May 2017 Communication

Hello Everyone,

This is the monthly communication going into May 2017. The April communication did not make the deadline to notify members one week in advance of any spending motions, but no motions for spending money other than ordinary bills were passed at the last meeting. I am responsible for the missing the deadline, and you have my apologies. The next general meeting is scheduled for May 3rd, which is next Wednesday.

There are two items for the agenda that will spend more than one hundred dollars. First, I am asking for up to five hundred dollars ($500.00) to spend for the Aberdeen Proving Ground Centennial Celebration. One thing we want to do is provide water and sodas for workers and the public. We want to make sure our union brothers and sisters working the event get beverages for free, and we also want to give free beverages to the public waiting to ride buses to and from the celebration site.

A second motion has been submitted to spend three hundred dollars ($300.00) to support local youth baseball players’ travel to Florida to participate in training and tournaments. The donation will be made to < Caution- > This motion was proposed last month but our by-laws require seven days notice to spend more than one hundred dollars for things other than ordinary bills. We supported this group last year with a similar motion.

What good news can I bring you? The union has had several successes in the past months for our members. Some members of ATSS companies may have heard before Thanksgiving 2016 that management was adopting a new policy on lateness of employees reporting to work. The implementation was unevenly applied. Chief Steward AJ Begunich and Business Rep. Billy McIntosh had discussions and meetings with the company’s rep. There was no real pattern or history of lateness on the entire group of ATSS employees, and the companies really only had concerns with a few specific incidents. So it seemed a full-scale policy shift was not warranted. So the issue was withdrawn by the companies, which I consider a win for those members.

That being said, we must make sure that we do not give the companies more ammo to bring that discussion back. Report to work on time and leave on time, and if you have an issue on a specific day notify your supervisor. If you have an on going issue with caring for a family member or your own medical needs – you may qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA is unpaid leave, but if your situation qualifies for it, you should ALWAYS get the documentation on the books with Human Resources, even if you never use it. Why would you submit paperwork to make it official if you never intend to use it? Because you never know if that FMLA status could save your job. It gives the union a starting point to defend you.

Other news. Sometimes grievances take a long time. We recently had a couple situations where members got the companies to put agreements into writing. Written agreements are good, but it is better to also have a steward represent you in dealing with management – every time. Not just when the agreement falls apart. The union has seen a couple situations where there was an agreement in writing to settle a situation, but it has taken months to bring the situation to a successful conclusion. One of the situations involved the ATSS companies and the Military Differential Pay policy shift I discussed last year. An agreement existed in one case, and yet when the time came to actually use that agreement, the prime contractor and the sub contractors passed the agreement around like a hot potato. No one wanting to actually cut the check to make things right. It took months to resolve this one, and the member had to wait to see who would take responsibility for paying. In the end it worked out, and we are glad to see that our men and women that serve our Country got a small fraction of the respect they are due. And it is frustrating for everyone who has to deal with a grievance that is taking months to resolve with no news in between, but unfortunately that is how this works at the larger level. But just know the union is still working on the overall shift in military differential pay policy.

We need more volunteers and help. There are several committees and positions within the local lodge that need members. Some committees do not require much of your time, others do. If you want to help out, contact a steward or contact me. We need more people helping – period. I compare this to a homeowners association or the local PTA. You have a few people that show up all the time getting things done, and you have a lot of people who complain about what gets done and how it gets done. You can complain, but what have you done to change it? You can say you are busy with this or that, and you don’t have any time to do more. But this Union is fighting for your job, wages, and benefits – which pays for you to be able to do this or that. And if you team up with a few of your work friends, you can spread the actions out. One person can attend a couple meetings, another friend can make the plans to accomplish a task, and another friend can accomplish the actual task. A little effort can go a long way.

The local lodge t-shirts are still available. Summer is coming so get yours now.
Any further questions just ask a steward or have them get in contact with me.

If you have any questions, contact your steward and as always you are all welcomed at the monthly general meeting, May 3rd, at the American Legion Hall in downtown Aberdeen, starting at 5:15 PM. We’ll talk again next month.

