Local Lodge 263
Winter 2009 Newsletter2/15/2009
Winter 09 Newsletter LL263
Union Members Heed Obamas Call to Service
Hundreds of union volunteers, including IAM members from across the country,
honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with community service projects
in New Orleans, LA.
Hundreds of AFL-CIO union members traveled to New Orleans, LA, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by taking part in community service activities aimed at helping residents still struggling to overcome the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
IAM members joined with fellow union members who fanned out to 20 locations around the city with shovels, rakes, tools and supplies to provide a grassroots answer to President Obamas call for volunteer service as a way to honor the late civil rights leader.
Community service has always been a cornerstone of the Machinists union, said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux, who led the IAM delegation to the Crescent City. And there is no better time than Dr. Kings birthday to continue that tradition.
In addition to helping to rebuild local members homes, the surge of union volunteer activity included providing electrical service to a local church, resurfacing ball fields and restoring a local African-American museum.
There is a mistaken perception that New Orleans is fully recovered, said Babineaux. While the French Quarter and the Central Business District are doing well, many working class neighborhoods are still reeling from the effects of the storm and the growing economic recession.
Sections of the city, including parts of St. Bernards Parish and the infamous Ninth Ward remain uninhabitable, while determined homeowners throughout the city continue to repair roofs, foundations and utilities damaged in the flooding. Federal assistance, which was all but absent in the days and weeks after the levees broke, continues to be difficult for homeowners to access.
IAM Defends Buy America Provisions
The IAM is calling on Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C., to reject a campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to strip Buy America provisions from the pending $825 billion economic stimulus package.
We are in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, with more than 11 million Americans out of work and millions more on the brink of being laid off, said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. It is outrageous for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to assist foreign contractors hoping to gain access to funds clearly designed to stimulate local and state economies.
In a recent letter to House and Senate leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and 13 high-powered lobbying organizations warned Congressional leaders against any use or expansion of Buy America provisions, which are designed to ensure U.S. companies and U.S. workers benefit from U.S. government spending.
The extraordinary gall of these corporate lobbyists to align themselves with foreign corporations at this time is nothing short of economic treason, declared Buffenbarger. Every other country in the world puts its own industries and workers first. For the sake of our nation and our economic recovery, our elected officials should do the same.
U.S. Capitol Gift Shop Bans China Trinkets
Until further notice, the words Made in China will no longer exist on merchandise sold in the main gift shop located on the House side of the U.S. Capitol.
The Politico newspaper reports Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA) has banned the Capitol Visitor Center from selling plastic Statues of Freedom and other souvenirs not made in the U.S.
I feel very strongly that souvenirs sold in House gift shops should be produced by U.S. companies," said Brady. At a time when our economy is struggling and U.S. companies are being forced to lay off workers, I believe that every effort should be made to support U.S. industry. The idea that the Capitol's main gift shop could be selling a model of our Statue of Freedom that is manufactured in China, does a disservice to the millions of American workers who are losing their jobs and their ability to support their families.
Brady is the chairman of the House Administration panel, which oversees all House operations. The congressman says his committee is working with the visitor center to return the $104,000 worth of souvenirs already purchased and to recover their full cost.
State Unemployment Funds Running on Empty
New York State is serving as a harbinger of things to come for other states facing rapidly growing unemployment numbers. State labor officials in Albany recently announced the states unemployment fund had run out of money and would be forced to borrow about $90 million each week to pay jobless claims.
New York has one of the fastest growing unemployment populations in the nation, with more than 500,000 people collecting unemployment checks during the first week of the New Year, nearly three times as many as a year before. The situation is expected to worsen, with more than 180,000 jobs expected to be lost this year in New York City, bringing the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent by the 4th quarter of 2009.
Making matters worse, the Empire State pays lower unemployment monthly benefits than many other Northeastern states. Unemployed New Yorkers can receive a maximum weekly benefit of $405. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut all pay higher benefits.
Machinists Fault Boeing for Triggering 08 Strike
The IAM today called on leaders of the Boeing Company to end their misinformation campaign regarding the 57-day strike by 27,000 Machinists union members.
The strike was triggered by a Boeing strategy to create a separate and lower class of employees in its manufacturing facilities; one with lower pay, fewer benefits and a cut-rate retirement plan, said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger.
