• IAM Praises Long-Awaited Chemical Law Overhaul

    President Obama just signed the first update to the nation’s toxic chemical review law in 40 years.

    A long-awaited update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates the use of chemicals for workers and consumers, passed both houses of Congress and reached the President’s desk after much back and forth between lawmakers, and the IAM’s encouragement.

    “This is a good law, it is an important law,” said Obama. “For the first time in our history, we’ll actually be able to regulate chemicals effectively.”

    TSCA was outdated and in a desperate need of updating. Restrictions were keeping regulators from limiting the use of toxic compounds.

    In March, IAM International President Bob Martinez sent a letter to every member of the House of Representatives asking for their support of the bill.

    “Our members in the chemical industry deserve the ability to work without the fear of exposure to known carcinogens and other dangerous or untested chemicals while on the job—just as consumers have the right to know that the products they buy will not hurt their families,” said Martinez.

    The legislation improves on some fundamental flaws that have hindered the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect workers and consumers from harmful chemical risks. The EPA will review new chemicals entering the marketplace and establish a list of 10 priority chemicals to review within the next six months.

  • On-the-Job Accident Takes Life of Ohio IAM Member

    Brother Timothy UnderwoodIAM Local 1471 members at Core Molding Technologies in Columbus, OH began their week with tragic news. A coworker and union brother, Timothy Underwood, had succumbed to injuries sustained in an early morning plant accident.

    IAM members at Core produce composites used to produce vehicle parts.

    “On behalf of the District 54 family I send or deepest sympathies, and condolences to the member’s family, as well as all of his coworkers at Core Molding,” said T. Dean Wright, Jr., president and directing business representative of District 54. “Our very foundation is based upon the safety of our members, and workers everywhere, and the belief that everyone should return home, safely to their families at the end of every working day.”

    District 54 and Local 1471 representatives, including the safety committee, remain ready to assist and cooperate with OSHA and the company in the ongoing investigation. The company suspended operations for 24 hours and said grief counselors would be available to assist employees if needed.

    Click here for Underwood’s obituary in the Columbus Dispatch.

  • New Contractor at Red River Army Depot is Gutting Health Care

    IAM members at Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX are fighting an attempt from the depot’s new primary contractor, VSE Corp., to drastically increase employee health care costs while reducing their benefits.

    When a new contractor takes over at a government site, union employees are entitled to the same rates of pay and benefits they negotiated under the previous contractor. It’s the law, ever since Congress passed the Service Contract Act in 1965.

    VSE Corp., which in May became the primary contractor for around 1,000 IAM members at Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX, might need a refresher.

    “They’re breaking the law,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin, “but we’re not going to let them get away with it.”

    While negotiating a transition from the previous contractor with the IAM, VSE refused to divulge its health care costs. Then, after IAM members rejected VSE’s proposal, the company unilaterally enacted health coverage with higher employee costs and reduced benefits.

    The shuffling even caused many IAM members at the depot to temporarily lose health insurance all together.

    In a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor, the IAM asserts VSE is guilty of unfair bargaining and slashing healthcare benefits members received under the depot’s former primary contractor, AECOM.

    “The workers at Red River Army Depot are hard-working Americans,” IAM Special Representative Bob Wood told the Texarkana Gazette. “All they want is what the law says they are due. Sadly, VSE seems determined to force upon them lesser benefits than those to which they are entitled. We should expect better from a government contractor receiving taxpayer money.”

    Employees at the depot — welders, mechanics, machinists, painters, heavy equipment operators and more — maintain and repair armored vehicles for the U.S. military.

    The NLRB says it is fast-tracking the IAM’s complaint.

  • IAM Part of Healing Process in Orlando

    The IAM mobilized last week in Orlando to aid IAM members, their families and the community following the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. Unfortunately, two IAM members have been directly affected.

    IAM member and Southwest Airlines Customer Service Representative (CSR) Angelique Caro was shot and wounded. IAM member and United Airlines CSR Angel Mendez lost his son, Jean Carlos Mendez.

    IAM District 141 and 142 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Chairpersons Kathy Ferguson and Paul Schultz, District 141 East Coast Region EAP Representative Victor Acosta, Critical Incident Response Team Coordinator (CIRT) Stephanie Starks and Grand Lodge Representative Joe Stassi were dispatched to Orlando shortly after the shooting to meet with IAM members and their families in an effort to assess and stabilize the situation and get needed resources to affected IAM members and their families.

    “I thank Stephanie, Kathy, Paul, Victor and Joe, who immediately went to Orlando to do what they could to ease the pain of that city,” said Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “I want every single IAM member, particularly Angelique and Angel, to know that their union is here for them and will stand by them during this most difficult time. That’s what brothers and sisters do.”

    “I cannot put into words the feeling I had when this one young man hugged me repeatedly and said thank you for caring,” said IAM CIRT Coordinator and Flight Attendant Stephanie Starks. “It makes it all so very worthwhile to make a positive difference and bring comfort to someone who is hurting.”

    IAM representatives met with members and their families during the week, visited Angelique in the hospital and met with Angel at his home.

    IAM EAP and CIRT representatives undergo rigorous training at the William W. Winpisinger Center to aid IAM members, their families and the community at large to deal with issues from substance abuse and family stressors to catastrophic events like Orlando’s mass shooting.

    EAP and CIRT Representatives will continue to be part of IAM members and their families’ healing process and will provide necessary resources to them as needed.

    “The initial response is primarily to stabilize the situation,” said IAM District 141 Director Bryan Hutchinson. “The real response comes two to four weeks after the incident when other support has been withdrawn and the media attention has died down.”

    “I can only ask that we add our prayers, our voices and our efforts to those around the world who believe that hate must be answered not with more hate, but with compassion, tolerance and love for one another,” IAM International President Bob Martinez said after the attack.

    Please click here to contact District 141 EAP.

    Please click here to contact District 142 EAP.