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  • IAM Strategizes on Future of Work in South

    The South has become a haven for U.S. manufacturing and foreign investment. It’s easy to see why.

    Without a union-represented workforce, corporations pay lower wages and provide less benefits. When a workplace is unionized, so-called right-to-work laws curb union power. Most politicians don’t say that overtly; they tout their “flexibility” and a “results-driven workforce.”

    The same politicians leave taxpayers on the hook to pay billions of dollars in tax breaks to companies that often don’t pay fair wages.

    But there’s reason to believe things are changing.

    “We are working to redefine what it means to organize in the South,” says IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin.

    In 2016, the IAM won 26 organizing campaigns in the region, bringing in 3,000 new members, reports Ted Reed in Forbes.

    More than 50 IAM Southern Territory leadership and staff members recently met for two days in Biloxi, MS to strategize on how to build on that success.

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    “There’s hope there, if we do it right,” said Chuck Bennett, President of IAM Local 470 in Lake Charles, LA.

    Blondin says the 14-state region is making a huge difference in the lives of working people in the South.

    “I am so very proud of the leaders in this room,” Blondin said as he opened the summit. “You make the lives of working people in the South better each and every day. You make it happen for our members and the middle class, continuously protecting workers and their rights across the Southern Territory.”

    The territory has recently ramped up efforts to organize federal and Service Contract Act workers, many of whom work at military bases scattered across the South. It’s reshaping and growing the IAM’s footprint in the South. The union was founded in an Atlanta railroad pit in 1888.

    “This great union started in the South. We have roots here,” said Blondin. “The members in the Southern Territory want to make sure their Brothers and Sisters in the future will have that opportunity. That’s the motivation behind us looking for different and unique ways to organize in our Southern home.

    Louisiana Local President Bennett says the strategies he has learned in the last two days are going to drastically change how he approaches organizing back home.

    “We need to listen more. Not tell the working class in our communities what they need but rather listen to them and let them tell us what they want and need,” said Bennett. “You have to want it—to inspire you to organize. And now we can take all this home and start chasing those leads.”

    The post IAM Strategizes on Future of Work in South appeared first on IAMAW.


  • It’s a Good Day to Thank This Boston Machinist

    Boston’s railways will stay clearer during today’s blizzard because of the ingenuity of IAM Local 264 member Michael Haywood.

    Haywood, an MBTA Machinist, came up with the idea during a barrage of powerful 2015 winter storms. The transit system, which has more than a half-million riders daily, had been brought to its knees.

    The National Guard had been brought in to shovel. Haywood, known to his co-workers as “Haywire,” knew there had to be a better way.

    “So he thought of one: mounting a John Deere vehicle often used to scoop dirt—it’s called a skid-steer loader—onto railcar wheels in order to clear the snow-packed tracks,” reports the Boston Globe.

    The contraption worked. And MBTA hired a company to build eight machines based on Haywood’s prototype.

    Here it is in action:

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    “It’s like using a scalpel versus a hatchet,” Haywood said.

    But despite the resourcefulness of Haywood and MBTA Machinists, more than 500 IAM Local 264 jobs, including Haywood’s, are on the line in Massachusetts.

    “How does MBTA reward dedication and creativity?” asks District 15 Business Representative Mike Vartabedian, a former “T” Mechanic. “The very next week, the MBTA proposes to outsource his job. Michael’s ingenuity speaks for itself. John Deere bringing his retrofit in-house, literally offering him a job, confirms it. Brother Haywood is a strong voice for the IAM on the shop floor, and a real leader calling on the Massachusetts Fiscal and Management Control Board to reject privatization efforts.”

    These hard-working, experienced mechanics have the best “miles between breakdowns” record in the country, but are facing mass layoffs as a result of misguided privatization efforts. For generations, Local 264 has been creating ways to keep MBTA’s buses and trains running every single day.

    Prior privatization efforts have been failures, and the public cannot trust the numbers put forth by private companies that are backed by biased data sources.

    Massachusetts workers and riders agree that the time to invest in public transit is now.

    Click here to email the MBTA. Tell them to reject efforts to outsource core MBTA services.

    “Our members constantly provide solutions for any obstacle they face,” said Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro, Sr. “No matter the situation, the dedication and resolve they bring to the job day-in-day-out in order to get the job done is second to none. Still, they face the constant threat of privatizing their jobs to the lowest bidder, which is nothing but a bargaining chip to drive down wages, benefits and working conditions.”

