IAM District 725 Area Manager/Business Representative J.P. Fletcher recently represented the Machinists Union during U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s speech on trade at the AFL-CIO.
Fletcher asked Tai an important question about how the Biden administration will combat outsourcing and retain Aerospace jobs in America. Tai’s speech, which focused on the importance of worker-centered trade, was hosted by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka during a virtual town hall.
“While aerospace workers are currently being laid off all over the United States, the aerospace industry in Mexico is growing exponentially,” said IAM District 725 Area Director/Business Representative J.P. Fletcher. “Many of these jobs were once our jobs and union jobs here in San Diego.”
Chula Vista, CA has been home to aerospace manufacturing since the 1940’s and at one time employed over 10,000 workers. When United Technologies (UTC) took over the operations, the company outsourced much of the work to its production site in Mexico. There are approximately 60,000 aerospace jobs now in Mexico, much of which used to be done by IAM members.
“Brother Fletcher did a great job representing the IAM during this call by posing a vital question to Ambassador Tai about the future of aerospace jobs in our great country,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It is imperative the Machinists Union continues to pressure this administration to keep their word of protecting the livelihoods of not only our Aerospace members, but every Machinist. The IAM will always be at forefront in leading the labor movement’s fight to keep American jobs here and against any outsourcing.”
“The outsourcing of good paying aerospace jobs to Mexico is tantamount to economic treason on the American worker,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “I will do everything in my power to continue to hold theses elected officials accountable to our members and our country.”
The IAM Midwest Territory raised $21,877 at two recent events benefiting the IAM’s favorite charity, Guide Dogs of America/Tender Loving Canines, which provides service dogs free of charge to deserving individuals across the U.S. and Canada.
Both events were held consecutively on the weekend of May 22 and 23.
The IAM Midwest Territory’s 2nd annual Sporting Clays Shoot, held at Nilo Farms in Brighton, IL, drew a record 70 participants.
“After many events were cancelled in 2020, it was great to see so much participation from our membership in the 2021 ‘Rides for Guides’ car show and the sporting clay event,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “IAM members know better than anyone how to join together for a good cause, and we have once again shown that in the Midwest Territory. I’d again like to thank every participant and sponsor who helped us raise more than $21,800 for Guide Dogs of America/Tender Loving Canines.”
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 SpiritoftheMidwest.org
At the beginning of last year, GDA completed a merger with Tender Loving Canines, and now provides service dogs for people who are blind/visually impaired, veterans, individuals with autism, and facilities to become trusted companions that bring confidence, independence, and mobility. Their services are provided free of charge to residents in the U.S. and Canada.
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, U.S. Reps. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) joined IAM Local S6 representatives at Bath Iron Works recently in calling to restore an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the U.S. Navy’s budget.
The current Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Department budget request includes funding for only one DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyer. Last year, Congress approved funding for two DDG-51s.
“This budget is retiring some old large surface combatants in big numbers,” said Rep. Courtney. “If we’re going to divest older capability ships to free up money to invest in newer capability ships, you have to make sure you do the second part, and this budget doesn’t do that.”
Courtney’s subcommittee is responsible for setting the shipbuilding manufacturing policy included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which directs how federal funds should be used by the Defense Department each year. Golden serves as vice-chairman of the subcommittee next to Courtney. Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which sets funding policy for the federal government, including for military shipbuilding.
“These ships are proudly built by our members,” said Local S6 President Chris Weirs. “Our members are fighting alongside the IAM, our elected officials and BIW to ensure that Congress restores funding for a second DDG-51 destroyer in fiscal Year 2022.”
“These ships are vital,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro, Sr. “First and foremost is our national security, and making sure the U.S. Navy has the tools they need to defend our interests. Secondly, and just as important we are also building the future shipbuilders, and manufacturing base at the same time. The Maine Delegation understands the importance of these ships, and our members are also well informed – they know what is at stake.”
Pingree and Golden, along with U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), opposed the ship cut in a May 27 joint statement. The Maine Delegation wrote the cut would “destabilize our nation’s shipyard industrial base, threaten the skilled workforce that builds these ships, and undermine the long-term health of this important sector of national defense.
Attention all IAM members who enjoy taking photos. We are still looking for your photos for the 2021 IAM Photography contest. Get out your cameras or smartphones and start snapping some pictures of your Union sisters and brothers.
Submit your photos of IAM members in their workplace, union function or performing community service for a chance to win a cash prize have your photo featured in the 2022 IAM Calendar. Entry deadline is August 1, 2021.
This much-needed program, fought for and won by the IAM’s advocacy, provides $3 billion in payroll support funding to aviation manufacturing employers, allowing them to keep aerospace manufacturing workers on their payrolls, avoid additional furloughs, and re-hire workers previously furloughed during the pandemic.
“Machinists Union members and the jobs they hold throughout the aerospace industry have always been crucial to the economy and protection of this nation, especially now as the country continues to heal from the pandemic,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “To overcome the effects of COVID-19, we must take care of the highly-skilled aerospace industry workers who are the key to reinvigorating the global economy and making sure the financial foundation of this country remains strong and intact. I hope any eligible company uses this opportunity to secure its workforce for the future and protect one of our last great manufacturing industries.”
