Minnesota Local 459 President Keith Handt talks about the tour he and other Machinists at Bell Lumber and Pole gave of their plant during the Wood, Pulp and Paper Conference. The site visit was an opportunity to see firsthand how telephone poles are Machinist-made.
The IAM and over 65 diverse organizations recently sent a letterto the tri-agencies (Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor), marking 100 days of enactment of the NoSurprises Act (NSA). In the wake of attacks against the act, the letter urges the tri-agencies to stand firm and enforce its provisions, which protect patients from surprise medical bills that arise when insured consumers inadvertently receive care from out-of-network hospitals, doctors, or other providers they did not choose.
“We strongly encourage you to defend and implement the No Surprises Act in a way that protects patients from exploitation, reduces health care costs, and adheres to the intent of the law as it was written,” reads the letter. “The principles and overall approach taken by the Departments throughout the two interim final rules should continue to guide the rulemaking process toward a prudent solution that addresses the underlying market failure and prioritizes consumers over private equity. To that end, the QPA remains the central part of the law and should remain a central part of the IDR regulations and guidance.”
The new law took effect for health plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, and it applies to nearly all private health plans offered by employers (including grandfathered group health plans and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program), as well as non-group health insurance policies offered through and outside of the marketplace. The law also contains other related provisions, including a requirement for health plans to keep network provider directories up-to-date.
“The proper administration and implementation of the No Surprises Act will reduce healthcare costs and protect patients from exploitation from providers,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “These are tough financial times, and patients need to be protected from unwarranted bills.”
Photo (from left to right): Carl Lakin (TCU/BRC), Rich Johnson (TCU/BRC), Chris Browning (IBB), Josh Hartford (IAM Rail Div.), Mike Miller (TCU/ARASA), Kyle Loos (IAM District 19), Don Grissom (TCU/BRC)
Leaders from the IAM Rail Division (including TCU Carmen Division and IAM District 19) recently participated in a three-day technology seminar conducted by the leadership of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).There were various presentations and discussions ranging from the regulatory processes for technology testing, data handling, FOIA/redaction regs, the new infrastructure law, new Tier 3 braking systems, HazMat, greenhouse gas emissions technology, and others.
“We’re glad to see the FRA finally reaching out to the rail labor community to better understand our concerns,” said Josh Hartford, Special Assistant to IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. for the IAM Rail Division. “Biden’s FRA Administrator Amit Bose has done a great job turning the FRA’s focus towards rail workers, and this meeting is just the most recent example of his efforts.”
FRA officials heard directly from labor representatives on a variety of issues, including: labor’s ongoing frustrations with FRA’s rubber-stamping of railroad waivers, allowing railroads to replace carmen inspections with various wayside scanners, locomotive inspections issues, new locomotive and car technologies, and many others.
Rail Division leaders pressed the FRA on brake testing and inspections as well as FRA data quality and public access. Rail labor has repeatedly expressed concerns over the accuracy of FRA data, since it is all self-reported from the railroads. Nevertheless, the FRA is planning to improve data accuracy and access so that labor representatives can more easily hold railroads accountable on data discrepancies.
TCU Carmen Division President Rich Johnson specifically pressed the FRA on their suggested waiver parameters on new Tier 3 highspeed trainsets. “It’s incredibly unsafe to have defective brakes on trainsets going out the door. The suggested 5-day window for fixing these power and brake assemblies is unacceptable to the Carmen Division as well as the general public.” FRA noted that these were draft proposals.
The 3-day meeting was a good opportunity for FRA career staff to directly from rail workers’ representatives on the real world impact of their work, and we hope these and future meetings will better inform agency officials in the months and years ahead.
IAM District Lodge 34 Business Representative Donnie Rogers recently got the chance of a lifetime to meet President Biden. Rogers was invited to attend a speech the president gave discussing his domestic manufacturing policy at the United Performance Metals plant in Hamilton, OH.
“When it came my time, I was introduced as Donnie Rogers from the Machinists Union,” said Rogers. “As President Biden shook my hand, he immediately reminded me the Machinists Union was one of the first to endorse him and how much he supported union members. I told him that we appreciate what he has done so far and will do in the future for our membership.”
The president was joined by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), who are working on the Bipartisan Innovation Act, designed to create more jobs and boost domestic manufacturing. Versions of the bill have passed both the House and Senate, and now, a conference committee will work to resolve any differences.
“Donnie was a well-deserving member to represent the IAM at President Biden’s speech,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “The president continues to champion the same pro-union legislation that the Machinists fight for every day. This bipartisan act will help create good, union jobs, ensuring the futures of generations of Machinists.”
“At one point during the President’s speech, he turned and looked at me and made the statement ‘and one more thing, I know how to say the word union,’” added Rogers.
IAM District 112 recently conducted two shop steward training classes in Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL. The highly successful sessions were attended by 85 members, who took time out of their busy schedules to learn what it takes to be an effective shop steward.
District 112 Educator Steve Hernandez conducted the training at both locations and expressed that “this was by far the best turnout I have ever seen.”
“The most exciting part is that many of these members left the training fired up and ready to get involved,” said Matthew Murdaugh, District 112 President and Directing Business Representative. “I’ve had multiple members contact me expressing their desire to expand their knowledge even further by attending class at the Winpinsinger Center, in which a few have already been enrolled. We had stewards and executive board members from locals that are historically very difficult to get involved and send multiple attendees whom all left with a wealth of knowledge.”
“I am excited and very grateful for the tremendous turnout we had from our members for these shop steward training classes,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “It’s a great sign that our members are taking the initiative and being proactive in learning what it takes to become an effective steward. I want to give a special thanks to Brothers Murdaugh and Hernandez for their efforts in making these classes such an overwhelming success.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Federation of Federal Employees applauds the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 2499, the Federal Firefighter Fairness Act. Introduced by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), the bill establishes a presumption that federal firefighters with at least five years of service who develop serious health conditions, such as cancers and long-term illnesses, did so due to on-the-job exposure to smoke and other hazardous materials. The legislation also includes proactive measures to ensure that diseases suffered by federal firefighters are better reported and studied.
“For over 20 years, NFFE has advocated for legislation that guarantees federal firefighters who develop severe illnesses resulting from their service to the country receive adequate workers’ compensation benefits,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “This issue finally has the bipartisan support necessary to be passed into law, and we are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Salud Carbajal and Don Bacon in advancing the bill through the House. We urge the Senate to take action on the bill quickly, and deliver a necessary benefit for our brave federal firefighters who risk their wellbeing protecting the nation.”