IAM Rail Division Testifies Before the Surface Transportation Board — NFFE-IAM, IAFF Secure Critical Workers’ Compensation Program For Federal Firefighters– IAM Urges President Biden to Halt All Russian Wood Imports

May 10, 2022 | Machinists On The Hill

IAM RAIL DIVISION TESTIFIES BEFORE THE SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD ON PRECISION SCHEDULED RAILROADING, URGENT ISSUES IN FREIGHT RAIL SERVICE: Matt Hollis, National Vice President and Special Assistant to the President for Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM), testified before the Surface Transportation Board this week. Hollis testified on behalf of the IAM Rail Union to address urgent issues in the freight rail service. Other speakers included U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh, and Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel of the Federal Maritime Commission.  

WATCH: STB Hearing on Urgent Issues in Freight Rail Service

The Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) and IAM District 19, which together represent tens of thousands of rail workers, will become part of the IAM Rail Division on May 1, 2022.

The testimony highlighted three specific crafts in the rail industry that reveal the impact of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) on the workforce and current issues with freight rail service. 

“From my position at TCU/IAM, I have had a front-row seat to the complete and utter degradation of our nation’s Class 1 railroads over the past six to seven years,” said Hollis. “I’ve watched as private equity firms have acquired controlling stakes in railroads only to use their power to deploy business models that extract as much wealth as possible, to the detriment of the railroads’ workers, their customers, and ultimately, the public interest. The Class 1 railroads have deployed their variations of the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) business model – a misnomer, as any real railroader would tell you that PSR is neither precise nor well-scheduled and hardly resembles what they would call ‘railroading.’ A more accurate description would be doing ‘less with less’ – or moving fewer carloads with drastically fewer employees.”

Read Hollis’s full testimony here. 

The Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) represents approximately 46,000 members in the U.S., most employed in the railroad industry.

NFFE-IAM, IAFF, SECURE CRITICAL WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PROGRAM FOR FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS: Last week, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE/IAM) joined U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Department of Labor (DOL) officials in Los Angeles as they announced changes to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) for federal firefighters. Over the past several months, NFFE/IAM has been urging DOL to establish a special claims unit to address the unique challenges that federal firefighters have been faced with in submitting claims and receiving adequate healthcare. The special claims unit is now being implemented to better serve the heroes combatting the wildfire crisis.

Read the complete article here

MACHINISTS UNION URGES PRESIDENT BIDEN TO HALT ALL RUSSIAN WOOD IMPORTS: The  IAM, one of the largest unions to represent woodworkers in the U.S., recently called on President Joe Biden to implement an executive order that would halt imports of all Russian and Belarusian soft- and hardwoods, as action intended to halt the funding of the violent invasion of Ukraine, and help spur more U.S. wood production.

“Our 600,000-member union stands in support of rejecting Russia’s violent military aggression towards Ukraine. That said, our union believes your administration’s ongoing series of sanctions against Russia and Belarus should also include banning all its wood products, which are often used for items such as furniture manufacturing,” IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr., said in the letter to President Biden. “Halting imports of Russian and Belarusian wood, because it is conflict timber and import is therefore illegal, would also cut off the financial gains used for furthering this unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

It has been reported that in 2021, Russia was the third-largest source of U.S. hardwood plywood imports at about $334 million. Lumber is a large economic engine for Russia, which exported about $12 billion in wood products across the globe last year, according to publications that cited data from Wood Resource Quarterly.

The IAM represents 20,000 workers in the nation’s wood, pulp and paper industries.

Banning Russian and Belarusian imports to the U.S., would also help create good-paying domestic jobs in the woodworkers industry if employers follow suggested guidelines, including worker’s rights, Martinez wrote.

“These guidelines would promote more good-paying and decent jobs for woodworkers and forestry workers throughout the U.S,” Martinez wrote.

Read the complete letter here.

MACHINISTS UNION SUPPORTS BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO HELP STOP PASSENGER ASSAULTS AGAINST AIRLINE WORKERS: The IAM supports the recent introduction of the bipartisan bill Protection from Abusive Passengers Act (H.R. 7433, S. 4019), which would help thwart passenger assault on airline workers.

