LEGISLATION INTRODUCED GIVING MARYLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY EMPLOYEES THE RIGHT TO JOIN UNIONS: The IAM is supporting legislation sponsored by Maryland State Del. Steve Johnson (D-34A), which would provide a consistent process for employees of unorganized public library systems in Maryland to form a union and collectively bargain. State Sen. Nancy King (D-39) is cross-filing the legislation in the Senate.
“All of our state’s hard-working library workers deserve a voice in the workplace,” Sen. King said. “These public servants are so important to their communities, and they deserve a process to collectively bargain if they wish to do so.”
This legislation, House Bill (H.B.) 65, does not guarantee union organizing or require library system employees to form a union. H.B. 65 enables Maryland library workers to organize for union representation, should they wish to do so.
“This is a constitutional bill,” Del. Johnson said. “This important piece of legislation gives our state’s unorganized public library workers a clear and consistent pathway to use their constitutional right to join a labor union if they wish.”
In 2022, the IAM ratified its first collective bargaining agreement covering about 460 Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) employees. The one-year collective bargaining agreement, which was overwhelmingly ratified by BCPL employees in May, includes pay increases and paid leave, among other significant improvements.
The plight of BCPL workers seeking a pathway to organize also gained the attention of President Joe Biden, who invited a BCPL member to speak before the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.
“Library workers in every county of Maryland should have the same ability to join a union if they choose,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr. in a letter to members of the Maryland Assembly. “Library workers’ ability to exercise their right to join a union in the state of Maryland should not be based on the county system in which they work, but instead on the universally-recognized right to freedom of association. This freedom should be available to any library worker who wishes to seek the option.”
MACHINISTS UNION URGES ALCOA TO STOP PLANNED DEMOLITION OF WASHINGTON STATE INTALCO ALUMINUM SMELTER: The IAM is urging Alcoa’s CEO to halt the planned demolition of the Intalco aluminum smelter in Ferndale, Wash., the last such remaining facility west of the Mississippi River.
Nearly three years ago, 700 union members at IAM Local 2379 (District 160) were laid off at the Ferndale Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter production plant as the plant entered curtailment. From the moment the facility was shuttered, the IAM has been working with all willing partners and stakeholders to reopen the smelter and restore these high-quality union jobs. The project, if not demolished, could restore aluminum manufacturing jobs in Washington state, reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses and increase energy efficiency if reopened.
The United States now produces only 1 percent of the world’s aluminum, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report. China ranks first with approximately 57 percent of global aluminum production. Russia ranks third.
Click here for the full letter from IAMAW International President Robert Martinez Jr. to Alcoa CEO Roy Harvey.
“Since the curtailment of the Intalco smelter more than two years ago, the IAMAW has worked to assemble a coalition of supporters who understand the importance of preserving a domestic aluminum industry in the United States and the critical role the Intalco Works smelter in Ferndale, Washington plays,” said Martinez. “Thanks in large part to the IAMAW’s advocacy and coalition building, Congress included critical support for domestic aluminum producers in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These aluminum industry-focused provisions in the IRA have created a path forward for this facility to reopen and once again start producing strategically important domestic aluminum and put more than 700 IAMAW members back to work in Ferndale.
“With the passage of the IRA, the IAMAW assembled a management, investment, and advocacy team that came very close to achieving our goal of restarting the smelter under new ownership/management,” said Martinez. “Unfortunately, with electricity prices recently spiking in the Northwest the lead investor involved in the restart of Intalco Works concluded they could not proceed with the project. Undeterred, the IAMAW and other supporters of the project went to work to find a new lead investor. That work is currently ongoing, and real progress is being made, but the IAMAW needs more time for new investor to perform their due diligence. On behalf of the IAMAW, the workforce at Intalco Works, the Ferndale community, and the nation at large; we urge you to pause the proposed demolition of the Intalco Works.”
IAM DISTRICT 751 PRESIDENT SELECTED TO SERVE ON FAA SAFETY PANEL: IAM District 751 President and Directing Business Representative Jon Holden was recently appointed to a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) panel to review Boeing’s safety management processes. The 24-member panel was required by Congress under a 2020 law to reform how the FAA certifies new airplanes.
