more distant from our neighbors.

As the separation increases, wedges are driven between us. Walls are built. And, as our isolation becomes ever more apparent, our adversaries pick us off ... one by one until the ideal of unity fades into oblivion.

The opposite occurs in a labor union. There, unity is a concrete concept, one driven by common sense and uncommon selflessness, one made necessary by the forces arrayed against us.

No, our unity is not perfect. A perverse disunity often strikes us at critical moments because we, too, are subject to the cross-pressures in any human endeavor.

But we have found ways to compensate: Sublimating one's own preferences for the good of all; working relentlessly for a mutual benefit; turning defeat and disappointment into determined defiance. We routinely and successfully employ unity to bargain collectively for better wages or less onerous working conditions.

Such unity came at a high cost. And yet, it also produced inordinate benefits.

Just look around. America is a more perfect union because of what this nation's labor movement has fought for: a 40-hour week, paid vacations, health insurance, pensions and, most important, a living wage that enables us to provide for our families.

As we approach Labor Day 2003, let us celebrate our unity and what that unity has given all of us.

Pullman Porter Museum Honors Diane Babineaux

Midwest Territory Communicator Ed Lewis (l) accompanies IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux as she receives the 2003 ‘Gentle Warrior’ award from Lyn Hughes, founder of the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum.    

At a ceremony honoring contributions by African Americans to the U.S. labor movement, the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum in Chicago presented IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux with its 2003 “Gentle Warrior” award.

The award recognizes African Americans who exemplify the gritty determination and warrior spirit for which A. Philip Randolph was known throughout his career. Past awardees include Leroy Shackleford, the last International Vice President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) and members of the Vulcan Society, an organization of black firefighters who lost 12 men during the 9/11 tragedy.

Kourpias Named to Labor Hall of Fame
Former IAM International President George Kourpias will be inducted into the Northwest Iowa Labor Council’s Labor Hall of Fame during a Labor Day ceremony in Sioux City, IA.

More than 600 union members and their families are expected to attend the event, which is held each year at the council’s annual Labor Day picnic. The award honors labor leaders who have contributed a lifetime to improving the rights, respect and working conditions of Iowa’s men and women.

“We believe this is the most important labor award given in Northwest Iowa,” said Mike Peters, Labor Liaison for the Northwest Iowa Labor Council. “As International President of the Machinists Union, George Kourpias was an impassioned voice for working men and women in Iowa and across the country. He continues to speak out today as president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. It’s our privilege to name him to the Labor Hall of Fame.”

Bill Moyers Special: ‘Rich World, Poor Women’
On September 5, the award winning documentary series, ‘NOW With Bill Moyers’ will take a hard look at how poor women in third world countries are being used to fuel the global retail economy.

The hour-long program, “Rich World, Poor Women” examines the stark conditions produced by international trade agreements, including factories in Thailand, where thousands of women are paid $4 a day to spend up to 18 hours gluing tennis shoes or stitching T-shirts for export to the U.S.

“Anyone who wants to understand how these trade deals are affecting the lives of women around the world should tune in to this important documentary,” says IAM Women’s Dept. Director Cheryl Eastburn.

The show will air Sept. 5 on PBS stations nationwide. Check your local listing for times or go to www.pbs.org/now/sched.html

Time to Act on Bogus Medicare ‘Reform’ Bills
The Alliance for Retired Americans, headed by former IAM International President George Kourpias, is leading demonstrations across the country against so-called Medicare “reform” bills (S.1 and H.R. 1) that threaten to eliminate important benefits in the health care program.

Hundreds of alliance activists are attending town hall meetings across the country and visiting with legislators to demand they vote against privatizing Medicare and to retain existing employer-provided drug benefits.

A massive “Rally and Lobby Day” on Capitol Hill is planned for Sept. 4, as part of the Alliances’ Legislative Conference, where seniors will tell members of Congress to improve Medicare or leave it alone, according to President Kourpias.

Read Past iMail | Email Your Opinion | Visit www.goiam.org | Print Version | Sign-Up for iMail

he Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act (HR 1886) will require insurance companies to cover a minimum hospital stay of 48 hours for patients undergoing mastectomy breast surgery. You can help ensure this critical legistlation is passed by signing the online petition now.

The Summer 2003 IAM Journal is now online. Skyrocketing health care costs are causing Premium Shock for members and employers. The IAM Journal looks at what's causing the increases and what can be done to change America's health care system.

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.

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.