Despite an overwhelming vote by union members to strike over Boeings divisive proposals, IAM negotiators delayed the shutdown in response to requests by federal mediators for additional bargaining. Still, Boeing refused to move off proposals that were certain to trigger a walkout.
Boeing had every opportunity to avoid this strike, said Buffenbarger. Even after the strike vote, they refused to modify their proposals in the misguided hope that they could pit one half of the workforce against the other half.
Additionally, Boeings claim that the global credit crisis is to blame for a fourth quarter net loss of $56 million fails to acknowledge strategic management errors, including a reliance on contractors and an outsourcing strategy that compromised the quality control that Boeing was once renowned for.
Boeings global outsourcing of design and manufacturing has been a failure, declared Buffenbarger. They lost control of the final product and held Machinists out for 57 days, over language that could have been offered and accepted from day one.
Help Support the Buy American Act
You can help save our economy and more than 11 million people currently out of work, by contacting your Senator and urging them to support Sen. Byron Dorgans (D-ND) Buy American provision within the economic stimulus bill.
The Buy American Act, which was enacted during the Great Depression, requires all stimulus-funded projects use only American-made equipment and goods. Inclusion of the provision in the economic stimulus package is essential to ensuring the $819 billion does exactly what it is supposed to do: stimulate the American economy and create jobs here at home not overseas! The provision ensures the money goes into the pockets of American workers not those of foreign corporate executives and contractors.
The U.S. Department of Labor shows we have lost more than 4 million manufacturing jobs over the past few years. The current unemployment rate is at 7.2 percent, and is climbing towards the double-digits. Passage of the stimulus package is the last hope for millions of U.S. workers struggling to stay afloat in the midst of this economic storm.
Millions of U.S. families are going without food and shelter, theyre behind on their mortgage, staring at an endless pile of bills and are unsure about tomorrow, says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. Allowing foreign companies to line their pockets with U.S. dollars and U.S. jobs at a time like this is unfathomable.
Some argue that using U.S. taxpayer money to support U.S. workers will force other countries to do the same, and further exacerbate the crisis. The truth is, theyre already doing it. Many countries have already implemented measures to protect their jobs and their workers. The time has come for the U.S. to do the same.
Click here to send a message to your Senator, or use the toll-free number 877-331-1223, and tell them to support U.S. workers by supporting Sen. Dorgans Buy American amendment.
EFCA is Key to U.S. Economic Recovery
A new report by the American Rights at Work organization shows passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is imperative to pulling the country out of economic crisis.
The report shows a direct link between the current downturn, and weak labor laws coupled with relentless corporate anti-union activity.
According to researchers, a lack of bargaining power in the hands of workers
is at the heart of the U.S. economic quagmire. They say restoring the right to form unions, and empowering workers with the protection they need in order to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions, is necessary for economic recovery.
With expanded collective bargaining power, more workers would move into the middle class, stimulating economic security, say researchers.Allowing workers to freely form unions is essential to putting money back into the pockets of those whose spending drives the economy, producing a highly skilled workforce to promote future economic growth, and increasing the political participation of workers to shape new economic strategies that benefit the middle class.
The Employee Free Choice Act gives workers the freedom to form a union without the risk of employer intimidation. Be sure to sign a Million Member Mobilization card to support The Employee Free Choice Act. The AFL-CIO will present the cards to President Barack Obama and the new Congress to demonstrate the widespread support for stronger laws to protect the right to choose a union and bargaining a first contract free from unfair employer tactics.
Cards were sent to every IAM local and district lodge in the United States, and should be returned to local or district lodge representatives who will then forward them to their respective territory offices. For information about the Employee Free Choice Act, including a fact sheet and other background information,
Take Action to Protect Air and Rail Workers
The Bush administration has spent the last eight years appointing anti-labor people to all areas of the federal government, including the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that has jurisdiction over labor-management relations in the airline and railroad industries.
President Barack Obama has an opportunity to replace the Mediation Boards anti-worker chair, Read Van De Water, with a labor-friendly appointee. Van De Water, whose term expired in July 2006, previously was the legislative counsel for international trade and investment with the Business Roundtable, and legislative counsel and director of government affairs for Northwest Airlines.
