This week, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) responded to correspondence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack with a letter outlining solutions and next steps to help alleviate retention problems among federal wildland firefighters. The proposed solutions include permanent pay raises, increased funding and staffing, and the development of a robust occupational series, among other things.
“NFFE, Secretary Vilsack, and other leaders within USDA have a great working relationship and a commitment to reforming the wildland firefighting workforce for a better future,” said President Erwin. “However, it was necessary to share the concerns that we were hearing from our members on pay, the occupational series, and other issues. As we begin making policies to resolve these issues, it is critical that we address each problem as best as possible, and that we do it right the first time. We are confident that Secretary Vilsack will join us in implementing solutions that NFFE wildland firefighters have recommended to meet the challenges we see today.”
Last week, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives requesting that members of congress vote for the Preventing a Patronage System Act (H.R. 302) expected on the House floor this week. The bipartisan legislation aims to protect the merit system principles of the federal workforce by preventing the U.S. president from requiring political loyalty from the apolitical career ranks of federal civil service. The bill was drafted in response to the establishment of Schedule F during the last presidential administration, a new classification of political employees that can be hired into permanent positions without regard to existing laws governing federal employment and accountability.
“Federal labor, executives, and professional associations all agree with political appointees from former Democratic and Republican administrations that this bill is critical to ensuring the government remains in the hands of the American people and not some political despot, even if that despot is a president,” said NFFE-IAM Executive Director Steve Lenkart. “This bill describes an incredibly wonky policy issue that is difficult for the average American to embrace, but should the day arrive when federal workers are forced to genuflect before a corrupt system or leader, we will all endure a brutal and horrifying crippling of American democracy.”
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2022 — The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), North America’s largest airline union, today announced that it will file an application with the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that conducts union representation elections in the airline and railroad sectors. The IAM has sufficient interest among JetBlue Fleet Service workers to conduct a union representation election.
“I congratulate all JetBlue Ground Operations workers for uniting in solidarity and demanding that a union representation election be conducted,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It’s been a long road for these brave workers to get to this point, and the IAM stands shoulder to shoulder with them. We will mobilize our union’s significant resources to ensure that these brave and resilient JetBlue workers have a fair and free election.”
JetBlue Ground Operations workers rebooted their efforts to gain union representation in 2021 after working through the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the worst financial downturn in the airline industry’s history.
“It’s high time that JetBlue workers gain the dignity and respect of a union contract, and a strong voice on the job,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richard Johnsen. “When our country needed essential goods and services to where they were needed most during the pandemic, JetBlue workers answered the bell and risked their lives and health to make that happen. What did they get from management? They got their hours and pay cut because they didn’t have a seat at the table. That will end very soon.”
“I also fully expect for JetBlue management to adhere to the law and allow JetBlue workers to vote without influence, coercion and interference from JetBlue management. If not, we will leave no stone unturned to hold them accountable,” continued Johnsen.
JetBlue workers have cited below-standard industry pay rates and benefits, poor and unsafe working conditions, unjustified discipline and terminations, among many other issues as reasons to gain IAM representation and a seat at the table.
“JetBlue workers are a smart, strong and determined group of workers and we can’t wait to welcome them into the IAM family,” said IAM District 141 President Mike Klemm. “The IAM will support JetBlue workers in getting to and winning this election and negotiating a union contract that reflects their true value to JetBlue Airways.”
The IAM is the largest airline union in North America and represents airline workers at every major U.S. airline.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is one of the largest and most diverse industrial trade unions in North America, representing approximately 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, airlines, railroad, transit, healthcare, automotive, and other industries.
For more than 25 years Jim Smith, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and retired IAM Eastern Territory Chief of Staff, has wanted to memorialize military veterans in his South Lebanon, OH community, where Smith serves as mayor.
His vision became a reality after raising funds for the construction of the South Lebanon Veterans Memorial. The city first acquired 3.5 acres for the memorial. It features a 150-diameter circle of the highest-quality stone with walls lining the inside, one for each branch of the military and one with 220 local veterans’ names next to their pictures. Art on the walls is customized with pictures of South Lebanon veterans. Smith himself installed a lighting system inside the stone that illuminates the walls at night.
Knowing that the Machinists Union prioritizes honoring military veterans, Smith had approached IAM Headquarters General Vice President Brian Bryant about a donation from the IAM.
“When Jim, who is a long-time friend, came to see if the IAM wanted to help in making the Memorial possible, I was immediately inspired and humbled,” said Bryant. “IAM leadership made the call to make a donation to the project because we believe in honoring those who have served our country, and we know that our members in Ohio are proud to have their union contribute to such an incredible project for the community.”
“When you retire from the IAM you never really retire. This union is a lifestyle,” said Smith. “A lot of members come to see the memorial and when they see their union logo on that plaque it makes them feel good about what they’re a part of,” said Smith.
The memorial is in honor of South Lebanon’s Revolutionary War soldiers and all of the veterans who served the country and community from 1795 to the present.
Not only did Smith help to design the memorial and solicit all of the donations, both monetary and in-kind, that made it possible, but he and three other Marines actually built the memorial. He also commissioned limited-edition coins of the memorial.
The community had a huge celebration for the memorial’s dedication; it was standing-room only. State representatives, local officials, judges, military, and the high school band were there. The Marine Corps Honor Guard participated in the ceremony, and Major General Deborah Ashenhurst (U.S. Army, retired) spoke.
“It was an emotional event—people seeing pictures of their loved ones—it’s hard to describe how nice the memorial is,” said Smith. “I’m proud of it; of all the things I’ve done, this one of the most satisfying accomplishments of my whole life.”