Last week, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, USFS Chief Randy Moore, and Undersecretary Homer Wilkes outlining recommendations to permanently fix the housing situation for Forest Service employees. NFFE-IAM gathered data on specific housing issues from its members working for the Forest Service, as well as solutions that employees recommended.
There are several changes that the Forest Service can implement immediately to improve living conditions in the short term that are identified in the letter, including expediting repairs for government housing, adding simple amenities and new furnishings, waiving rent payments for housing that is below living standards, establishing housing stipends, purchasing campers, and building new housing.
In the longer term, the letter suggests making permanent, adequate, and affordable government housing available for all Forest Service employees, including space for workers’ families. Further, the letter recommends standardizing housing requirements so that all housing has proper amenities, furniture, Wi-Fi, heating, and air conditioning, allowing for safety, privacy, and respect for workers.
“Fixing the housing problems in the Forest Service will require allocation of additional financial resources, however, this is necessary for the agency to attract and retain the workforce it needs to accomplish its critical mission,” continued President Erwin. “The current state of housing represents a certain degree of neglect via programmatic funding to maintain housing conditions and adjust for modern life, such as access to electronic communications, or in the interests of family responsibilities to prevent firefighters from choosing between a career or a family.”
About 35 San Diego-area auto technicians from IAM Local 1484 (District 190) are on an unfair labor practices strike at Mercedes Benz of San Diego. An unfair labor practice (ULP) strike occurs when workers strike over an employer’s unfair labor practice. The ULP strike began on June 16.
“Our members are on the picket line to stand up for fairness in the workplace,” said IAM Local 1484 President Rudy Morales. “They are making a huge sacrifice to ensure every member gets treated with respect and dignity. Our members’ stand is noble because this fight is not only for themselves but for auto technicians throughout Southern California.”
IAM Local 1484 members became the first union at a Mercedes Benz dealership in Southern California when they voted to join the IAM in 2010. The members fought hard but didn’t receive their first contract until 2016.
Members at Local 1484 have experienced and reported unilateral changes in working conditions, direct dealing, unlawful interrogations, and unlawful terminations.
Mercedes Benz of San Diego recently fired 20 out of the 35 auto technicians.
“I, along with the rest of the members, want respect and dignity for the work we provide for the customers and the dealership,” said IAM Local 1484 Chief Shop Steward Pedro Gomez. “We went out on strike due to unfair labor practices. This ULP strike is a case of David versus Goliath. Our members stand united and will keep up the fight as long as it takes to get justice on the job.”
“IAM Local 1484 members are the true definition of grit and determination,” said IAM District 190 Area Director Kevin Kucera. “These hard-working mechanics are fighting not only for our members at this dealership but for auto technicians throughout Southern California. IAM District 190 will dedicate our full resources to ensure they get these unfair labor practices discharged and the members who were wrongfully terminated get their careers back.”
IAM Local 1484 members and Mercedes Benz of San Diego are scheduled to resume negotiations with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) on Aug. 4.
“I am proud of the courage displayed by our members at Local 1484,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “The solidarity of this group makes every IAM member honored to be associated with the auto technicians on the picket line. The Western Territory will provide any support needed to get a victory for our members in Southern California.”
Members of Air Transport 1781 and 1782 joined together for a member appreciation event for both locals, who have worked through COVID-19 and other industry downturns.
“Our members have had to deal with COVID-19 and all the other trials and tribulations over all the airline industry the past couple of years,” said IAM Local 1781 President Tony Parker. “So, we wanted to organize an event to make them feel appreciated since the companies don’t want to.”
Held in San Francisco, the event hosted several food trucks, games, and prizes to create an excellent appreciation experience for the membership.
Additionally, the event raised money for one of the IAM’s most significant community partnerships, Guide Dogs of America, where Air Transport General Vice President Richard Johnsen endured his time in the dunk tank to raise funds. IAM Air Transport Chief of Staff Edison Fraser also attended the event.
“Another great day, another great event for Locals 1781 and 1782,” said Johnsen. “It is an absolute privilege to be here today to honor our members and retirees.”
Due to COVID-19, our ability to interact with each other changed instantly. As a result, many plans and events that could bring us all together were put on indefinite hold. This was equally true for members who elected to retire during this time.
“Last year, we had to recognize through COVID that all of our members that took the opportunity to retire and didn’t have the opportunity to come out and gather like this today,” said IAM District 141 Assistant General Chair Olu Ajetomobi. “So, I want to thank everybody for coming out and meeting with all your members.”
Local 1782 is currently in the middle of complex contract negotiations with United Airlines. Therefore, this event also, in part, wants to remind the members to stand firm in solidarity.
“United wants to be the leading airline, so they need to take care of us like we are leading industry workers,” said IAM Local 1782 President Wendy Goodell.
The member appreciation event, which has turned into a yearly event, celebrated its second anniversary at a time when unity is needed in San Francisco and across the nation.