The appointment comes days after Congress recently reached an agreement on an end-of-year government spending bill that included an amendment granting Boeing a modification to the certification deadline, which would allow the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10 jets to complete aircraft certification without significant disruptions. The amendment, which includes several mandatory safety enhancements, protects thousands of Machinists’ jobs by ensuring a deadline included in legislation passed in 2020 does not apply to the MAX 7 and MAX 10 models that have yet entered service.
Holden was hired at the Boeing Co., starting his career at the Everett, Washington plant in 1997. Since 2014, Holden has served as the president and directing business representative of IAM District 751, which represents about 32,000 aerospace workers at Boeing and other suppliers, as well as other manufacturing industries.
“It’s an honor to represent our members’ voice on the future and culture of Boeing,” said Holden. “Our members are on the frontlines daily and understand the processes needed to ensure the customer’s safety and well-being. This panel is a step in the right direction and allows us to strengthen our presence in the aerospace industry.”
The panel is tasked with reviewing the Boeing Co.’s safety management processes and will have nine months to complete the review and issue findings and recommendations.
IAM, UNION COALITION URGES THE SENATE TO REINSTATE THE FEDERAL TAX DEDUCTION FOR WORKERS’ UNION DUES: The IAM, along with other unions, wrote a letter to Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to endorse the bipartisan pro-union Tax Fairness for Workers Act (H.R. 2549 / S. 1157). The act provides an above-the-line individual tax deduction for workers’ union dues payments, delivers direct cash tax benefits to millions of middle-class Americans, helps increase union membership, and strengthens labor unions’ capacity to negotiate for increased wages, better benefits, and safer, healthier workplaces.
“Unions are essential to holding corporations accountable for the wage inequities between workers and CEOs and unfair treatment,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “If corporations are allowed to deduct union-busting expenses and other anti-union activity, then it’s only fair that workers should be able to deduct dues expenses for their pursuit of improved wages and benefits.”
“Our members are troubled the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the longstanding tax benefit for unreimbursed workplace expenses, and workers are especially frustrated the law forbids them from deducting their union dues payments,” reads the letter.
In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was enacted, which stated that workers couldn’t deduct the cost of the union dues they pay to support their unions.
MARYLAND/DC STATE COUNCIL OF MACHINISTS CHARTS PRO-LABOR FUTURE: The Maryland/District of Columbia State Council of Machinists met recently to discuss priorities for the IAM with a new, pro-worker governor in the Old Line State.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D), who was endorsed by the State Council, took the oath of office last week and inherits a Democratic majority in the state’s House of Delegates and Senate.
The IAM is currently pursuing legislation that would provide a consistent process for employees of unorganized public library systems in Maryland to form a union and collectively bargain. The legislation, H.B. 65, has been introduced by State Del. Steve Johnson and is being cross-filed by Sen. Nancy King.
The IAM is also working with a coalition of unions to give a tax break to union families in Maryland. IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. submitted testimony in support of legislation that would allow for a subtraction modification of union dues in state taxes. The legislation, H.B.2, would undue some of damage done by the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took away union dues tax deductions.
Delegates to the state council heard from State Council President Rick Compher, who last year retired as Directing Business Representative of IAM District 4. Representatives from the IAM Eastern Territory, IAM Air Transport Territory, IAM Political and Legislative Department, and several other IAM departments also spoke to delegates.
Maryland/DC AFL-CIO President Donna S. Edwards also addressed the delegation, and pledged the full support of the state federation on the IAM’s legislative priorities in the state.
“From innovative organizing campaigns at Apple and the public library systems, to our strong presence in aerospace, defense and other industries, the IAM is a growing power in the state of Maryland,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “We look forward to working with Governor Moore and leaders across the state to continue our fight for Maryland working families.”
CONGRESS PASSES PREGNANT WORKERS FAIRNESS ACT: Last month, Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) as part of its $1.7 trillion dollar spending bill. The law requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers. The PWFA would create a clear standard requiring employers to engage with workers and provide reasonable accommodations to workers with pregnancy-related limitations.
