‘Buy American’ Gets a Huge Boost — A True ‘Union Man’ in the White House — Fighting for Jobs in St. Louis

Mar 23, 2022 | Machinists On The Hill





PRESIDENT BIDEN’S HISTORIC ‘BUY AMERICAN EXPANSION ANSWERS DECADES-LONG CALLS FROM U.S. WORKERS: IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr., released the following statement regarding President Biden’s expansion of “Buy American”:
“The Machinists Union has championed and called for an expansion of ‘Buy American’ domestic content requirements for decades. Today’s announcement is further proof that in President Biden, we finally have a champion for U.S. workers in the White House.
“Today’s announcement makes real what we have been saying all along—that ‘Made in America’ should mean ‘Made in America.’ In fact, the Machinists Union, along with U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, championed an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that would have made a similar ‘Buy American’ threshold increase for defense products. That bipartisan amendment passed the House before being defeated by corporate-backed politicians in the Senate.
“The Biden administration is now applying that rule—that any product stamped with ‘Made in America’ should have 75% of its value come from parts made here in the United States—to all products purchased with taxpayer dollars by 2029.
This is critical for our domestic supply chains. It is music to the ears of American workers. It puts our tax dollars toward buying the best products made by the best workers. And it will finally make a real difference toward bringing back U.S. jobs that have been sent out of the country by bad trade deals and corporate greed.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Biden administration and the Made in America Office for hearing our call and the calls of millions of Americans. Let’s build the future right here in America.”

LET’S CONTINUE PRESIDENT BIDEN’S HISTORIC PROGRESS TOWARD A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR WORKING FAMILIES: IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. released this statement after President Biden’s first State of the Union address:

“The IAM was proud to endorse President Biden through a first-of-its-kind, rank-and-file membership vote. Through the activism of our members and so many worker-friendly allies, we now have a true ‘union man’ in the White House. For the first time in generations, we are witnessing an all-of-government approach to putting the interests of working families first.

“We are emerging from the pandemic with historic job growth. Working people are finally able to tip the scales in their favor, demanding higher wages and better benefits from their employers. The President promised to rebuild America and expand Buy American—and he is delivering for the best workers in the world. American manufacturing is back, and the IAM and our allies in the labor movement are just getting started. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create even more good jobs, while investing in our aging airports, public transit systems and more.

“But as the President said tonight, there is far more work to be done. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine makes even more clear, we must immediately strengthen our domestic supply chains, especially in the defense industry. We must take measures to lower consumer prices, broaden access to apprenticeship programs, create a national paid family and medical leave program, and protect our sacred right to vote. For the millions of Americans who want to join a union today, we also must pass the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

“These should not be partisan issues. This is about a better life for working families. We stand with the Biden administration and all allies of working people to create a brighter future for the generations to come.”   

MACHINISTS UNION SEEKS ASSISTANCE FROM MISSOURI CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION TO STOP GKN PLANT CLOSURE: The IAM has reached out to Missouri politicians to ask for their support and assistance saving approximately 1,000 family-sustaining jobs at GKN Aerospace in Hazelwood, Mo.

The IAM wrote letters to U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, as well U.S. Reps. Cori Bush, Ann Wagner, Sam Graves, Billy Long, and Vicky Hartzler to ask for their assistance in saving 600 IAM-represented manufacturing jobs and 400 support workers at the Hazelwood aerospace company.

Click here to read the letter.

GKN Aerospace recently announced plans to completely shut down this facility by the end of 2023, with layoffs commencing in mid-2022. Workers at the facility, many of whom are U.S. military veterans, have devoted their lives to proudly producing world-class aerospace components.

IAM Local 387 (District 837) members currently produce aircraft parts for a wide variety of U.S. Defense Department platforms, including the F-15, F-18A, CH-53, and Advanced Programs. The facility was previously owned by the Boeing Co., but was purchased by GKN in 2001. In 2018, GKN was purchased by British parent company Melrose Industries.

“The workers at this GKN facility in Hazelwood supply our men and women in uniform with precision aircraft parts needed to safely and effectively complete their mission of ensuring our national security,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Together their finely tuned skills and undeniable dedication are a key piece of our domestic aerospace supply chain. If this facility is allowed to close and this highly skilled workforce is disassembled, it will be a huge loss to our domestic manufacturing capabilities, which would be very difficult and costly to recreate.”

“The manufacturing and support workers at the GKN facility are essential workers in the state of Missouri,” said IAM Midwest General Vice President Steve Galloway. “These proud workers are part of the fabric of the community and for generations have produced vital components to the Department of Defense programs. The IAM will fully commit all our resources to keep this facility open. I urge all elected officials and community allies to join us in our fight to defend these working families.”