    “Nobody understands these jobs and what it takes to keep MBTA moving like the dedicated professionals servicing them,” said District 15 Directing Business Representative Juan Negron. “The highly skilled IAM members bring a level of professionalism, experience, and ‘can do, will do’ to the task at hand, every day, to solve any problems they may face.

    “Yet the state wants to outsource these innovative, dedicated workers in an effort to pay for their own lack of investment into the system, leaving equipment, facilities antiquated, and in disrepair.”

    Learn more about the campaign to save Massachusetts public transit at InvestNowMA.org.

    The post It’s a Good Day to Thank This Boston Machinist appeared first on IAMAW.


  • Inside the Sinister Attack on Federal ‘Official Time’

    If you’re a federal employee or contractor, helping your coworkers manage disputes on the job could soon mean losing your retirement.

    Two bills (H.R. 1293 and H.R. 1364) charging through Congress would greatly hamper federal employees’ right to fair union representation. The “Official Time Reform Act” (H.R. 1364) would stop pension accrual for time spent representing fellow federal employees on the job, also called “official time.”

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    “Federal managers and employees use official time to make our government work more efficiently and save taxpayer money,” said Price. “They use it to help create a safe work environment, resolve disputes, head off discrimination on the job and represent all employees in grievance and disciplinary actions—whether they are union members or not.”

    Current law explicitly prohibits union activities while on official time, including any internal union business, solicitation of new members, election of union officers and any partisan political issues.

    Call the Capitol at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative. Tell them that H.R. 1364 and 1293 are unnecessary and cruel attacks on federal workers.

    Then, send an email telling your Representative to vote No on H.R. 1364 and 1293.

    IAM and NFFE-IAM represent more than 100,000 federal workers.

    “At a time when the checks and balances of government are arguably deteriorating, these bills will depress the use of official time, a valuable management tool that encourages transparency and accountability in government,” NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin wrote in a letter to Congress.

    The post Inside the Sinister Attack on Federal ‘Official Time’ appeared first on IAMAW.


  • Congress is Putting a Target on the Backs of Veterans Affairs Workers

    The men and women who care for U.S. military veterans are again under attack.

    The House Veterans Affairs Committee has approved legislation that would shred VA employees’ rights at work. It is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives as early as this week.

    The VA Accountability First Act (H.R. 1259), introduced by anti-worker Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), would sharply curtail due process at the agency. It would sharply reduce the amount of time to appeal termination, suspensions and demotions.

    NFFE-IAM lays out the critical issues with H.R. 1259:

    • H.R. 1259 will place veterans in danger because front line medical and administrative staff will fear for their jobs if they speak up against management or political appointees.
    • This fear is very real since the bill will create at-will employment by removing systematic protections against prohibited personnel practices against subordinates.
    • Systematic protections, such as due process, are there for the system not the individual.
    • The whistleblower protections cited in the bill are wholly ineffective and provide no real protection for those who speak up for veterans.
    • The bill attacks legitimate due process for those accused of poor performance or misconduct by forcing ridiculously short timeliness on employees and their counsels for representation.
    • The bill limits the legal options of administrative judges at the MSPB, a clear sign that the intent of the bill is to corrupt fair and best workforce practices.
    • This bill will disproportionately affect veterans who work at the VA.
    • This bill does nothing to address resource, recruiting and retention at the VA; in fact, it will create bigger problems in each of these areas.

    “This bill is being rushed through the House because it cannot withstand legitimate debate,” NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin wrote in a letter to Congress. “The sponsors of this bill do not have the best interests of veterans in mind. If they did, they would not attack the systematic protections that serve as a standard-bearer for truth in reporting care and treatment.”

    Call the Capitol at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative. Tell your Representative to reject H.R. 1259, an attack on Veterans Affairs employees and veterans who receive care.

    The post Congress is Putting a Target on the Backs of Veterans Affairs Workers appeared first on IAMAW.


  • The Healthcare Bill is Even Worse Than We Thought

    Twenty-four million people would lose health coverage in the next decade under the GOP’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported Monday.

    In January, President Trump promised to replace the ACA with a plan that provided “insurance for everybody.”

    Fourteen million people would lose insurance in the next year alone, the report says. Premiums would be increased by an average of 15 to 20 percent, with older Americans paying “substantially more.”

