Machinists Union Meets with USTR to Discuss Trade Priorities- IAM Veterans Services Steering Committee Testifies in Maryland- IAM Members Visit Florida Capitol to Discuss Sugar Industry

Mar 28, 2023 | Machinists On The Hill

MACHINISTS UNION MEETS WITH USTR TO DISCUSS TRADE PRIORITIES: IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. met with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai this week to discuss the Indo-Pacific Trade Framework (IPEF) and other trade priorities. The IAM also stressed the importance of having a robust, comprehensive strategy that coordinates policies in trade, combats harmful trade practices and don’t undermine the Buy American, Buy America and Buy Local provisions we support.

Martinez and the IAM delegation made clear that all potential trade frameworks should concentrate on bringing jobs back and growing jobs here at home.

“The IPEF agreement must include provisions that are worker-centered and meet important objectives that include labor rights enforcement,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “It’s imperative for the Administration to uphold the interests and rights of workers during the negotiating process of this trade deal to prevent mistakes from the past and set the foundation for fair models for trade.”

In March, the IAM and more than 400 civil society groups called on the administration to make strong labor rights commitments a central part of the proposed 14-nation IPEF.

The IAM has been actively engaged in the development of the IPEF to make sure it includes policies with strong and enforceable labor standards and delivers real benefits to working families.

IAM VETERANS SERVICES STEERING COMMITTEE TESTIFIES ON VETERAN SURVIVING SPOUSE BENEFIT: IAM Veteran Services Steering Committee members recently testified before a Maryland House of Delegates committee in support of Maryland House Bill 629(HB 629) in Annapolis, MD. The legislation, HB629/SB886, allows for a surviving service member’s spouse, under certain conditions such as death, suffering a service-connected disability, being declared a prisoner of war, or missing in action, to apply for a scholarship under the Edward T. Conroy Memorial Scholarship Program.

The IAM helped draft the state legislation, which aligns with the union’s platform to grow efforts to assist U.S. armed forces veterans, which includes tens of thousands among the 600,000-member organization. That effort included the IAM Veterans Services Steering Committee taking a break from their annual meeting at the Winpinsinger Center to make this vital trip to Annapolis in support of the legislation.

“As a proud U.S. Naval Air veteran, I know firsthand the importance our nation’s veterans have to our nation,” testified IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “We’ve sacrificed much for the freedom of this great nation, and that should be honored with strong benefits for veterans and their families. This state legislation is a great benefit for aiding family of veterans. Education is so important for the growth and prosperity of our nation.”

HB 629 was introduced by Brian Crosby (D- 29B), a veteran, and co-sponsored by Dels. Mike Rogers (D- 32) and CT Wilson (D- 28). The bill was cross-filed in the Senate by Sen. Ron Watson (D-23), who is also a veteran.

The Senate version of the bill recently passed the chamber in a 45-0 bipartisan vote and will now be considered by the House Appropriations Committee later this month.

“The mission of the Veteran Services Department and this Committee is to assist our military veterans and their families,” said Richard Evans, IAM Veterans Services Coordinator. “Our assistance doesn’t end with helping veterans file for benefits. It also includes advocating on our veteran’s behalf on legislation.”

You can read the testimony supporting this legislation from International President MartinezBryan Stymacks, Eastern Territory Grand Lodge Representative, and Local Lodge 4 President Jeremy Leissner.

IAM MEMBERS VISIT FLORIDA CAPITOL TO DISCUSS SUGAR INDUSTRY:  Members of the Florida State Council of Machinists recently visited legislators in Tallahassee to discuss the importance of jobs in sugarcane farming and manufacturing in Florida. In their meetings, they shared that sugarcane farming and production supports 19,201 jobs in Florida and has a $4.7 billion annual impact, including many union positions requiring skilled trades, such as machinists and welders.

Additionally, they discussed the Florida industry’s diverse workforce that reflects the citizens of the state, and the loyalty and respect among workers for the jobs – many are second or third generation in the shops and factories.

Sugarcane farming and production has offered Florida’s rural communities steady, quality jobs for more than 80 years. Even through economic downturns, agriculture has provided reliable jobs for our families and economic activity for our communities.

Some of the IAM members that travelled to Tallahassee this week included Frank Ortis, Brannan Thomas, Cornelius Fowler, Joaquin Almazan, Roger Schultz, Mike Phillips, Caroline Villanueva, Librado Lopez, Eddie Garcia, Jose Medina, and Terry Crawford.

The members met with Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, Sen. Lori Berman, Sen. Geraldine Thompson, Sen. Jason Pizzo, Sen. Traci Davis, Rep. Christopher Benjamin, Rep. Lindsay Cross, Rep. Marie Woodson, Rep. Ashley Gantt, Rep. Joanna Lopez, Rep. Hillary Cassel, Rep. Dotie Joseph, Rep. Kim Daniels, Rep. David Silvers, Rep. Joe Casello, Rep. Anna Eskamani, Rep. Daryl Campbell, Rep. Bruce Antone, Rep. Toby Overdorf, Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis, Rep. Kevin Chambliss, Rep. Dan Daley and Rep. Robin Bartleman.

IAM SUPPORTS LEGISLATION TO ESTABLISH GLOBAL SAFETY STANDARDS FOR U.S. AIRCRAFT REPAIRS TO PROTECT MAINTENANCE JOBS:  This week, U.S. Reps. Julie Brownley (D-CA) and Marc Molinaro (R-NY) introduced the Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 1716). The bipartisan legislation will institute a global safety standard for U.S. aircraft repairs and create measures to help prevent the offshoring of domestic aircraft maintenance jobs. 

A coalition of unions, including the IAM, sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to support H.R. 1716. 

Read the complete letter.

