IAM Urges Congress to Extend Airline Payroll Funding Program

The IAM is among several labor unions urging Congress to extend a provision of the CARES Act coronavirus relief law as an effort to thwart airline executives threatening to lay-off several workers in the fall.

The IAM signed a letter asking the federal lawmakers to extend the Payroll Support Program (PSP) contained in the CARES Act until March 31, 2021. The current provision expires Oct. 1, 2020.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to extend the airline Payroll Support Program (PSP)

“When the CARES Act job and pay protection we secured expires on October 1, the number of IAM members furloughed could easily rise into the tens of thousands, literally overnight,” IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja wrote in a letter to members. “Although passengers are slowly returning to the sky, the industry’s downturn will last far beyond CARES Act protections.”

Extension of the provision would provide $31 billion in increased funding over six months, in addition to extending requirements for involuntary furloughs. The CARES Act, signed into law in March, has included provisions like $114 billion for the transportation industry. That has mandated that the funds be exclusively used for continuation of wages and benefits for workers.

“Nobody likes to ask the government for assistance, but without additional intervention I fear a repeat of the multiple airline bankruptcies that marked the opening of this century,” Pantoja wrote in the letter to members. “Tens of thousands of IAM families, hundreds of thousands of airline families from outside our union, will soon be faced with devastating job loss unless action is taken.”

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GVP Conigliaro Visits Local S6 Strike Line as Support Pours in for Maine Shipbuilders

Pouring rain didn’t dampen the Fighting Machinist spirit of IAM Local S6 members, families and supporters on the picket line as Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. joined IAM shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine on Monday.

More than 4,300 members are entering their second week on the picket line, fighting for a contract that doesn’t expand non-union subcontracting or attack seniority provisions. Local S6 members overwhelmingly rejected the company’s so-called “last, best and final offer” on June 21.

“Our members build the best naval vessels on the planet, and BIW proudly proclaims it,” said Conigliaro. “The time for this company to start treating the workers with the same respect that ‘the best’ deserve has passed. We will not allow outside contractors to take over. This membership has worked too hard and given everything they have to this company and our servicemen and women. The proof is in the results, and this entire membership is unified and informed. I commend our members’ resolve in fighting for the contract they deserve and have earned as the best in the world.”

After gathering support from the Maine congressional delegation, IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. also appealed to President Trump, asking the White House to urge BIW to “put aside their misguided proposals to risk mission success by subcontracting our work to under-skilled contractors.”

The IAM has not received a response from the administration, but both presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez have issued strong statements in support of Local S6 members.

Martinez also exchanged letters with the CEO of General Dynamics, the parent company of BIW, asking the company’s top leader to work with the IAM to “resolve the issues that created this work stoppage and preserve the integrity and future of the highly skilled workforce at BIW.”

“Our thanks go out to communities and unions across the state for their continued support,” said IAM Local S6 President Chris Wiers. “I would like to extend my personal thanks and welcome to GVP Conigliaro. The support from the Eastern Territory and the IAM has been invaluable.”

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Machinists Lead Call for 100% Buy America Defense Products

The IAM is again leading the charge to strengthen Buy American requirements for defense procurement.

Working closely with U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), the IAM is encouraging members of Congress to support amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would raise Buy American requirements for major defense acquisition programs to 100 percent domestic content. The measures would bolster economic and national security and create good, middle-class jobs.

“Buy American policies serve the public good by targeting our tax dollars for the purchase of American made products and services, thereby employing U.S. workers and putting our federal tax receipts to work here at home,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “For far too long we have neglected to properly consider the impact of defense procurement policy on our domestic industrial base and, consequently, on the U.S. economy. We as a nation need to act strategically when it comes to defense procurement.”

Read Martinez’s letter to the House and Senate supporting Buy America.

“We must understand that the foundation of our industrial base lies with the skills and abilities of the American worker,” said Martinez. “These amendments would help ensure that our tax dollars are used to support the U.S. workforce and the firms who employ them.”

The proposed amendments would immediately increase Buy American requirements for major defense acquisition programs to 75 percent domestic content and then increase the percentage by 5 percent per year, until a 100 percent domestic content requirement is reached in 2026.

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Walk, Run, Ride… Whatever for Guide Dogs of America

With in-person events cancelled for most of the year, Guide Dogs of America (GDA) had to come up with a new socially distant fundraiser idea.

GDA initially considered a walk, run or ride to help raise money for the school, but decided there was a way to include everyone. Now, no matter how old you are or where you live, you can participate for an hour of anything in this year’s Walk, Run, Ride…Whatever.

From July 31 to August 2, 2020 challenge yourself, family and friends to get outside for an hour dedicated to GDA and the good work it does year round. You decide if you want to run, walk, ride a bike or motorcycle, bungee jump or whatever! The important thing is to put “fun” into this fundraiser.

Register here for GDA’s Walk, Run, Ride… Whatever.

Guide Dogs of America is the IAM’s favorite charity. At the beginning of this year GDA completed a merger, and now provides hardworking 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.

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IAM Mourns the Loss of Retired Grand Lodge Representative Jose Rodriguez

The IAM is sad to learn of the passing of Retired Grand Lodge Representative Jose Rodriguez at the age of 78. Rodriguez served the IAM for over 30 years before his retirement in April 2007.

Born in Ocotlan Jalisco, Mexico, Rodriguez was a U.S. Army veteran serving from 1960 to 1964. In 1965 he joined the Machinists Union while working at Thorsen Tool Manufacturing. Rodriguez quickly got involved with the union, serving in the capacity of steward, chief steward and president of Local 1566, delegate to District 115, executive board member and in 1973 became District 115 Organizer.

Rodriguez served the IAM in several capacities starting as a Business Representative in 1976 for Local 1546 in California. He was appointed at a Special Representative to the Western Territory in 1979 and then served as a Grand Lodge Representative from 1981 until his retirement in 2007. He serviced manufacturing, automotive, copper, bakeries, shipyards, and of course organizing in all those industries. In addition to his work with the IAM, Rodriguez promoted many Hispanic causes by his work as a LCLAA National Executive Board Member for many years. He was known throughout the Western Territory for mentoring many representatives.

“Jose Rodriguez was a trailblazer for people of color in the IAM and the Labor movement,” said Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “His example of selfless service to others inspired many to follow his lead. He often spoke out about the lack of diversity in the ranks of leadership when it was neither safe or popular – through his steadfast conviction he and others paved the way for more diversity at every level of the IAM! Jose and his good friend the late Andy Barnes (who was an African American) were both hired as GLR’s the same day by then GVP Justin Ostro. They both served as examples to those of us who were aspiring to be where they were. I will always remember my Brother Jose Rodriguez as a fierce fighter for the IAM and our Members a fine trade unionist, a pioneer and a good friend.”

“Brother Rodriguez dedicated over three decades of his life to serving the members of the IAM and fighting for working people,” said International President Robert Martinez Jr. “He was a true unionist and a great leader. I was proud to work with him in LCLAA and I know he will be missed by many! Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Rodriguez is survived by his beloved wife Rosa. Due to concerns regarding the coronavirus, the family will have a private funeral service.

Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to Guide Dogs of America at 13445 Glenoaks Blvd Sylmar, CA  91342.

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