    The plan, known as the American Health Care Act, greatly curtails Medicaid expansion and scraps the requirement for employers with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to full-time employees. In return, the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans will save $275 billion in taxes over the next 10 years.

    The bill repeals the increase in the Medicare payroll tax for high earners, reducing the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by four years, to 2025 from 2029. People in their 50s and 60s could see premiums rise by $2,000 to $3,000 per year, according to the AARP.

    “This bill will make Americans sicker and poorer,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “President Trump promised to replace the ACA with a plan that expanded health care coverage at a lower cost. This plan does neither but rather provides the wealthiest Americans and insurance corporations with enormous tax cuts.”

    The plan has already cleared two House committees and GOP leadership hopes to move the “repeal and replace” bills quickly.

    Tell your Representative to scrap this attack on our health care. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

    The post The Healthcare Bill is Even Worse Than We Thought appeared first on IAMAW.


  • ‘Insulting’ Contract Offer Could Lead to Strikes at Ontario Nissan

    Picket lines may go up outside Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario’s Superior Nissan, Superior Custom Detailing and Superior Used Cars on March 20. And it may not stop there.

    “The employer and their legal counsel have been uncooperative in negotiations thus far,” said IAM Grand Lodge Representative Ralph Martin. “We have a 100 percent strike mandate from our membership who are trying to bargain their first collective agreement. The economic package offered is an insult and there are serious issues concerning recognition of apprenticeships.”

    The IAM organized Superior Nissan in July 2016. Negotiations for a first collective agreement went well for non-monetary issues, but hit a roadblock in January 2017.

    “This is one of the top performing auto dealerships in the Sault and management refuses to recognize the value the employees bring to the performance of the dealership,” said Martin. “These workers joined us because of what we have negotiated with other dealerships in the city.”

    The IAM also represents workers at Maitland Motors, Highland Ford, Prouse Motors and Superior Dodge.

    “Both Superior Dodge and Superior Nissan are owned by WGN Autocorp, so we could extend our picket lines to Superior Dodge should the need arise.”

    The 25 new members of IAM Local 2332 include Auto Technicians, Service Writers and Parts Personnel at Superior Nissan, Detailers and Installers at Superior Custom Detailing and Auto Technicians who refurbish cars for resale at Superior Used Cars.

    The IAM represents automotive workers at dealerships on Vancouver Island, the lower mainland of British Columbia, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Markham, Toronto, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

    The post ‘Insulting’ Contract Offer Could Lead to Strikes at Ontario Nissan appeared first on IAMAW.


  • IAM Welcomes Eastern Territory Special Representatives

    Craig Hughes

    International President Bob Martinez announced the appointment of District 15 Business Representative Craig Hughes and District 15 Assistant Directing Business Representative Jim Conigliaro, Jr. to the position of Eastern Territory Grand Lodge Special Representatives. The appointment is effective March 1, 2017.

    “On behalf of the IAM, I would like to congratulate both Craig and Jim,” said Martinez. “The members of the Eastern Territory will benefit greatly from the wealth of knowledge, drive and experience these two leaders bring with them.”

    Hughes initiated into Boston Local 264 in 1992 as a Mechanic with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). He became active in the IAM and was elected as a Shop Steward in 1999, and went on to be elected as the Chief Steward in 2005. Along the way Hughes also served on the Negotiation Committee, District 15 Delegate and as the President of the New England Conference of Machinists. Additionally he was chosen as a Delegate to the IAM Convention and served on the MNPL Planning Committee.

    In 2011, Hughes was elected to the full time staff position as Local 264 Secretary-Treasurer/Organizer, until his appointment as District 15 Business Representative in 2016.

    Jim Conigliaro, Jr.

    Conigliaro is a labor lawyer currently serving in a dual role as Assistant Directing Business Representative (ADBR) and General Counsel for District 15, representing over 19,000 active and retired members throughout the northeast.

    As General Counsel, Conigliaro represents the union in traditional labor and management relations, collective bargaining, grievance mediation/arbitration and related court litigation. As ADBR, he represents thousands of machinists and black-car drivers through organizing, collective bargaining, and political and social campaigns. In 2015, he joined the Executive Board for the AFL-CIO’s NYC Central Labor Council and was appointed by Gov. Cuomo to sit on the Board of Directors of the Black Car Workers’ Compensation Fund.