The legislation, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), would direct the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to create and manage a program that bars passengers who are fined or convicted of serious physical violence against airline personnel from flying. 

“We greatly appreciate congressional lawmakers for taking the rising tide of passenger assault on airline workers very seriously,” said Richard Johnsen, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President. “These hard-working men and women are tasked with getting people to their destination safely, so we should always repay them by ensuring that airport and airline workers have a place that is safe for them too. I urge Congress to move swiftly to pass this legislation and give airline workers the safety and protections they deserve.” 

The legislation would also permanently ban abusive passengers from participating in the TSA PreCheck or Customs’ Global Entry programs.

This marks the latest effort by IAM transportation leadership urging lawmakers and federal agency officials to take actions to halt passenger assaults on airport and airline workers.

For example, earlier this year, the IAM joined a letter with other transportation unions, urging President Biden, U.S. Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to help find solutions to thwart the rising passenger assaults.

The FAA has reported a total of 5,981 passenger incidents in 2021, which is up sharply from previous years.

Machinists Union Urges Pro-Worker Provisions in Biden Administration’s Proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework: The IAM recently submitted a series of suggestions to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, offering pro-worker guidance as the two federal agencies are shaping a U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). The framework seeks to solidify ties with nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

IAM International President Robert Martinez, Jr., submitted formal comments in the U.S. federal registry, urging a focus on “trade policy that is worker-centric and does not follow any of the flawed trade policies in our past that have resulted in scores of job losses in the U.S.”

“In short, the IPEF agreement should place workers first. This means provisions like enforceable labor and environmental standards,” Martinez wrote. “Our nation’s workers often rely on trade, and what we want is a fair playing field, not policies that force U.S. workers to compete with horribly-abused sweatshop workers overseas. Our nation’s workforce can compete with other countries when we are given a fair chance.”

The Biden administration is in the early stages of shaping the IPEF, which has not finalized involved nations and could take nearly two years to complete. The proposed framework has been labeled as a means to counter China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The IPEF will includes the following pillars: fair and resilient trade; supply chain resilience; infrastructure clean energy, and decarbonization; and tax and anti-corruption.

Martinez offered policy suggestions such as enforceable, labor and environmental rules, as well as transparency in the negotiations process. He also cautioned that the IPEF should not resemble the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a once-proposed flawed trade deal under the Obama administration that would have gutted the nation’s manufacturing sector.

“Moreover, the problem this country has faced with supply chains is simply the result of bad trade policies that has allowed American jobs to go overseas and corporations to profit from low wages,” Martinez wrote. “Will IPEF’s proposal seek to address the real problems of our supply chain with remedies that will benefit the American worker? The Machinists Union is not sure that IPEF is the recovery road we seek, especially when real protective enforcement mechanisms are lacking.”

The IAM has not taken a position on the proposed IPEF, but has been actively engaged in continued discussions with the Biden administration’s trade officials and members of Congress.

The economic framework does not require congressional approval, but Martinez wrote that Congress, as well as labor unions and civil groups “should also be involved in the discussions and review process of this very important trade policy that will impact U.S. workers and their families.”

REGISTRATION FOR THE 2022 IAM LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE IS NOW OPEN:Take up the fight in our nation’s capital for policies that benefit working people. Join hundreds of your fellow IAM members at the 2022 IAM Legislative Conference from June 20 to 22, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Washington, 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001.

You must make reservations by Friday, May 13, 2022, to guarantee the IAM hotel room rate.

Get the official call letter, registration information, and hotel booking details here.

As part of the conference schedule, attendees will lobby members of Congress and remind them who they were elected to represent. In addition, machinists will hit Capitol Hill and talk about the issues that affect IAM members most, including the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, Buy American, transportation, trade, defense funding, retirement security, healthcare costs and more.

During general sessions, delegates will also hear from allies in Congress and attend a congressional reception hosted by the IAM.

Make a difference by participating in this important conference.

Register today.

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