“The working families of Hazelwood and the surrounding communities built this company,” said IAM District 837 President and Directing Business Representative Tom Boelling. “Generations of dedicated, hard-working workers and their families have worked at this facility for generations. We hope the entire community can join together to keep these good jobs in the St. Louis area.”

IAM ADVOCACY FOR AVIATION MANUFACTURING JOBS PROTECTION PROGRAM SAVES THOUSANDS OF AEROSPACE JOBS: Thousands of IAM aerospace jobs have been saved or protected thanks to the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program (AMJP), a federal aerospace job protection program championed by the Machinists Union. The U.S. Transportation Department recently announced $482.3 million in funding to 313 businesses, including approximately 20 IAM-represented employees, including Spirit AeroSystems, Pratt and Whitney, Hexcel Corp., and Learjet.

The IAM aggressively advocated for and won the successful passage of the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program (AMJP), which is part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan. The program provides $3 billion in payroll support funding to aviation manufacturing employers, allowing them to keep aerospace manufacturing workers on their payrolls, avoid additional furloughs, and re-hire workers previously furloughed during the pandemic. For example, the USDOT provided $75.5 million to Spirit AeroSystems, estimated to save 3,214 jobs. Spirit, based in Wichita, KS, is a significant supplier for the Boeing Co.

“The IAM played a vital role in passing this critical legislation,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “This program ensures that the aerospace industry continues to thrive, as well as the working men and women who make it successful.”

The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection program establishes a temporary relief plan for aerospace supply chains affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The program provides up to 50% of both pay and benefits for the thousands of furloughed due to the pandemic. In addition, companies receiving these funds must commit not to conduct any layoffs or furloughs during the six-months in which the funds are in use.

Machinists Union members were among many workers in the aerospace industry who experienced layoffs and furloughs because of COVID-19. While air travel dropped significantly during 2020, so did the need for parts, repairs, modifications, and other services, hurting aerospace supply chain companies.

Other IAM employers who participated in the AMJP program include Arrow Gear LLC, Cytec, Jones Metal Products, Magellan Aerospace New York, NWI Nashville, NWI Wichita, Orizon Aerostructures, and 10 SAFRAN locations


RESTORING VOTING RIGHTS FOR ALL: Voting rights reform is critical to this country’s foundation. That’s why the labor movement will do all it can to protect the sanctity of our voting system and shine a spotlight on the laws and policies that aim to damage our nation. It’s time to put the American people back at the center of our democracy.

MACHINISTS UNION APPLAUDS HISTORIC NOMINATION OF KETANJI BROWN JACKSON TO SUPREME COURT: IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. issued this statement following President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court:

President Biden promised to nominate an extremely qualified candidate to the U.S. Supreme Court, who will also move the Court toward a more accurate representation of the American people. The President has delivered on that promise.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of our nation’s brightest legal minds, is eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. As a federal judge and in both private and public practice, Judge Jackson has built a lifetime record of fighting for the freedoms of all people. IAM and NFFE-IAM members in the federal sector saw her stand with them to block the Trump administration’s campaign to gut their collective bargaining rights.

“As the daughter of public school teachers, Judge Jackson knows what it means to serve and the challenges facing working people. She will help restore balance to the Supreme Court and ensure that working peoples’ voices are heard on the High Court. The IAM urges the Senate to move quickly on Judge Jackson’s nomination.”

BUILDING POLITICAL POWER IN ILLINOIS:  About 50 delegates with the Illinois State Council of Machinists recently gathered in Springfield, IL for a political conference. While there, IAM members heard from politicians, built a grassroots plan for the upcoming midterm elections and listened to union leadership.

UNIONS URGE DOJ TO PROTECT AIRLINE PASSENGER SERVICE AGENTS: The IAM, along with other unions, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland raising concerns regarding assaults against passenger service agents working across airports in the United States.

The letter urges the DOJ to use every tool at its disposal to pursue federal penalties against individuals who assault or interfere with passenger service agents.

TAKE ACTION: Add your name to ask the Justice Department to expeditiously act and protect passenger service agents

“These employees, who already endure the stresses of being frontline workers during a pandemic, have unjustly labored under the incessant threat of abuse and physical harm from unruly passengers unwilling to comply with COVID-19 masking measures or directions from airline and security staff, or who attempt to board aircraft while intoxicated and belligerent,” reads the letter.

Over the past few years, passenger service agents have experienced an increased level of severe physical and verbal assault and harassment incidents, with few repercussions for the offending passenger imposed by law enforcement.

“These incidents directly impact both the safety of crew and passengers,” said Richard Johnsen, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President. “Any unruly or disruptive behavior, whether related to intoxication, aggression or other factors introduces unnecessary risk to the normal operation of a flight. The DOJ has statutes in place to rectify this increasingly, volatile situation.”