The Bush Mediation Board hindered Amtrak negotiations for eight years, unilaterally eliminated the collective bargaining rights of airport service workers and condoned anti-union campaigns aimed at airline employees, said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. Workers need a National Mediation Board that defends the rights of air and rail employees, and IAM members can help make that happen.
Congresswoman Lucille Royball-Allard (D-CA) is urging her fellow members to sign on to a letter urging President Barack Obama urging to take swift action to appoint new members to the National Mediation Board.
With pressing issues such as the pending merger of Delta and Northwest and new rounds of airline and railroad industry bargaining ahead, IAM members are asked to take a few brief moments to urge your U.S. Representative to sign on to Rep. Royball-Allards letter to restore fairness to the National Mediation Board. You can call, write a custom email or send a pre-written message to your representative directly through the IAM website.
Executive Orders Undo Anti-Labor Policies
In the opening days of his term and against a backdrop of economic turmoil, President Barack Obama made clear his support for labor unions and Americas working families.
The president signed a series of executive orders he says will level the playing field for workers simply trying to get ahead.
The announcement came on the same day the U.S. Commerce Department released data showing the nations gross domestic product shrank 3.8% during the final quarter of last year. It was reportedly the quickest economic contraction since 1982.
The recession is deepening, and the urgency of our economic crisis is growing, said President Obama. Every day it seems there is another round of layoffs, and another round of families' lives turned upside down. Labor is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution.
The three orders undo policies put in place by the former Bush Administration. They do the following:
Require federal contractors offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
No longer require federal contractors post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.
Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.
In keeping with his promise, President Obama also formally announced the creation of a new White House task force to focus on the problems of the middle class. The group, led by Vice President Joe Biden, will explore ways to expand opportunities for education and training, improve the work-family balance, restore labor standards, and protect retirement security.
With this task force, we have a single, highly visible group with one single goal: to raise the living standards of the people who are the backbone of this country, said Biden.
The task force has its own web site: www.astrongmiddleclass.gov. The site not only posts information, but also asks for ideas.
U.S. Labor Dept. Says It Pays To Belong
A new report from The U.S. Department of Labor shows union workers made an average of $10,140 more than non-union workers last year.
The report further supports previous surveys that show having a voice on the job gets workers higher wages, better health care, stronger job security and the ability to retire with dignity.
Researchers also say the number of workers belonging to a union in 2008 rose by 428,000 to 16.1 million a welcomed increase after a few years of declining membership. But with the current economic climate, the continuing decline of Americas once-powerful manufacturing sector, and the enormous difficulty workers face when trying to form or join a union, those numbers could change.
In a time of high unemployment and uncertain economic times, its critical to know our families are protected, says IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. Thats why its even more important for our new president and Congress to step up to the plate and pass the Employee Free Choice Act, and enable the voices of working families to be heard.
Obama Revokes Bush Ban on Project Labor Agreements
Working families scored again with the overturning of another anti-worker Bush order.
President Barack Obama revoked the Bush administrations ban on project labor agreements (PLAs) on federally funded construction projects. The ban was one of the first orders signed by Bush when he took office in 2001.
PLAs are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements meant to ensure fair wages, benefits, work rules, and methods for settling grievances on large federal or federally funded multi-contractor construction projects. Communities, oftentimes, benefit from negotiated outreach programs and the hiring of local residents.
This latest action is the fourth executive order signed by President Obama thats meant to reposition the American worker in this ailing economy. The previous three, signed just days after his first day in office, also reversed anti-labor federal contract policies put in place by the former administration.
Obama has also instructed the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to provide recommendations about whether broader use of PLAs, with respect to both federal construction contracts and those receiving federal assistance, might also be necessary.
Mapping the Decline of a Once Robust Economy
There may not be a more vivid representation of how much the country has been transformed under eight years of the Bush administration, than these two employment maps from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The first map, above, with progressively darker colors indicating higher unemployment rates in each county, reflects an overall national employment rate of 4.0 percent in December 2000. In addition to low unemployment, the country boasted a budget surplus of $167 billion and five consecutive years of real wage growth.
The second map, reflecting average county unemployment data as of November 2008, shows a cancer of high unemployment spreading from Maine to Michigan and deep into southern and western states. As stark as this graphic representation is, it does not include the last three months, when more than a half million Americans lost their jobs each month.
