• One Base, Two Contracts

    Increased wages – Check.
    Better health care options – Check.
    Stronger pension contributions – Check. 

    Both the Machinist contracts negotiated with M1 Support Services at Sheppard Air Force Base hit all the benchmarks of a good Union contract. The members who work there deserve the best the IAM has to offer. They have spent their career taking care of those who defend and protect the world.

    “Like so many factions of the IAMAW, the work done by these members is incredible,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin. “Not only do we have a group of men and women taking care the of the aircraft used to train fighter pilots from around the world – in every corner of every NATO country – but we have a group right next to them ensuring that the aircraft used to train our next generation of U.S. Air Force is classroom ready. These are the stories of the working class that need to be told.”

    One right after another, the Machinists first bargained the Sheppard Airforce Maintenance agreement, or what’s been coined the ‘SAM’ contract. A body of about 520 members who maintain the T38 and T6 aircrafts which are used for a joint program between the USA and NATO to train Jet Pilots around the globe. The SAT, or rather the Sheppard Airforce Trainer Contract, was next up. That’s a group of nearly 100 members who service all the aircraft used for U.S. Military members going through what’s called ‘A’ or technical schools. Looking at the numbers you quickly understand that neither job is an easy feat for those on the ground.

    “We have 220 sorties (aircraft missions) flying a day. That’s 220 takeoffs and landings, and many more touch-and-gos. And unlike other airports that operate 24/7, Sheppard only runs from daylight to dark. Our members take care of each and every one of those aircraft,” said Bud Dulworth, a Business Representative for IAM District Lodge 776.

    So everyone who took a seat at these bargaining tables were especially happy and honored to do so. Aerospace Coordinator Jody Bennett, a Machinist who literally cut his teeth on this U.S. Air Force Base, was among those smiling at the end of the day.

    “I am proud to put my name on this contract. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Bennett of the SAM Contract. “This committee took care of their co-workers first. They didn’t bring a personal agenda to the table. It was about taking care of the group.”

    And because of that solidarity, the gains were good.

    “We were able to get increases in wages, health care and pensions – all of those in spades,” said Aerospace Department Chief of Staff Terry Smith. “The pension was where the members really stand to benefit with increases from $2.70 to $3.50 per person, per hour for all three years of the contract. That can translate into thousands of dollars more at the end of your career.”

    Bennett explained further. “A majority of the members in this group are less than seven years from retirement and that was something considered by the committee. If you do the math for those folks, that’s an extra $1000.00 a month for retirement, per month. That’s a ‘WOW’ moment.”

    And similar gains were seen with the SAT Contract with 3.5 percent increases in wages, each year, for the three years. And an additional negotiated item that’s become almost an anecdote in this era of gigs instead of careers.

    “For the workers who have put in at least 15 years of service on the job, they will see an extra week of vacation from now on, “ said Smith. “That’s something that really doesn’t happen these days.”

    So how did this all come to fruition? How were these workers able to negotiate such great contracts? It’s because these men and women stood strong and worked hard…and the company knows their worth.

    “We can’t let the story of these contract negotiations be misconstrued,” stated Blondin. “The IAM has a solid relationship with M1 Support Services, who understands the value of IAM workers. But these working Americans, earned each and every benefit they negotiated. They worked hard and stood in solidarity. This is the power of Collective Bargaining with the Machinists Union – to stand together and negotiate great contracts, backed by an organization whose reputation precedes them at the table. Stronger wages, health care benefits and pensions is the bar for us. Nothing else is acceptable at tables in the South.”

    Dulworth is thrilled to see these members reap the benefits for their decades of hard work at Sheppard. “This is the best contract I’ve ever seen with no takeaways,” said Dulworth. “And these men and women deserve nothing less.”

    #iamsouthernvoice
    #ThisIsWhyIAMUnion
    #LetsUnion

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  • IAM Statement on DOL-Supervised Rerun of Election

    Responding to the U.S. Department of Labor, the IAM has agreed to a DOL-supervised rerun of the 2017 Grand Lodge elections for International Union officer positions, including International President, General Secretary-Treasurer and seven U.S. General Vice Presidents. The election excludes the Canadian General Vice President position.

    The DOL struck down the IAM members’ convention action requiring that candidates for Grand Lodge office show a minimal 10 percent level of support in the union’s local lodges before becoming candidates for election.  The members adopted this provision to assure that elections took place only when there was at least some possibility that more than one candidate for each position would prevail.  The DOL also found that even though incumbent candidates received 749 or more local lodge endorsements, while challengers received no more than 7 endorsements, a new election is required. 

