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  • Chicago IAM Local 701 Training Center Presents Apprenticeship Blueprint at FMCS Conference

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    IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber, right to left, IAM Local 701 Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli, IAM Safety and Health and Apprenticeship Program Director Jim Reid, IAM Local 701 Education and Training Center Director/Lead Instructor Louie Longhi, and apprentice Symon Krolak, host an FMCS panel on how FMCS funding was used to help create Local 701’s state-of-the-art Education and Training Center.

    IAM Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 has found the formula to combating our nation’s skills gap problem, rebuilding America’s middle class, and realizing the “American Dream,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber during the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s (FMCS) recent Future at Work Conference in Chicago.

    And it is the IAM Local 701’s Education and Training Center.

    The fruit of a unique partnership between FMCS, the IAM and employers, the Local 701 Training Center was the main focus of a panel on how FMCS funding was used to help create the state-of-the-art automotive apprenticeship training program, located in Carol Stream, IL. FMCS is an independent agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation.

    Gruber was joined on the panel by IAM Local 701 Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli, IAM Safety and Health and Apprenticeship Program Director Jim Reid, IAM Local 701 Education and Training Center Director/Lead Instructor Louie Longhi, and apprentice Symon Krolak.

    Watch the full panel here.

    “The truth is: the middle class is shrinking,” said Gruber. “I think it’s safe to say that everyone in this room knows that. The idea of the ‘American Dream’ is increasingly becoming just that — a dream.”

    “Part of the problem is a lack of good-paying jobs,” continued Gruber. “Yes, we live in an era where employers would much rather pay a worker $2 an hour to make their product in Mexico or China, than to support workers here in their home country.

    “But the other part of the problem is — skills. Or, a lack thereof. For years, we’ve been telling our children that to make it in life you have to finish high school and get a four-year degree. In hindsight, what we have learned is, that was a huge mistake to our future workforce and to our country. The truth is jobs that require a four-year degree today make up less than half of the job market.”

    Seeing the problem early on in the automotive field, Cicinelli said he started pushing for an IAM-owned automotive training center. One that could train apprentices of today — and tomorrow.

    “The greatest challenge in creating the school was the funding mechanism,” said Cicinelli, who after years of negotiations was able to secure a “nickel fund” in which participating employers donated 5 cents for every hour worked. “That’s when Gruber put us in contact with Reid, who assisted us in securing an $80k grant from FMCS. That catapulted us into opening up the program one year sooner.”

    The school has experienced great success — participating employers have tripled, nearly 400 courses have been taught, and the program is still in its growing stages with plans for expansion.

    “When we wrote the grant in 2011, there were 60 employers donating to the fund out of over 500,” said Reid, who gave tips on how to write a successful FMCS grant application. “When we just did a recent grant application, there were 310. So within five years, it’s grown by 500 percent of the number of employers participating.”

    Community colleges and for-profit trade schools are just not enough, said Longhi.

    And plus, there are some key differences when comparing those programs to Local 701.

    “A lot of the other schools’ programs are for about 13 months — their students are usually rushed,” said Longhi. “I actually have graduates coming from those schools asking and applying to come our school. And I ask them why? They found out they didn’t learn enough.”

    “At the IAM Local 701 Education and Training Center,” continued Longhi, “we have smaller class sizes and our program lasts for about three years for automotive and four years for auto and diesel. Also, our students do not pay tuition and we put our apprentices to work after their first class.”

    “It’s a great opportunity,” said Krolak, who is currently a third-year apprentice at Chicago Northside Toyota. “There’s two other automotive schools here in Chicago. They’re $45k. I have a mortgage. There’s no way I could afford to put my family in $45k worth of debt. At Local 701, I’ve gotten a lifetime’s worth of experience for basically promising that I will be an IAM member. And I will — for the rest of my life.”

    International studies suggest that for every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity, reduced waste and greater front-line innovation.

    FMCS grants are available to labor-management partnerships aimed at defining and confronting workplace problems and developing long-term solutions. Stay tuned for 2017 application information here.

    Watch the full panel here.

    See photos of the training center here.


  • Iowa Machinists at American Ordnance Strike to Keep Health Care, Pensions & Fair Wages

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    IAM Local 1010 members employed at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middletown, IA, walked off the job Tuesday as they continue negotiations with American Ordnance for a fair contract.

    In a move to save their health care, wages and pensions, more than 230 IAM Local 1010 members employed at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant walked off the job Tuesday as they continue negotiations with American Ordnance for a fair contract.

    The production workers, who have been in contract negotiations with American Ordnance in Middletown, IA for five weeks, went on strike after standing in solidarity and overwhelmingly voting down the company’s so-called “last, best and final offer.”

    “At issue is the company’s proposal to increase health care premiums, provide minimal wage increases and freeze workers’ pensions,” said IAM District 6 Assistant Directing Business Representative Randy Krewson. “Our take on the company’s proposal was loud and clear. We struck them at midnight.”

    American Ordnance returned to the table with IAM Local 1010 negotiators Tuesday morning.

    Other IAM sticking points include several language issues regarding overtime, line assignments and hazard pay.

    “Our member’s are responsible for producing live munitions for the U.S. military,” said IAM District 6 Directing Business Representative John Herrig. “They handle hazardous and dangerous materials everyday — for that they should be compensated with affordable health care, a fair wage and an opportunity to retire someday with dignity. We’re standing together to ensure a secure future for our members and their families.”