“The traveling public deserves to know that commercial aircraft maintenance is done under the strictest standards possible,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richie Johnsen. “As the largest air transport labor union in North America, we commend Congressman Molinaro for introducing the Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act.”

This piece of legislation mirrors a similar initiative to set global safety standards passed by the U.S. House in September last year and was then submitted to the Senate for consideration.

“The IAM will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul is performed by the best aircraft mechanics in the world under a standardized set of rules for U.S. carriers,” said Johnsen.

“If enacted, this bipartisan bill will hold foreign aircraft repair and maintenance to equal standards,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “The IAM supports and urges Congress to pass this legislation swiftly to ensure we strengthen global air transportation systems and preserve American jobs.”

“The U.S. has the safest air transportation system in the world, due to our rigorous standards for safety at all levels. It is past time that we close loopholes that allow foreign repair stations to undermine our safety standards,” said Brownley. 

“The FAA has certified nearly one thousand foreign maintenance facilities that service American aircraft. These foreign based facilities, however, are held to a lower safety standard, offshoring jobs that can be done in America,” said Molinaro. “We can enhance safety and encourage quality high paying jobs here at home.”

Read the complete letter. from the coalition of Unions. 

Read U.S. Reps. Brownley and Molinaro’s release here.

IAM APPLAUDS MICHIGAN’S IMMINENT REPEAL OF RIGHT-TO-WORK-FOR-LESS: The Michigan State House and Senate have recently approved bills repealing the state’s 2012 right-to-work-for-less law for private sector workers.

The bill removes language allowing employees at unionized workplaces not to pay any fees or dues to the union, thereby weakening unions and members’ bargaining power.

“Right-to-work-for-laws sabotage workers’ rights, voice, and principles,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “IAM members have fought hard for the working people of Michigan to help create this change. I hope this victory resonates, leading to more states repealing anti-worker laws. ‘Right to Work for Less’ has no place in our society.”

“The IAM will always stand with labor to fight laws designed to weaken worker rights and unions,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Workers in states that can collectively bargain have higher wages and better benefits than those who cannot. The Machinists are always ready to lend our voice and provide resources to help eradicate any injustices affecting working people.”

The legislation is expected to be successfully reconciled this week by the House and Senate before being sent to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. When she signs the bill, Michigan will be the first state in nearly six decades to repeal a right-to-work-for-less law.

IAM SUPPORTS NOMINATION OF PHILLIP A. WASHINGTON AS FAA ADMINISTRATOR: IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce Leadership urging them to advance the nomination of Phil A. Washington for Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We strongly believe Mr. Washington has the requisite experience and skills to lead the FAA,” wrote Martinez. “We applaud President Biden for nominating Mr. Washington to this extremely important agency to our airline union membership.” 

As one of the largest airline unions in North America and proudly representing over 100,000 airline workers, the IAM expresses his support for Mr. Washington to serve in this critical role as his resume and background demonstrate a remarkable commitment for our country.

“Mr. Washington’s 24-year career in the U.S. Army should be viewed as an asset to the FAA,” wrote Martinez in the letter. “His distinguished military service brings added value to the FAA just as the thousands of workers in the airline industry with similar backgrounds.”

“Mr. Washington’s experiences demonstrate his commitment to public service and ability to manage large complex organizations, which are instrumental qualities to lead the FAA,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richie Johnsen. “Our nation’s aviation safety agency needs stable leadership and Mr. Washington’s career has proven he’s the right fit for the job.”

Read full letter of support here.

SENIORS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE SAVING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN HEALTH CARE COSTS BECAUSE OF PRESIDENT BIDEN’S PRESCRIPTION DRUG LAW: The Biden-Harris Administration released new data showing how President Biden’s prescription drug law is lowering health care costs and prescription drug prices for seniors across the country. Americans pay two to three times more for prescription drugs than citizens in other countries and the President and Congressional Democrats took on special interests to finally lower prices for Americans. Last August, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which for the first time allows Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors, caps the cost of insulin at $35, makes recommended vaccines free for Medicare beneficiaries, and requires prescription drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise their prices faster than inflation.

Already, millions of seniors are saving hundreds of dollars each per year because of the Biden Administration’s actions, and President Biden is fighting to expand these cost savings to all Americans. Last week, he released his FY2024 budget which proposes expanding Medicare’s negotiation authority to increase the number of drugs selected for negotiation sooner after they launch, making manufacturers pay rebates if they raise drug prices faster than inflation in the commercial market, and capping the price of insulin at $35 per month for everyone– not just seniors. Already, two of the three largest producers of insulin in the country – Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk – announced they’re meeting President Biden’s call and lowering insulin costs.

New data and actions released today show that the Administration is delivering on its promise to lower health care costs for the American people:

KENTUCKY TENNESSEE JOINT MACHINISTS COUNCIL MEETS IN GATLINBURG: Delegates to the Kentucky Tennessee Joint Machinists Council recently came together for their state council meeting in Gatlinburg. The Kentucky and Tennessee Machinists Councils recently joined together to serve IAM working families in the Kentucky Tennessee region. This meeting focused on strategies to beat back anti-union legislation that continues to move through both states. 

IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace fired up the delegates with a passionate speech about the future and growth of the IAM. The meeting also included Political and Legislative Director Hasan Solomon, who summarized recent legislative and political victories across the nation. 

INDIANA STATE MACHINISTS COUNCIL MEETS: Delegates to the Indiana State Machinists Council recently came together for their state council meeting. The Indiana State Machinists Council serves as the voice of working families across the state to help push worker-friendly legislation and to help elect candidates who will fight for issues important to the IAM.

The Indiana State Machinists Council came together to discuss a variety of legislative actions for improving the lives of workers in the state

IAM Legislative and Political Assistant Director Loren Almeroth gave a report detailing the legislative and political successes of the IAM.

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