Respectfully and Fraternally,

Bill Harkum
President, IAM&AW Local Lodge 2424

February 2017 Communication

Hello Everyone,

This is the monthly communication going into February 2017. The next general meeting is scheduled for February 1st, which is next Wednesday.
I expect the Local Lodge’s budget for 2017 will be ready for a motion at this month’s meeting. There was a general lodge meeting on January 4th, 2017. Five members showed up, which is the minimum for quorum. But because so few people were there and the 2017 budget was not ready, we passed a motion to continue paying the bills we have until the budget is adopted. I hope to pass this budget motion at the February general meeting.

Our members that work for Nakuurug are switching to a new contractor, Science and Technology Corporation (STC). Andy Powell has said there is a bridge agreement in the works that will change the language in the CBA to reflect the new company. That CBA is set to expire this fall so we expect negotiations will begin on that CBA in the future. I will give you more information as we have it.

I have continued to work on the military differential pay issue on the ATSS contract. One of our members had an agreement in writing with the company to honor the old policy because the military orders involved were dated before the change in policy. Unfortunately, the company did not honor their written agreement while the member was deployed overseas – literally involved in fighting Isis. A significant amount of time was spent by the member and the union trying to get the ATSS companies to honor their agreement. The member is back now safe and sound, but the financial strain on the member and family was only worsened by the lack of attention by the companies involved.

I have been in contact with various organizations seeking help. One agency, called Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) actually has a website where Jacobs and ATSS are listed as award winning employers for their support of Guard and Reservists. If you feel that ATSS/Jacobs/TridentTechnologies no longer belong on that list of award winning companies you can contact Maryland ESGR at 410-576-1452 or email < > and let them know how you feel about these companies treatment of our member. This is just one step we take as a union to fight for our military reservist members. More to come.

As for good news I can bring you, with the passage of our 2017 budget motion and plans going forward, we are in healthy financial shape. I know that some disagreed with the increase in monthly dues, but I hope at least this year you had an explanation of what drives those increases and how it is handled at the different levels. Any further questions just ask a steward or have them get in contact with me.

Trustee Andy Powell is still looking for volunteers for the veterans committee! Andy has the experience and connections with the local community and the veterans movement within the IAM to really do some great work. We are always looking for ways to help veterans within this local lodge and those veterans that need help in our local communities. Andy has the projects – he just needs the talent to carry them out. And you do not need to be a veteran to be on the committee, just a sincere desire to help! So contact Andy Powell at if you want to help out.

As I mentioned in December, we begin our 46th year anniversary of our local lodge is this year! In the fall of 1970 the founding members of this local lodge filed their application to bring the workforce at Aberdeen Proving Grounds into the IAM&AW. The Charter was approved December 1st, 1970 and our work force joined the IAM&AW in January 1971. So we have been building since then, but more work is required to maintain and grow what has been left to our stewardship of this local lodge. 2017 can be a good year for this local lodge with your help. Get involved!

If you have any questions, contact your steward and as always you are all welcomed at the monthly general meeting, February 1st, at the American Legion Hall in downtown Aberdeen, starting at 5:15 PM. We’ll talk again next month.

Respectfully and Fraternally,

Bill Harkum
President, IAM&AW Local Lodge 2424

2017 Weight Loss Competition

A healthy person is a happy person! In order to support a healthier attitude in life, the Wolf Creek group will be hosting a 12-week weight loss competition. Initial weigh in will begin on Tuesday, January 3rd. You have until Thursday, January 12th to do initial weigh. Awards for 1st and 2nd place. Anyone is welcome to take part.

Results will be based on percentage of body weight lost. Take this opportunity as motivation to get in shape (or back to the resemblance of your pre-holiday shape).

Final weigh-ins will take place March 20th to 24th. There will also be weekly weigh-ins for those who want to track their progress. Those who weigh in each week will be entered into a weekly prize raffle

Contact Wolf Creek Steward Danny Bennett for further details. Cell (410-490-5761) or email (

IAM Veterans Committee Shows Support


U.S. MILITARY VETERANS November 29, 2016

IAM/NFFE Local 2424 Veterans Committee members took part in the annual Veterans Day Observation ceremony in Aberdeen, MD. Committee member and American Legion Post 128 Commander Andy Powell laid a wreath at this year’s ceremony honoring the men and women who served in our nation’s military.

Powell was joined at the event with Local 2424 Veteran’s Committee member Richard Davis, who is also the American Legion Post 128 Sergeant at Arms. Both Powell and Davis are working to grow the Local 2424 IAM/NFFE Veteran’s Committee.

