• TV Satirist John Oliver Exposes Discriminatory Voting Laws

    Television host John Oliver totally dismantled the arguments for regressive voter ID laws.Television host John Oliver used his signature style during the opening monologue for HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” to dismantle the arguments for regressive voter ID laws.

    WATCH: John Oliver’s Opening Monologue

    The Voting Rights Act (VRA) was passed more than 50 years ago, but thanks to a right-wing push, the Supreme Court gutted it in 2013. Since that time individual states have implemented more restrictive voter ID laws that have effectively suppressed minority voting.

    Oliver cited examples of how some lawmakers attempt to minimize the racial bias behind rules for voter registration and make them seem like standard procedure.  He then gave some examples of absurd rules and schedule limitations for individuals to even obtain a photo ID. He also elaborated on how voter ID laws disproportionately affect minorities who are far more likely not to possess photo IDs.

    “It’s just one of those things that white people seem to more likely to have,” said Oliver. “Like a sunburn or an Oscar nomination.”

    Oliver played video clips of legislators in states like Nevada, Wisconsin, North Carolina and South Carolina attempting to justify their arguments for such laws as necessary to prevent fraud. He then succinctly cited the small number of actual cases of such crimes.

    “Voter ID is a problem the way deadly knife play from crabs is a problem,” said Oliver. He followed the comment with a video clip of a crab with a kitchen knife.

    The IAM has been a strong proponent for restoring the full protections of the VRA and supports Congressional Democrats in pushing for the Voting Rights Advancement Act to accomplish that goal.

    Click here to watch the entire monologue on voter ID laws.

  • IAM Members, Labor Coming Together to Promote Racial, Economic Justice

    IAM members attend a meeting on racial and economic justice in St. Louis. Front row, from left: Mike Ringo, District 9; Mike Lloyd, District 837; General Vice President Diane Babineaux; Carline Lang-Smith, District 837; and AFL-CIO Executive Board member Lori Pelletier. Back row: District 837 members Mike Edwards, Rodger Smith, Leon Smith, Stephen McDerman, Mark Conner, Pam Sanders and Rodney Bufford.

    IAM members and union workers around the country are joining with their communities to engage in a series of discussions aimed at tackling racial and economic disparities among U.S. workers. The meetings are put on by the AFL-CIO’s Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice, a panel of union leaders tasked with identifying solutions to rising inequality and economic insecurity.

    IAM District 837 members and leadership attended a recent Labor Commission meeting in St. Louis. Labor and civil rights advocates, together with the community at large, voiced the need for different movements with similar goals to partner together for increased job and work training opportunities.

    St. Louis ranks fifth-highest nationally in racial disparity for poverty among the nation’s 50 most populous regions.

    “It comes down to opportunity,” said IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux, who also attended sessions in Cleveland and Oakland. “As a nation, we simply aren’t providing the amount of affordable education or skills training that young people need to be successful in the 21st century, especially in low-income communities. We have to walk the walk, not just talk.”

    Part of the solution lies in promoting legislation that helps, instead of hurts, working people, says Babineaux. The GOP-led Missouri state legislature has in recent years relentlessly pursued a so-called right-to-work law, which would financially hamstring unions and drive down wages for working people.

    Babineaux pointed to the IAM’s many apprenticeship programs that prepare young people for jobs in the manufacturing, automotive and aerospace industries. The IAM’s Women’s and Human Rights Department holds trainings that address discrimination and fairness in the workplace. Organizations like the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) work with the IAM to provide scholarships to students interested in transportation careers.

    IAM Local 112 Recording Secretary Michael Madden, who also serves as President of the Minnesota State Council of Retirees, attended a recent Labor Commission meeting in Minneapolis. He says the best way for IAM members to promote racial equality is to immediately report any discrimination to their lodge.

    “We can’t deliver on wages, hours and conditions if there’s divisions in our ranks,” said Madden. “We are not going to allow any form of discrimination.”

    The Labor Commission will continue its tour through U.S. cities and towns to listen to the experiences of union members. The results of the commission will lead to reports and tools to transform how the labor movement thinks about racial justice issues.

    Click here to learn more about the Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice.

  • First Woman, African American Appointed to Ohio Machinists Board

    Ohio State Council of Machinists (OSCM) President T. Dean Wright, left, swears in new council members Mary Ellen Napier, center, and Phil Baker, right. Napier became the first woman to serve on the board, while Baker became the first African American.

    IAM Local 1471 Secretary-Treasurer Mary Ellen Napier has become the first woman to serve on the board of the Ohio State Council of Machinists (OSCM), announced OSCM President T. Dean Wright, Jr.

    “The experience and dedication of Sister Mary will be extremely valuable to the Executive Board and will provide vital benefits to our membership,” said Wright, who made the announcement after the Executive Board’s meeting on February 9 in Columbus, OH. “As we continue to improve our union to meet the present needs, our leadership must reflect the members we currently represent.”

    Napier began her career with the IAM in 1976 while working at Jeffrey Mining in Columbus. In 1989 she started working for Core Molding in Columbus. In 2011 she was appointed as District 54 Educator.
    In addition to her role as various roles, Napier serves on Human Rights and Women’s committees.

    “I’m ready to get to work for Ohio’s working families,” said Napier. “This new opportunity affords me the ability to stand for, and take part in developing civil rights, human rights, and labor rights in our communities across the state in a very important election year. Anti-working family, and other anti-union agendas, such as RTW (for less) are still a threat in our great state.”

    Wright also appointed the first African American, Local 1741 Vice President Phil Baker, to serve as the OSCM Sgt. at Arms. Baker, who is also employed at Core Molding in Columbus, is a 27-year member, longtime Shop Steward, and an active member on the organizing and legislative committees.

    “Brother Baker brings decades of commitment and service to working men and women in Ohio,” continued Wright. “I look forward to his new role working with the council in the years to come.”

  • Scalia's Death Deals Major Setback to Union-Busting Ploy

    Until the sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, unions were bracing for an all-but-certain 5-4 ruling against them in Freidrichs v. California Teachers Association. Scalia, a reliable conservative on the court, seemed likely to vote to get rid of public-sector “fair share” fees, which require nonmembers pay their union a percentage of full dues for negotiation and representation costs.

    The ruling would have decimated unions that represent state and local workers, effectively making all of those workplaces “right to work.” A 4-4 split is likely without Scalia, and the legality of public-sector fair share fees would be upheld.

    “Conservatives had a grand plan to decimate unions. If Justice Antonin Scalia hadn’t died in his sleep, they almost certainly would have pulled it off,” wrote Moshe Marvit for In These Times.

    But attacks on labor will continue, warns Charlotte Garden for The Atlantic.

    “Cases with the potential to chip away at organized labor will continue to reach the courts in significant numbers no matter what, and they will proliferate if the next justice is a Republican appointee,” wrote Garden. “More important, states may still adopt ‘right-to-work’ laws banning mandatory union fees, as the West Virginia legislature voted to do last week, or to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees altogether.”

    President Obama said he will nominate a replacement for Scalia, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the chamber will not confirm any nominee until after the November election.