    “The IAM strongly disagrees with the DOL’s decision to override the will of its membership, and reserves the right to take legal action in the future to vindicate its membership’s actions,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “However, instead of undertaking the expense and uncertainty of litigating these issues, and further delaying the final resolution of the election, we have agreed to re-run the election, and to leave the matter in the hands, once again, of our members. Agreeing to a prompt re-run election assures that this matter will be resolved as quickly as possible so that the union can get on with the critical business of implementing the program adopted by our members at last year’s Convention.  We remain committed to a free, fair and democratic election process. We also commit to our membership that we will take all necessary and appropriate steps to put an end to the DOL’s unwarranted interference in an election process established by the membership at last year’s convention.” 

    The nominations in each Local Lodge will take place in meetings in January 2018, with further meetings in February for lodges that nominate more candidates than the positions call for. If 25 or more locals endorse more than one candidate for International President or General Secretary-Treasurer, or more than seven candidates for United States General Vice Presidents, an election for the contested positions will take place in April.    

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  • Stop Waging War on the Middle Class Gov. Charlie Baker

    U.S. Sen. Ed Markey rallied with MBTA mechanics and other allies to stand against the privatization efforts by Gov. Charlie Baker and his transit administration.

    The rally in Lynn comes on the heels of the for-profit companies sneaking into MBTA garages under the cloak of night between midnight and 3 a.m. earlier this week to survey the properties they will be bidding for control of.

    “These for-profit corporations appearing under cloak of night to begin seizing control of the MBTA demonstrates the lack of transparency surrounding this scheme that is being forced upon taxpayers, riders, and worker,” said Mike Vartabedian, Business Representative of IAM Local 264. “The public deserves management at the MBTA that is open and transparent. MBTA mechanics rank as the best in the nation, but thus far the negotiations have remained one-sided with the workers offering $29 million in savings and hearing only silence from management.”

    READ:

    MBTA union blasts Baker’s privatization plan 

    Workers rally outside Lynn MBTA garage

    More than 450 mechanics, fuelers, and other skilled professionals united in IAM Local 264 proudly contribute to the operation of the MBTA and their communities every day.

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  • Four Decades at the Table

    It was the last year of the Vietnam War. Gas was 38 cents a gallon. The Watergate scandal was in full swing and the song Bad, Bad Leroy Brown was dominating the radio. It was 1973. And while all of this was happening throughout the country, the Machinists were putting in place a first contract at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK. Fast forward about 44 years and that contract is still delivering to this day.

    “Whether it’s in 1973 or in 2017, our message remains the same. A voice on the job, good wages, strong pensions, defined work rules…these are still the dominating forces of a Machinist contract. And every person in the IAM should be proud that we have been able to deliver that product for more than four decades at Vance AFB. That is exactly why we use the phrase in the South, ‘This is Why I Am Union.’ We are honored to be able to take care of our members with a great Union contract,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin.

    The contract covers about 260 IAM Members who work for ASRC Communications, Ltd. and InDyne, Inc., doing the work that keeps the base up and running. Ultimately helping to facilitate our military Brothers and Sisters in the field.

    “This contract covers workers providing a service to the U.S. Military. They are ‘Base Operations’ which run the gamut from Firefighters to Custodial Workers. They do it all at Vance AFB,” said Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative Valerie Rodriguez. “We came to the table to meet the needs and desires of this membership for the next three years, exactly what we’ve done for the last four decades. It’s important to build on this contract to help provide our members a piece of the American Dream.”

    The men and women gathered at the bargaining table with the companies weren’t asking for that much, just a fair contract. Specifically, their requests were leaning more pensions than wages. And since many at the table on both sides have been here before, everyone seemed to understand the importance of a secure retirement for these folks.

    President and Directing Business Representative of District Lodge 171 Rick Boardman is one who has taken a seat at this table many times and has a good relationship with all the players. “You know, the Contractor said to me ‘we are in this with you. We believe in the pension and our workers having that pension,’ said Boardman, noting why that is the case. “It’s because after the research they saw, they knew the IAM Pension was the way to go. They saw the value of the pension, that it is a top performer. And they know that they can depend on what we put across the table because we have been here so many times before.”

    The value of a pension becomes even more significant after realizing that you are changing the future for the men and women who hold Machinists’ cards. Over the three year contract, the increases amount to about 30 cents per year. But the big pictures tell the full story of what that means.

    “It’s a huge amount of money. To be exact, at the end of the three years, it’s an extra $484.74 per month for each member. That’s something you can’t explain in dollars and cents. That’s a game changer for many retirees,” said Ben Moody, Organizer and Business Representative for District Lodge 171.

    It’s become a sort of mantra for Blondin and his team in the South. The IAM Pension is always a win for workers.

    “Think about what that means for a member, who like these Machinists, have spent nearly one-third of their life, if not more, on the job,” explained Blondin. “That is money that could be the difference between a retirement lifestyle of just getting by versus enjoying those Golden Years. In 1973 or 2017, that’s just not something you can put a price on.”

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