    In 2016, Conigliaro founded the Independent Drivers Guild, an organization created in response to the pleas of For-Hire-Vehicle drivers and 20 years of various organizing strategies utilized by the Machinists in the NYC black car industry.

    The post IAM Welcomes Eastern Territory Special Representatives appeared first on IAMAW.


  • Star Ratings Don’t Pay Bills: Tell Uber to Include In-App Tipping

    The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is considering a rule to require a tipping option for all apps used to arrange and pay for For-Hire-Vehicle rides.

    Uber has been stubbornly unwilling to give our riders an easy option to tip. As a result, New York’s working drivers are losing thousands of dollars they need for vehicle upkeep and supporting their families in one of the most expensive cities in America. Uber makes the problem worse by misleading riders by telling them that “tips are not expected.”

    To make this clear: tips are not included in the fare.

    It’s clear to that passengers and drivers alike must mobilize to win this basic right for service economy workers–and get Uber to add an easy tipping option.

    Sign the petition telling Uber management to include an in-app tipping option. Star ratings don’t pay bills.

    IAM District 15 and the Independent Drivers Guild represent more than 45,000 For-Hire Vehicle drivers in New York City.

    Follow IDG on Facebook and Twitter.

    The post Star Ratings Don’t Pay Bills: Tell Uber to Include In-App Tipping appeared first on IAMAW.


  • IAM Members Speak Out to Save Florida Sugar Industry

    Florida lawmakers are considering a job-killing proposal to buy up and flood thousands of acres of south Florida farmland. Senate Bill 10 would result in yet another sugarcane mill closure and devastation to the local neighborhoods where IAM members live and work.

    The communities around Lake Okeechobee have already been hit hard by closures and job losses, and this new politically charged push has IAM Local 2152 member William Bland especially concerned.

    WATCH: Saving South Florida Sugar Workers

    “I have been able to put my daughter through school by way of the sugar industry,” said Bland. “I have a granddaughter who is school right now. I’m helping raise her. Without this income, I don’t know if I can be able to do it.”

    The plan proposed by Florida Senate President Joe Negron has residents, workers and their union leaders, like IAM District 166 Business Representative Robert Miller, questioning its justification when other viable options exist.

    “To date, 120,000 acres of farmland south of the lake have been taken out of production and dedicated to restoration,” Miller wrote in a Palm Beach Post op-ed. “Yet, we were surprised and angered to learn that the state isn’t even using all this land yet. Why buy more when there’s plenty of state-owned land to put to use?”

    “The sugar industry is the only way of life here,” said Bland. “It impacts me directly, I might not have a job and I might not have a way to provide for my family.”

    The post IAM Members Speak Out to Save Florida Sugar Industry appeared first on IAMAW.


  • Minnesota Members Get Ready for Contract Talks

    IAM Local 623 Negotiating Committee and staff attend Negotiation Preparation for Bargaining Committees program at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, MD. Front row from left: Colleen Murphy-Cooney, Directing Buisness Representative; Terry Bachman, Steward; Nathan Luberts, Steward. Back row from left: Timothy Heisick, Committee Member; Todd Grundhoefer, Committee Member; Scott Burger, Steward; Geny Ulloa, Grand Lodge Special Representative.

    The Local 623 Negotiating Committee, along with staff members from Local 623, Directing Business Representative Colleen Murphy-Cooney and Midwest Territory Special Representative Geny Ulloa, participated in the Negotiation Preparation for Bargaining Committees program at the William W. Winpisinger Center in Hollywood, MD.

    Local 623 represents employees at DeZurik in Sartell, MN, which produce a variety of process industry valves, including water treatment, sewage treatment and water distribution valves.

    Recognizing that this promises to be a difficult round of negotiations, the Committee strategized to change bargaining history, map a new direction for relations with the company, put better language in the contract and build solidarity in the bargaining unit. The current contract with DeZurik expires June 3, 2017.

    “The long hours that the committee put into their plan to achieve successful negotiations was well received by each and every member of the committee,” said District Representative Colleen Murphy-Cooney. “The committee was grateful for the opportunity to attend the Negotiation Prep class at William W. Winpisinger. This class has prepared the committee to unite themselves their co-workers to rally together to negotiate a fair and equitable contract.”

    The post Minnesota Members Get Ready for Contract Talks appeared first on IAMAW.