The second map also reflects the eight-year loss of millions of manufacturing jobs and sixty straight months of employment decline in the U.S. manufacturing sector, a fundamental lynchpin of economic activity in hundreds of small towns and cities.
For eight years, we have witnessed a systematic assault on manufacturing jobs across America, said IP Tom Buffenbarger. These maps give a clear picture of the extent of the damage and the amount of work that must now be done. The first step must be to approve the economic stimulus package before Congress and get the money flowing for retooling and retraining. There is no time to lose.
Lobbyist scandal may involve anti-worker Republican Senator
A scandal involving illegal dealings with lobbyists is hitting close to home for one of Washington, DCs most powerful Senate Republicans.
New information in an investigation involving a former senior advisor to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) raises questions about legislative favors provided to imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff pled guilty in 2006 to three criminal felony counts related to the defrauding of American Indian tribes and the corruption of public officials.
The Associated Press reports a series of emails allegedly show Ann Copland took tickets, meals and other gifts worth more than $25,000 from Abramoffs firm while working for Cochran. The favors, which included a luxury suite at the Orioles game and box suite at a Liza Minnelli concert, were allegedly in exchange for the passage or blockage of key legislation.
Sen. Cochran is one of a select group of Senators known for blocking legislation that would help working families. Such bills as Employee Free Choice; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay; The Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment or (TRADE), and The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Acts were all heavily opposed by corporate lobbyists and special interest groups.
IAM Organizers Plan for Post-Bush Era
The IAM Organizing Department is preparing to take full advantage of a political landscape that is shifting decidedly in its favor.
What a difference it makes having a little help at the top, said International President Tom Buffenbarger at a planning summit of the IAM Organizing Department. In addition to pro-labor executive orders and a pledge to sign the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), were looking forward to federal agencies that dont use their power to aggressively block the basic right of workers to join a union.
Unlike previous administrations that failed to protect the rights of workers seeking to organize, President Obama recently signed a remarkable series of pro-labor executive orders, including one that prohibits government contractors from using any federal funds to finance anti-union campaigns.
Buffenbarger urged the organizers to have campaigns ready to go. Winning the EFCA fight wont be easy, our adversaries are spending millions and are ready to spend millions more, but now is the time to develop plans for when we do win, said Buffenbarger.
While the political landscape has shifted, the economic landscape is changing too, with mass layoffs, bankruptcies and factory closings sending shock waves through the economy and adding a new dimension to the job of union organizers.
We have something workers desperately need and want in times of economic turmoil, said Organizing Director George Myers. And thats the promise in writing that their rights will be protected, their pensions defended and their voice will be every bit as loud as shareholders, managers or investors.
In addition to planning for upcoming campaigns, the organizers took time to salute Larry Washam, the much loved and recently retired former director of the IAM Organizing Department. Thousands of men and women all across the country are living better, richer lives because of the work this man has done over the years, said Headquarters Vice President Rich Michalski, who hosted the event attended by more than 100 friends, family and co-workers. Larry Washam has always been one of those people who makes you proud to belong to the Machinists union.
February 10, 2009
CN and Norfolk Southern announce MidAmerica Corridor initiative to speed freight between Midwest and Southeast
MONTREAL and NORFOLK, Va., CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) and Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) announced today an initiative to create a MidAmerica Corridor in which the railroads will share track between Chicago, St. Louis, Kentucky, and Mississippi to establish shorter and faster routes for merchandise and coal traffic moving between the Midwest and Southeast. This initiative, when finalized through definitive agreements, will have three components. First, Norfolk Southern (NS) will haul CN freight between Chicago and St. Louis, reducing the distance between these points for CN shipments by 60 miles and providing improved connections to other rail carriers through the St. Louis gateway. Second, NS will use CNs routes between St. Louis and Fulton, Ky., as part of a new, more efficient route from the Midwest to the Southeast, saving more than 50 miles on NS shipments. Third, CN will haul NS freight between Chicago and Fulton, shortening NSs Chicago-to-Birmingham route by almost 100 miles. As part of the MidAmerica Corridor, CN and NS plan to create a new coal gateway at Corinth, Miss., to better link NS-served southeastern utility plants with CN-served Illinois Basin coal producers. A key component of the new initiative is the West Tennessee Railroad between Fulton and Corinth, which will be upgraded to handle heavier shipments and additional rail traffic.