    “IAM members at American Ordnance are among some of the most highly-skilled, talented workers in the country,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber. “They don’t take what they do lightly — and neither should the company. The IAM will not stand for another round of oneâ€Â�sided negotiations. I urge American Ordnance to bargain in good faith and come to the table with an agreement that’s equitable and fair.”

    Members of two other unions — 19 Operating Engineers Local 150 and 18 Teamsters Local 238 — also voted to go on strike Tuesday, bringing the total number of striking union members to 274.


  • IAM Midwest Territory 'Rides for Guides' Raises $40k for Guide Dogs

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    The IAM Midwest Territory’s 8th Annual “Rides for Guides” Classic Car Show brought an impressive lineup of wheels and engines to IAM District 9 in Bridgeton, MO.

    The IAM Midwest Territory’s 8th Annual “Rides for Guides” Motorcycle Poker Run and Classic Car Show together raised over $40k to benefit Guide Dogs of America.

    The events, both held this year in the St. Louis area, drew over a hundred participants from greater St. Louis and the entire midwest.

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    Drivers taking part in the IAM Midwest Territory’s 8th Annual “Rides for Guides” Motorcycle Poker Run took off during the early morning hours from IAM District 837 in Hazelwood, MO, through a scenic route to Springfield, IL and back.

    “Thank you to all the Midwest Territory Districts, Locals, residents, businesses and sponsors for your continued support of the ‘Rides for Guides’ Motorcycle Run and Car Show,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber. “The IAM Midwest Territory is committed to helping Guide Dogs of America give the gift of sight to as many visually-impaired men and women as possible. It’s because of your generosity that these charity events continue to be a success and we are able to accomplish that goal each year.”

    Guide Dogs of America provides guide dogs free of charge to blind and visually-impaired men and women across the U.S. and Canada. The school was founded in 1948 after a blind IAM member was rejected for a guide dog due to his age of 57.

    Drivers taking part in the annual Motorcycle Poker Run took off during the early morning hours from IAM District 837 in Hazelwood, MO, through a scenic route to Springfield, IL and back. Awards were given to individuals who brought in the most pledges, drove the farthest distance and had the oldest bike. Click here for a complete list of winners and photos from the bike run.

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    IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber takes a 95-foot aerial ride on the Pattonville Fire Department’s engine ladder platform at the IAM Midwest Territory’s 8th Annual “Rides for Guides” Classic Car Show at IAM District 9 in Bridgeton, MO.

    The annual Classic Car Show brought an impressive lineup of wheels and engines to IAM District 9 in Bridgeton, MO. The 17 classes included stock cars from as far back as 1959, trucks, muscle cars, corvettes and street rods. Trophies were given to the top three cars in each class, Best of Show and People’s Choice. Click here for a complete list of winners and photos from the car show.

    Other activities included raffle ticket and basket giveaways, a zumba class, free train rides for kids sponsored by leader in public rail safety Operation Lifesaver, and a visit from the Pattonville Fire Department.

    And a special thank you to GDA instructor Jamie Viezbicke and her guide dog in training Laddy who spent the entire weekend greeting participants to both the bike run and car show. See Jamie perform a training exercise with Laddy (Warning: Cuteness Alert).

    For more information on these and other IAM Midwest Territory events to benefit Guide Dogs of America, visit the Spirit of the Midwest website at www.SpiritoftheMidwest.org.


  • Missouri IAM Local 837A Member Wins Midwest Territory Logo Contest

    DanielForbes GruberIAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber presents IAM Local 837A, Hazelwood, MO, member Daniel Forbes a plaque and $200 check for winning the Midwest Territory Logo and Slogan Contest.

    The IAM Midwest Territory congratulates IAM Local 837A, Hazelwood, MO, member Daniel Forbes on winning the IAM Midwest Territory Logo and Slogan contest.

    IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber launched the contest in March 2016 in search of a logo and slogan that best incorporated the spirit of the territory’s 10 states, as well as the theme of moving forward as the territory works to organize and grow its membership.

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    As the new trademark of the IAM Midwest Territory, Forbes’ design will be displayed on the territory’s organizing materials, webpage, social media, and other branding opportunities moving forward.

    “It was important to get the membership involved,” said Gruber. “After all, this new design is a representation of our entire territory. Their involvement throughout this process of branding our territory and future organizing efforts was vital.”

    A panel of eight judges reviewed each submission and chose Forbes’ logo and slogan by an overwhelming majority.

    Forbes, a nearly six-year IAM member and Local 837A Steward, works as an F-15 assembly mechanic at Boeing. The husband and father of two says he entered the contest because of his background in graphic design.

    “I’ve done some t-shirt design and saw it as a great way to help out my union,” said Forbes. “It was just a fun project.”

    Gruber met with Forbes to congratulate and thank him personally during a recent trip to IAM District 837 in Hazelwood, MO.

    Click here to see photos from the meeting.

    “On behalf of the IAM Midwest Territory, it is my pleasure to congratulate you on winning the IAM Midwest Territory Logo and Slogan Contest,” said Gruber while presenting Forbes with a plaque and $200 check. “Daniel, you should be extremely proud of yourself. Many judges remarked that they liked your choice of color and your use of the old logo in the newer version. They believe you are a ‘star in the making’ — and for that reason, I am proud to have your work represent this territory. Thank you, brother, for your hard work and dedication to this union.”

    As home to the winning submission, Gruber also presented IAM District 837 Directing Business Representative Steve McDerman with a plaque, thanking him for his leadership.

    As the new trademark of the IAM Midwest Territory, Forbes’ design will be displayed on the territory’s organizing materials, webpage, social media, printed materials, paraphernalia, and other branding opportunities moving forward. It will also be used to create a new territory pin.