The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection program results from a strong push by the IAM in support of bipartisan legislation, which establishes a temporary relief plan for aerospace supply chains affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The program provides up to 50 percent of both pay and benefits for the thousands of workers furloughed due to the pandemic. In addition, companies receiving these funds must commit not to conduct any layoffs or furloughs during the six-months in which the funds are in use.
Machinists Union members were among many workers in the aerospace industry who experienced layoffs and furloughs because of COVID-19. While air travel dropped significantly during 2020, so did the need for parts, repairs, modifications, and other services, hurting aerospace supply chain companies.
Nearly 100,000 aerospace jobs have been lost since the pandemic, and many more may be at risk. But, thanks to the efforts of the IAM and our allies in Congress, this program will go a long way to stop the bleeding and bring our members back to work.
“I have been a true alcoholic my entire life. I was even born premature to an addicted mother who died at the age of 42 due to liver and kidney failure caused by excessive use of alcohol and smoking. I went through my life with many ups and downs. From having nothing, to having everything, to having nothing again. Last year I really saw what alcohol can do to me. It can and will kill me.
“Finally on July 30, I asked for real help because my life was again out of control. I was broke, broken and defeated as a human being.”
This is from a letter written by former IAM member Kenneth Avery, a millwright who worked at Crown Beverage Packaging in Olympia, WA. It was written one year into his sobriety. Today, Avery is no longer with the IAM but continues to be grateful that when he was part of the Machinist family, the union was there to help.
Kenneth Avery turned to the IAM Addiction Services Program when he felt his life was out of control.
“It will be 20 months sober for me on April 2,” exclaimed Avery happily from his new home in Wyoming, living a slower paced life he believes is helping his sobriety.
“It’s a pace that I think I needed. I was really overly stimulated in Washington. But it’s much slower here – they still try to get you to write a check,” Avery said with a chuckle.
But it wasn’t an easy path for Avery to get to this point in his life.
Just shy of two years ago, Avery walked into work under the influence and knew he needed help. He had tried rehab on his own and failed. On that day, he recognized it was time to reach out.
He remembered seeing a Facebook post about the IAM’s Addiction Services program but he couldn’t remember the details as he had barely glanced at the information.
“Alcohol was my drug of choice and it had taken over my thoughts, dreams, aspirations and my health,” remembered Avery grimly. “I went into work that morning and asked somebody if they would help me out because I wasn’t very clear minded. I was pretty much intoxicated. So we made the phone call and I spoke with Vinny and he asked me if I was willing to do anything to get sober, and I said I was.”
The “Vinny” he spoke with was Vincent Ceraso, the man in charge of the IAM’s Addiction Services program and a machinist member since 1993. Since its inception, the program has been a benefit to members and their families, free of charge.
“I got off the phone with him about 8 o’clock in the morning and he had a complete plan ready to go for me by 1 o’clock that I could take to my employer and show them what I was doing,” said Avery.
With more than 34 years of sobriety under his own belt, Ceraso understands these moments of clarity when someone reaches out are crucial to getting them help.
“We don’t provide any direct services. We provide options,” explained Ceraso. “Immediately I listen and do an evaluation. Then it’s time to find them a treatment place. It doesn’t matter where you live, I am going to match you with the best facility for you, because everyone’s recovery is unique. It probably won’t be the one down the block from where you live.”
Ceraso uses only dual diagnosis drug and alcohol treatment centers, which he credits for the completion rate and growth of the Machinist program. In just 24 months, the IAM has gotten help for nearly 150 union family members.
“Anyone can treat you for drugs and alcohol but can they treat you for the underlying issue? That’s what gives the Machinist Union such a high rate of success,” said Ceraso.
Nationwide, estimates range that about 5 percent of the population need drug or alcohol treatment. For the IAM, that’s about 30,000 members at any one time. Ceraso broke down the math.
“The numbers are staggering because if you look at the 600,000 members and then you add three family members each, you are looking at 2.4 million people. So now you take 5 percent of that and the number is huge,” said Ceraso.
But in the case of relapse statistics, the IAM is setting the curve for other programs.
“The average relapse rate in this country is about 78 percent or so in the first year which is ridiculous. If you go out three years, 92 or 93 percent of people are going to relapse,” said Ceraso. “But if you go through the Machinists, it’s about 2 or 3 percent. Not because of me, but because we are being very specific about where we send people.”
Ceraso doesn’t take credit for any of this success except to say that placement makes a difference. But some see it another way.
“It was probably, singularly, the best decision I ever let anybody make for me,” said Avery. “I owe a lot to Vinny for taking the time and finding the right facility for me, negotiating plans and working with the insurance. All I had to do was show up and get well.”
Avery isn’t the only one in the Machinist family who is grateful for this program.
By the time Dalton Gendron, the son of an IAM member, had hit his early 20s, he had undergone six knee and four back surgeries. All of which came with a host of prescribed pain pills to aid in his recovery.
Unfortunately, this sort of access to drugs left Gendron addicted to them.
