Tuesday,  November 18,  2003

 GOP Touts Sham Medicare ‘Reform’ Bill

President Bush leaned on congressional Republicans to pass his phony Medicare reform measure before Congress adjourns at the end of the week. The compromise measure hammered out by a House-Senate conference committee faces fierce opposition from Senate Democrats who may mount a filibuster against it.

The White House plan for a Medicare prescription drug benefit bars federal government from negotiating for lower drug prices as it routinely does for drug providers to federal programs. Additionally, critics say more than 4 million retirees could lose their employer-provided benefits under the plan.

“If this is such a wonderful plan, I wonder why its congressional supporters exempted themselves from its coverage,” noted IP Tom Buffenbarger. “The first rule in medicine is ‘Do no harm.’ This bill does just the opposite. It siphons cash from our seniors to fill the coffers of insurance companies and the drug industry.”

Both of those industries spent millions promoting the proposals and poured millions in the campaigns of candidates pledged to support it. The pharmaceutical industry alone spent more than $8 million in lobbying Congress. Critics claim the industry could gain as much as $139 billion in profits from the ban against drug price negotiations.

George J. Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, denounced the Bush ploy as a “lemon’ that does nothing to benefit older Americans. “This bill forces beneficiaries to pay more for health care, turns Medicare over to private insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry, but does nothing to lower drug prices for the neediest among us.”

On a related note, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the drug industry’s trade association, spent more than $8.5 million in the first half of this year to defeat House legislation which would allow the reimportation of lower-cost U.S.-made prescription drugs.

“This bill cannot pass the Senate,” declared Senator Ted Kennedy, D-MA. The influential Democrat’s opposition means the White House and its GOP allies in the Senate must mount a major offensive over the next few days if they hope to pass the sham legislation before the holiday adjournment.

To help stop the phony Medicare bill, click here to send a message to your Senators and Representative (or go to www.goiam.org , click on Action Alerts and Advocacy and then “Tell Congress to Stop the Phony Medicare Drug Plan”).

Milwaukee Says ‘Keep It American Made’


IAM members Jim Giedd, left, of Local 873 and District 121 DBR Dan Hilbert join protest in Milwaukee against the FTAA.

As part of the nationwide protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), more than 500 union activists took part in a labor rally at Zeidler Park in Milwaukee, where Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby called the proposed trade agreement "NAFTA on steroids."

More that 75,000 jobs have been lost in Wisconsin since Jan. 1, 2001, many due to unfair trade policies and the absence of a national employment policy.

IAM Midwest Territory GVP James E. Brown spoke for many Machinists in the crowd when he said, "Every union meeting starts with the pledge of allegiance to the United States of America. It is obvious that most U.S. corporations and their CEO's only hold allegiance to money, power and greed."

Speaker after speaker at the rally pointed to the job-killing effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the model for FTAA.

"If NAFTA has robbed us of 750,000 manufacturing jobs, can you imagine what adding 30 more countries will do? It will make FTAA the Incredible Hulk of job destruction," said AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard L. Trumka.

Thousands of trade unionists and stop-FTAA activists are converging on FTAA trade ministerial meeting in Miami, FL this week. For more information, go to www.aflcio.org/issuespolitics/globaleconomy/

Appeals Court to Hear US Airways Outsourcing Case
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit is set to hear oral argument on Jan. 13, 2004 in the IAM-US Airways subcontracting dispute.

The U.S. District court ruled on Oct. 21 that US Airways’ use of a foreign-owned maintenance facility to overhaul the carrier’s Airbus aircraft violated the scope clause of the IAM-US Airways collective bargaining agreement.

On November 5, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals denied US Airways’ request for an emergency stay of the District Court’s preliminary injunction and set the stage for the hearing now scheduled to take place on Jan. 13 in Philadelphia.

IAM attorneys will argue in defense of the contract language preventing US Airways from subcontracting the maintenance work and will file a written brief opposing US Airways' request to overturn the lower court’s ruling.  The IAM's brief will be available on the District 141-M website, www.iam141m.org, as soon as it is filed on Nov. 19.

Cash Balance Pension Scam Blocked
Congressional negotiators reached agreement on language that will make it harder for employers to convert traditional employee pension plans to benefit-robbing cash balance pension plans.

The compromise worked out between House and Senate conferees would prohibit the Treasury Department from using any funds to formulate new regulations condoning the conversion of traditional defined benefit pension plans to cash balance plans.

Hundreds of corporations rushed to cash in on cash balance plans before a moratorium blocked the practice. Opposition skyrocketed as workers reported thousands of dollars in pensions cuts when their employers switched to cash balance plans. Last summer, a federal judge in Illinois ruled cash balance plans violated federal age discrimination laws.

Democrats in Congress who opposed the pension scam welcomed the agreement. “We have defeated the President’s plan to cut millions of older workers’ pension in half,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA). “President Bush created a firestorm when he announced his intention to allow companies to freely change their pension plans, even if those changes would result in the loss of half their employees’ pension benefits.”

International Day for the
Elimination of Violence Against Women

The United Nations has adopted November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This date marks the anniversary of the brutal 1961 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic ordered to be put to death by then Dominican Ruler Rafael Trujillo.

Women’s rights groups around the world are organizing anti-violence awareness activities. Building on the UN action, the International Transport Federation (ITF) passed it’s own resolution recognizing Elimination of Violence Against Women. “I urge all of our Women’s Committee members to do whatever they can to support our ITF affiliate to help end violence against women once and for all,” said IAM Women’s Department Director Cheryl Eastburn. “Our efforts will be help raise awareness about this devastating epidemic.”

IAM members are encouraged to participate in the day’s activities, including distribution through its Women’s Network of the ITF Resolution No. 1:  Violence Against Women – A Social Problem and wearing a purple ribbon as a reminder that violence against women still exists and must be exterminated.

For further information or to receive materials for this event please contact the IAM Women’s Department at (301) 967-4747, fax (301) 967-3427 or email ceastburn@iamaw.org.


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Two candidates came to Cincinnati to vie for the IAM's endorsement for President in 2004. Only one came away with the prize.  Read all about it in the online version of The IAM Journal.

 . . . and it's time to order your copy. This years calendar is filled with the winners of the annual IAM photograohy contest. Plus, for every calendar sold, the IAM will donate one dollar to the Guide Dogs of America. Last year, calendar sales earned $25, 000 for the GDA. Click here to download a calendar order form. Print it our on your home computer and mail it back to the IAM.

Once each year an independent panel of judges decide which locals and districts publish the best newsletters and best websites. Check out the winners.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is back flying combat missions. This time, however, he seeks to shoot down the proposed lease of Boeing 767 tankers by the US Air Force. And he is using every weapon at his disposal to chalk up another kill. Help stop John McCain and save North American jobs.

FlatRateTech is an organization “created for and by Ford and Lincoln Mercury service technicians solely to speak as one loud voice rather than 50,000 smaller voices,” according to their website http://flatratetech.com. The fast-growing site offers forums for Ford customers, technicians and dealers to exchange information.


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.