The accommodations include:
- More frequent breaks
- Flexibility in schedule for doctor appointments
- Reassigning tasks that include heavy lifting
PWFA had bipartisan support in both the U.S. Senate and House, and was endorsed by organizations and groups across the political spectrum.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act allows pregnant people to remain on the job to support their families without risking their health or the health of their baby.
MACHINISTS UNION, ALLIES URGE CREATION OF CLEAN ENERGY MANUFACTURING JOBS: On January 18, the Machinists Union and other labor and advocacy organizations sent a letter to President Biden to ensure that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is implemented as intended, which includes measures to advance a new wave of manufacturing jobs and rebuild trust with American workers taking into account good clean energy jobs.
The letter comes as a response after the European Union and other trading partners’ claims that the structure of tax incentives for manufacturing in the clean energy economy offered through the IRA violates World Trade Organization (WTO) and Free Trade Agreement rules.
“The IRA creates provisions to create and support good clean energy jobs helping communities that have been affected by outsourcing and failed trade policies,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “The Administration shouldn’t be dissuaded by outdated trade rules not intended to support emerging industries and must keep its promise to working Americans to reignite our manufacturing industries.”
The IRA has the potential to create historic clean energy investments that would lead to good paying union jobs.
The IAM has made it clear that it will continue to advocate for strong middle-class jobs and will oppose any trade rules that are detrimental for the industries we represent.
The letter sent to the White House was signed by the Machinists Union, Public Citizen, the United Steelworkers, the United Auto Workers and Sierra Club.
NFFE-IAM PRAISES CONFIRMATION OF ROB SHRIVER AS DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF OPM: The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) praises the U.S. Senate confirmation of Robert Shriver as Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). In this position, which has been vacant for nearly two years, Shriver will be second-in-command to OPM Director Kiran Ahuja.
Early in his career, Shriver worked as an attorney with the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), representing federal employees in litigation at all levels of the Federal judiciary. In his most recent role as OPM’s Associate Director of Employee Services, Shriver had been a staunch supporter of federal employees and a pro-worker ally of NFFE.
“Congratulations to Rob on being confirmed by the Senate to a critical position at OPM,” said NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin. “He is highly qualified for the role, and I have no doubt that he will continue to strengthen the civil service and promote the wellbeing of federal employees both at home and abroad. Thank you to President Biden for nominating a proven leader who has the full support of the labor community.”
IAM DISTRICT 54 PRESIDENT SITS AT SENATOR’S ROUNDTABLE TO ADVOCATE FOR VETERANS: IAM District 54 Vice President and Veterans Committee Chairman Fred Confer recently attended a veterans roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) facility in Ashland, OH.The roundtable discussed the newly-established PACT Act, the benefits it will provide for veterans, and how to make those benefits accessible to veterans as efficiently as possible.
Also sitting at the roundtable was the Ashland County Sheriff, representatives from Ashland County Veterans Services, officers from the VFW, and Mansfield Veterans Affairs Clinic workers.
About 20 veterans from the community observed the discussion, some of whom Confer served with in Desert Storm. Confer served in the United States Army (active, reserves, and National Guard) from 1976 to 1997, reaching the rank of Sergeant.
Confer has been an IAM member for a little over 18 years, and he serves as Vice President of the Ohio State Council of Machinists and President of Local 1297, in addition to his District Lodge 54 positions.
At union meetings, Confer distributes IAM Veterans Services information and gives reports on Veterans Committee activities and initiatives.“I’m just trying to educate people on the resources that are out there for veterans,” said Confer. “I plan on attending the IAM’s Veterans Services classes at W3 so that I can help other veterans and learn about all of the ways we can continue advocating for veterans.”
“Fred is known in the Ashland community as a resource for veterans,” said IAM District 54 President and Directing Business Representative T. Dean Wright Jr. “He was the first person to be invited to Senator Brown’s veteran’s roundtable, and they couldn’t have chosen anyone to better speak on policy intended to support veterans.”
“Brother Confer served our country in the Army and is continuing his service to the community as a political advocate for workers and veterans,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “It is our responsibility as activists to do right by our military veterans, and fight for them. I’m thankful to members like Fred who use opportunities in the union, like the Ohio State Council of Machinists, to get involved with political matters and help our communities.”
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