“I used a range of things, but my main ones were OxyContin and Fentanyl,” recalled Gendron. “But I still was pretty high functioning. I worked and went to the gym. I hung out with friends. I did all the regular things that people do, I was just never sober and clear-minded when I did those things.”
It was his fiancé who brought his addiction to the attention of his father. Since his dad was an IAM member, Gendron was able to get help through the Machinists Union. In two days, everything was set – a plane ticket was booked and a dual diagnosis treatment facility was awaiting his arrival.
“It was amazing and super quick. It took a lot of the stress off my shoulders,” said Gendron. “I didn’t really have to handle any of it on the front end. It was easier to just go there and not have to think about much else. I just had to focus on getting better.”
Dalton Gendron credits the IAM Addiction Services for helping turn his life around.
“I wouldn’t send our members anywhere I wouldn’t send my own son or daughter,” said Ceraso emphatically. “I live by that. I won’t send you anywhere I wouldn’t send my own blood,”.
What eliminated further stress for Gendron is how the IAM worked with his company to ensure he still had a job after recovery.
“The IAM handled everything with my HR department,” said Gendron. “It really helped knowing that I had a job to come back to.”
Ceraso has taken it a step further now.
“At the start of 2020, before the world changed due to COVID-19, we put together a one-page contract insert that I encourage any bargaining unit to consider,” said Ceraso. “Not only does it explain the program to members and the company, but it offers a way to protect the person seeking help, without the fear of discipline, if they call us.”
Today, Gendron is sober, a year and a half and counting. He did the hard work of rehab, but recognizes the importance of having the IAM in his corner at the beginning.
When asked where he would be today without the union, he told a narrative too many addicts tell.
“Single without a girlfriend. Possibly no place to live or, worst case scenario, dead,” said Gendron without hesitation. “I mean, with the kind of stuff I was doing, I’ve seen a lot of people die from it, and I could have very easily been the next one.”
Instead, his narrative, and Avery’s, are both full of hope.
“I’m sober. I got married last year, I bought a house this year and I am opening a business next year so a lot has changed in a short amount of time but it’s all been amazing,” said Gendron with a big smile.
“I can’t ever promise that I’ll never drink again, but I can say that I will do my very best every day to stay on track and work the program,” said Avery. “And as long as I do that, I’m going to be just fine. I know that. I do know that.”
Ceraso said this program has surpassed all expectation he had when he started. Some days, he’s just astounded.
“Every single day, I wake up proud of this program because every day I know that the union which employs me had the consciousness of making this help available to its membership,” said Ceraso with a smile. “And every single day I get to help our members get healthy and stay alive.”
In the midst of a tough negotiation with GE Datex-Ohmeda, IAM Local 1406, IAM District 10 members and their families recently gathered for a rally in Madison, WI as a sign of solidarity and to remind the company that these were the hardworking men and women who spent the pandemic on the frontlines building anesthesia, respiratory and infant care machines. Their life-saving ventilators were used around the world to fight the pandemic.
“As the pandemic raged it was workers, not CEOs, who kept this country from falling apart,” said IAM District 10 Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra. “The members of IAM 1406 worked tirelessly to build the ventilators that saved countless lives and made General Electric massive profits. District 10 is incredibly proud to represent these heroes and I call on General Electric management to reward them appropriately.”
“Our members put everything on the line during the pandemic to help produce equipment that saved lives. They risked their health and the health of their family members to come to work because they knew, there were lives at stake,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “It’s now time for the company to honor their hard work and sacrifices by negotiating a contract that takes care of these working class heroes, the way in which they took care of the American public.”
Without much fanfare or recognition, these IAM members made history during the pandemic and saved lives when this country needed it the most.
Amazing stories by our Local 1406 members at the #GE
Datex-Ohmeda facility in Madison, Wisconsin.
At the start of the COVID-19 surge in 2020, the group agreed to a one-year contract extension with the hope of securing a new and equitable collective bargaining agreement for the members once the pandemic had settled. The agreement allowed GE salary employees to work alongside production employees for a few months as the company attempted to meet global production needs. Due to the continued need for medical equipment, GE Datex-Ohmeda increased its production employee hiring efforts through 2020.
“Every ventilator we get off the end of our line and out of our building is saving a life,” said IAM Local 1406 member Trevar Smedal, who works at Madison’s GE Datex-Ohmeda manufacturing plant. https://t.co/xvXii39Ezz
Today, with the full backing of the IAM, the membership is at the negotiation table demanding a new contract which will provide long-term job security, wage increases, safe and reasonable working conditions, strong benefits for the membership and their families and a secure retirement plan.
The group hopes the sacrifices made by themselves and their families during the pandemic will be recognized by the company with a fair IAM contract. Today, the IAM and the company are continuing to negotiate for a future collective bargaining agreement. Both parties have agreed to a nine-day extension, which expires on June 24, 2021. A ratification vote could happen before that date.
“It was great to be able to meet Secretary Walsh and briefly discuss issues facing IAM families,” said Kirch. “It’s great to see our government working to boost the economy and improve the lives of American workers and their families.”
“Working Americans have been left behind for far too long,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “It’s about time to have an administration meeting with working families and supporting pro-worker legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.”