The labor coalition expressed the need for all passenger service agents to expect a safe workplace, free from the threat of violence, and that increased cooperation is required to improve the safety of these employees.

Read the IAM’s letter to President Biden about the increase in assaults against passenger service agents.

NFFE-IAM TESTIFIES IN SENATE TO PROMOTE MERIT SYSTEMS PRINCIPLES AND WARN AGAINST DARK MONEY POLITICAL APPOINTEES: National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) Executive Director Steve Lenkart testified in a Senate hearing this week to promote Merit Systems Principles and caution lawmakers of corruption from political appointees. The purpose of the hearing was to review the success and gaps in the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Act of 2002, which has now been implemented for 20 years. Discussed were topics such as the proper relationship between OPM and agency CHCOs, if CHCOs have enough authority and flexibility to do their jobs, and how CHCOs can improve human capital to help agencies achieve their missions.

“Today’s hearing presented an opportunity to stress the importance of maintaining Merit System Principles as they are written in the law, and how these principles do not interfere with progress,” said NFFE-IAM Executive Director Steve Lenkart. “When we blame merit principles for suspending progress, we are really lying to ourselves instead of being more innovative. In reality, we need to be better and not backtrack on the rules that keep us honest.”

“Only dark money hacks and their funders complain about merit principles because they interfere with their mission to impart undue influence and corruption,” continued Lenkart. “There are a handful of people that pose serious threats to our democracy, who wish to corrupt government and skirt laws for a variety of reasons, all based on personal gain. We must end the ‘secret workforce within the workforce’ through the hiring of more career leaders, while minimizing the influence of political appointees by holding them to the same standards as career employees.”

“We are grateful the subcommittee invited NFFE-IAM to provide input on such an important issue to the function of the government,” said NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin. “It was encouraging to see bipartisan support for the federal Merit Systems Principles at today’s hearing. These principles are critical to continuing the prosperity of American democracy and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure that they are upheld.”

IAM OPPOSES FEDERAL LEGISLATION THREATENING DEALERSHIP TECHNICIANS’ WORKING CONDITIONS: The IAM recently wrote a letter to U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) on behalf of the thousands of highly-skilled automotive dealership technicians that the IAM represents. The letter was in strong opposition to Rep. Rush’s recently introduced legislation, the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair Act (H.R. 6570), also known as the REPAIR ACT

This proposed federal legislation risks vehicle safety and threatens working conditions such as fair wages for scores of workers in your representative district, including members of the IAM Mechanics Union Local 701. If the REPAIR ACT became law, it would completely negate the collective bi-partisan efforts of Illinois’ state bill HB-3940, which was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year, IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr., wrote in the letter.

READ: Landmark Victory for IAM Local 701 and Illinois Auto Technicians

IAM Mechanics’ Union Local 701 championed the state bill from its onset along with the assistance from the Illinois State AFL-CIO, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and the Chicago Automobile Trade Association.

“HB-3940 was intended to finally fairly compensate the automobile dealerships, which in turn, would fairly compensate the technicians working on warranty repairs at the retail rate,” Martinez wrote. “This collaborative effort was a bi-partisan effort to finally address the shortcomings paid from the manufacturers. This new law finally addresses concerns within our industry, which includes poor retention as technicians were leaving due to the pay methodology, as well as failure to attract youth to this highly-skilled craft. This state law is intended to remedy the nationwide technician shortage.”

“We worked really hard to champion an industry changing bill in Illinois in the hopes that it catches on in other states which finally addresses a fair means of compensation for technicians,” said IAM Local 701 Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli. “It would be disheartening to have the rug pulled out from underneath not only our members’ feet, but also the other deserving technicians striving for the same opportunity with a negating federal barrier.”  

“The IAM calls on Rep. Rush to put workers and American families first – not the profits of multi-billion dollar car manufacturers,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “Our members deserve fair wages and working conditions, and drivers everywhere deserve the peace of mind knowing that their vehicle has been repaired by a qualified technician. The IAM is vehemently opposed to this bill.”

Read the complete letter.

MACHINISTS UNION ENDORSED CANDIDATES MOVE FORWARD IN TEXAS PRIMARIES: Worker-friendly candidates who were endorsed by the Texas State Council of Machinists are moving forward in the Lone Star State.

Pro-worker Austin city council member Greg Casar won his race for Congressional District 35. Casar raised the city’s hourly minimum wage to $15 and authored the paid sick day law.

Jessica Cisneros, a champion for workers’ rights, has forced U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, into a runoff election in Congressional District 28.

Jane Hamilton, formerly chief of staff to IAM champion U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, is headed to a run off against Texas State Senator Jasmine Crockett.

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