Editors: Downloadable map illustrating the MidAmerica corridor is available by clicking on the link http://www.nscorp.com/nscorphtml/pdf/CN_NS.pdf.
E. Hunter Harrison, president and chief executive officer of CN, said: This innovative track-sharing arrangement will expedite our customers shipments, improve asset utilization and generate new efficiencies for both CN and NS. Wick Moorman, chief executive officer of Norfolk Southern, said: The MidAmerica Corridor is an important partnership that will create better routes for shippers on both railroads. On the Norfolk Southern system, it will help level demand on our busy north-south routes, while improving service and velocity for many more customers. The initiative will be finalized with the completion of definitive agreements and approval for the exchange of trackage rights with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board in the next few months.
CN Canadian National Railway Company and its operating railway subsidiaries spans Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Gulf of Mexico, serving the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the key metropolitan areas of Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., Green Bay, Wis., Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, St. Louis, and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America.
Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the premier transportation companies in the U.S. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 21,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serving every major container port in the eastern United States and providing superior connections to western rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is North Americas largest rail carrier of metals and automotive products.
Norfolk Southern layoffs so far total 150 in Ohio
A drop in rail traffic has led Norfolk Southern Corp. to lay off 150 railroad workers in Ohio, including a reduction in shifts at the Buckeye Yard on the West Side. The Norfolk Va.-based company said the cuts began in early December. A total of 475 workers have been laid off companywide. The reduction in shifts at the Buckeye Yard was from three shifts to one. "Our traffic volumes are down significantly," said spokesman Rudy Husband. Chief Operating Officer Stephen C. Tobias told analysts last week that Columbus was one of three locations where the company is able to "substantially reduce" operations. The other two are Reading, Pa., and Sheffield, Ala. Tobias said the reduction in traffic is tied to low auto sales, which is cutting the number of vehicles and parts shipped by rail.
Johnson backs more federal oversight of railroads
BISMARCK, N.D. Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson told state legislators Friday, that increased federal oversight of rates and services is urgently needed to stop unfettered monopolistic practices by railroad carriers. Johnson testified Friday before the House Transportation Committee in support of House Concurrent Resolution 3034 which urges passage of federal legislation to protect railroad shippers, particularly those in areas without effective rail competition. The resolution points out the fact that consolidation in the rail industry has led to unreasonable and unrestrained market power over captive rail shippers, Johnson said. Despite recent efforts of Congress and repeated pleas to the Surface Transportation Board to take corrective actions, it appears that the rail industry continues to operate in a manner that begs for additional federal legislative intervention. Last year, as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Johnson testified before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. He told the federal agency that agricultural producers in North Dakota and other Midwestern states bear the brunt of monopolistic rail practices, such as captive rates and fuel surcharges, as well as rail line abandonment. Johnson also testified in 2006 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation on rail car shortages and unreasonable fuel surcharges.
Lincoln Regarded as Railroad "Founding Father"
Abraham Lincoln is being remembered as a "founding father." Lincoln lived and was president in the wrong century to be a founding father of the country, but he is being remembered on his 200th birthday as a founding father of the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1862, Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act, which created the Union Pacific Railroad. The Union Pacific built west from Omaha, Neb., while the Central Pacific built east from Sacramento, Calif. The two lines met in 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah, linking the Midwest with the West, though it wasn't until 1872 that a bridge was built over the Missouri River to link Nebraska to Iowa and points east. Author Stephen Ambrose published a best-selling book in 2000, Nothing Like it in the World, about the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Ambrose was born in Lovington, Ill. (Moultrie County) in 1936. He died in 2002. The Union Pacific is now the nation's largest railroad. In Illinois , it has 2,237 miles of track and 4,015 employees (SOURCE: www.uprr.com/aboutup/usguide/il.shtml). The company, based in Omaha, is sponsoring the display of some rarely-seen Lincoln artifacts, including his notes for his debates with Sen. Stephen Douglas, and his personal scrapbook of newspaper clippings. It is on display now at the Library of Congress in Washington . It will tour the country starting in May, with stops in Chicago and Springfield.
Photos from the recent Awards Dinner can be seen here: