iMail Thursday, December 2, 2004
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Labor issues you care about in streaming video

Video: Pratt Workers Rally for Fair Contract
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On Tuesday, November 30th, several hundred IAM members and supporters from nearly a dozen other unions rallied in front of Pratt and Whitney's corporate headquarters in East Hartford, CT.

Republicans Squash Overtime Pay Protection
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President Bush effectively used strong arm tactics to kill any chance workers had of seeing their overtime pay right saved last week.

Congress Approves Federal Civilian Pay Raises
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On Saturday, November 20th members of Congress approved the 3.5 percent pay raise for civilian federal workers.

Hearts and Minds Provide Precious Gifts
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The IAM's annual Guide Dogs of America fundraising dinner turned out a record breaking crowd this past weekend in Las Vegas.

Bi-Partisan Call Unheard in U.S. Senate
(streaming | download | help)
Bi-partisanship is a phrase without meaning in the United States Senate this week.

A Neighborhood Full of Surprises
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Follow Tom Buffenbarger as he canvases Laconia, New Hampshire for votes and knocks on AMFA’s door.

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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


IAM Pratt & Whitney Rally Draws Hundreds

Scores of union members from across Connecticut rallied alongside IAM members at Pratt & Whitney headquarters in East Hartford, CT, where union leaders called on management to address workers’ concerns at the bargaining table or face a strike when the current contract expires on Dec. 5.

Click here to view an IAM video of the rally (A downloadable version is available at

P&W management negotiators have refused to provide detailed proposals on critical economic issues since the contract talks began. “All we have seen is take-away after take-away,” said Jim Parent, District 26 ADBR and lead union negotiator. “We have been telling management right from the beginning, in view of your take-away proposals, it is important for the Union to see the rest of your economic package.”

Key issues for IAM members at Pratt include job security, affordable healthcare and the ability to retire with dignity after a lifetime of hard work. Despite substantial profits, and with less than three days before the contract expires, the company has yet to address these issues.

Workers at the rally made it clear they are prepared to strike if the company fails to adequately meet their demands. Click here for more information about the looming showdown at Pratt & Whitney.

Electrolux Move Puts U.S. Workers on Ice

Appliance maker Electrolux is preparing to move production of its 5 cu. ft compact freezer from St. Cloud, MN to China, resulting in the loss of hundreds of U.S. jobs.

This latest offshore exodus will cut deep into the social fabric of St. Cloud, MN (pop. 85,000), where the loss of high-paying jobs at Electrolux is certain to cause more job losses in the community.

The move recalls Maytag’s recent move to Reynosa, Mexico from Galesburg, IL where more than 1,600 manufacturing jobs were lost and local officials expect as many as 3,000 additional jobs to disappear as the economic fallout spreads.

When questioned by union officials, managers at Electrolux said the move would cut production by approximately 300,000 freezer units in 2005 and there was “no guarantee” cuts would not follow.

The company’s announcement regarding the number of workers who will be laid off is expected soon. Earlier furlough estimates have ranged from 230 to 300. IAM District 165 represents nearly 1,700 workers at the Electrolux plant in St. Cloud.

Judge Hears US Airways
Bid to Gut Labor Pacts

On Dec. 2, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Stephen Mitchell will convene hearings over the airline's Section 1113c request to abrogate labor contracts covering flight attendants, ticket agents and nearly 9,000 IAM members at the airline. US Airways filed the 1113(c) motion on Nov. 12 in addition to an 1114 motion to terminate retiree benefits.

The judge has only two options when ruling on an 1113c motion; reject the company’s bid and leave the labor contract intact, or approve the application and terminate the labor agreement entirely.

A ruling on the motion is not expected immediately and contracts will remain unchanged during this time except for the temporary modifications previously ordered by the court, which remain in place until February 15, 2005.

IAM representatives and attorneys will attend the hearing and participate at every step of the process in an effort to reach a consensual agreement that respects our members’ contributions and makes further court action unnecessary.

Wal-Mart’s Favorite Union

The recent announcement that Wal-Mart will “allow” union representation at its stores in mainland China landed with a thud in North America where the retail giant routinely spends millions to thwart union organizing campaigns.

“Should associates request formation of a union, Wal-Mart China would respect their wishes and honor its obligation under China’s Trade Union Law,” said Wal-Mart in a seemingly benign declaration of its union-friendly policy in China.

Wal-Mart’s statement made no mention of the fact that independent unions are illegal in China and that the Communist Party controls local branches of the All China Federation of Trade Unions with managers routinely named by government officials to oversee union affairs.

For the 123 million workers who belong to the Chinese labor federation, union membership provides no independent voice or control over wages or working conditions. Efforts to reform the management-controlled bodies have been met with brutal suppression and jail terms for labor activists brave enough to speak out.

Meanwhile, the arc of Wal-Mart’s influence continues to drive down wages and benefits across North America. And not just for the 1.4 million “associates” at Wal-Mart who earn less than $7.50 an hour. Manufacturers who supply Wal-Mart’s stores are frequently forced into cost-cutting death spirals that drive wages and benefits for U.S. and Canadian workers closer to third world levels.

FTAA Protest Should Not be Forgotten

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the FTAA protests in Miami, where thousands of heavily armed police gave peaceful opponents of U.S. trade policies a taste of the First Amendment under the Bush administration.

Using taxpayer funds earmarked for homeland security, the Miami Police Department deployed helicopters, armored personnel carriers and squadrons of riot-ready police to “protect” foreign trade ministers gathered in Miami to advance the trade accord known as the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA).

A peaceful march through downtown Miami by union members and retirees was disrupted when police opened fire with tear gas guns. An Independent Review Panel (IRP) condemn the police action as an “unrestrained and disproportionate use of force.” The IRP report also included testimony from union members and retirees who were forcibly prevented by police from attending the lawful protest. “For a brief period of time,” said the report, “it appeared as if Miami was a ‘police state’.”

In addition to the IRP investigation, a citizen review board for the Miami police is conducting its own investigation and has sued the Miami Police to obtain records it needs to complete its work. Appearing before that panel, union retirees in their 70’s and 80’s described similarities between what they saw in Miami and what they witnessed in Europe during World War II. Click here for more information about police abuse in Miami during the FTAA protests.

Blast In China Traps, Kills Mine Workers

China’s notorious mining industry claimed more victims last week after a gas explosion in a coal mine south of Beijing buried more than 166 miners. State-run newspapers reported a fire at the same mine a week earlier.Workers who expressed concerns over safety at the mine were ordered to return to work or face fines and other punishment.

China's mining industry is considered the most dangerous in the world. More than 4,000 men have died in the first nine months of this year. Official figures are unlikely to tell the whole story, say rights groups such as the China Labor Bulletin (CLB), which puts annual deaths at around 20,000. "The issue of owners trying to pay off compensation to cover up accidents, that is quite common," said Dominique Muller of the CLB.

In May 2002, 21 miners were trapped by an explosion in a mine in northwest China. Instead of attempting to rescue them, the mine's owner destroyed employee records and whitewashed over scorch marks, concealing evidence of the blast. Every year thousands of miners driven by deepening poverty risk their lives in China’s coal mining industry.
China is the world's biggest coal producer and the world's seventh-biggest economy. It depends upon coal for about 70 per cent of its surging energy needs. And yet, retrieving the coal remains a deadly task.

New Video Format Makes Viewing Easier

IAM-produced videos on are now available in streaming and downloadable formats to allow users with different internet connection speeds more options for viewing.

Users on a fast broadband connection should click on 'streaming' to view IAM videos in the best possible format. Users on a slower broadband or dial up connection should left-click 'download' to view the video, or right-click 'download' and select 'save target as' to save the entire video to your hard drive for viewing after the download is complete. Users will still need to use free Windows Media Player 9 to view IAM-produced videos.


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The 2005 IAM Calendar is now available. Send $7 to: IAM Calendar, 9000 Machinists Place,
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772

Who cares about us? Check out the online edition of the 2004 IAM Journal.

The winners of the 2004 Newsletter & Website Contest.

IAM2004 See who works for you, how the IAM is structured, and what services the IAM offers. Go to: IAM2004

Cincinnati Skyline The official site for the 36th Grand Lodge Convention held in 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Check the "Highlights" section for covrage of Convention events and photos.

Check out NewsBriefs, a regular online news service for IAM editors, webstewards & communicators. En Francais.

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 The fast-growing site offers forums for Ford customers, technicians and dealers to exchange information.