“I am proud to see our Veteran’s Committees participating in events like this,” said IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux. “Honoring our nation’s veterans and helping them succeed is what the IAM Veteran’s Program is about.”

Major General Kirk Vollmecke of Aberdeen Proving Grounds was the keynote speaker at the annual event, which is jointly put on by the American Legion Bernard L. Tobin Post 128 and VFW Post 10028.

November 2016 Communication

Hello Everyone,

This is the monthly communication going into November. The next general meeting is scheduled for November 2nd, which is next Wednesday. Under our Local Lodge By-Laws it is proper procedure to notify membership seven calendar days in advance of any motion to spend local lodge funds in excess of one hundred dollars that is not an ordinary bill or cost to run the lodge. This will be one method of that notice. We will also use the Local Lodge’s website to post notice of these financial motions from this point going forward.

No motions involving funds in excess of one hundred dollars have been filed for this month. I expect that we will handle normal business and discuss setting up some committees, one being the budget committee, which is the responsibility of the Trustees, the financial secretary, and myself. At last month’s general meeting we discussed the Government Stewards and setting a budget for their monthly expenses. There is some language in our Local Lodge By-Laws that is confusing. In the coming months we will need to update and clarify our By-Laws to clear up the language. We will use the normal procedure with multiple readings of the changes before adopting the changes – which will then need approval from the International President’s office. I hope that many of you will turn out to help this process along.

Now, I want to cover a few things for the ATSS contract members. You will soon be getting a health care census package from the IAM Benefits Trust Fund. This was negotiated into your current contract. What we are looking to do is to have another option for healthcare each year. In order to do that the Benefits Trust Funds needs to see what the potential is for costs. Simply put, if only a few people send in the census – the insurance pool will look small and costly, so the premiums will probably be high. If many people send in the census – the insurance pool will look larger and less costly, so the premiums may be cheaper. But I need to be clear, you are not signing up for this insurance at this point. We are trying to get a group quote. To our Brothers and Sisters on other contracts, this census doesn’t involve you, but we are working to get the language added to each contract.

What good news can I bring you? Well I was very pleased with the stewards training session earlier this month. We had eleven stewards in the class and we received training on topics specific to our types of contracts. Bringing the trainer here saved us considerable money. And I want to thank all the stewards that attended. Some, especially our Brothers and Sisters in Letterkenny and Fort Indiantown Gap, couldn’t make the training, which was understandable. But I want to ensure you that training for your stewards will be a hot topic. We will place a high value on training for stewards. Experience is a good thing, but it goes hand in hand with training to keep our stewards at the high levels you expect from your stewards. And if you are interested in becoming a union steward talk to one to find out how.

Many of you are already aware that one of our members, Doug Lingenfelter, passed away on October 5th. It was my honor to represent all of you at his viewing. His family was presented with a Bible, a flower arrangement, and a US Flag that was flown over the US Capitol on October 6th in Doug’s honor. His family was very grateful for our gifts. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger and his staff pulled off amazing things to get the flag for us, and I want to thank him!! Several members also worked behind the scenes to pull this together and I want to thank Ms. Rosemary Moss, Federal Vice Chair Randi Lynch-Sieranski, and ATSS Chief Steward AJ Begunich. And some of you may also already be aware that we also had a member involved in a serious motorcycle accidental. Please keep these families in your prayers.

Trustee Andy Powell is working on a few things for Veterans. He is looking for volunteers for a Veterans committee within our local lodge. Also, onNovember 11th Veterans Day the VFW 10028 will be hosting the Veterans Day Service in the Park near the Aberdeen Library, then a luncheon at their post near Walmart. Also at their luncheon, they will pay a special tribute to all Vietnam Vets. And on November 12th the American Legion will host “Music for Our Military”. This will be a piano concert, where Dr. Duke Thompson will explain how he is using music as an alternate cure for things like PTSD! Tickets are $35, all money raised will be used to provide cost free treatment to Veterans or Active Duty Military! If you want to volunteer or have further questions please contact Andy at < > .

I also want to let you know that the 46-year anniversary of our local lodge will be on December 1st! In the fall of 1970 the founding members of this local lodge filed their application to bring the workforce at Aberdeen Proving Grounds into the IAM&AW. Their application to the IAM&AW showed that twenty two hundred employees at the Proving Grounds asked for union membership. We stand on their shoulders today as we carry on the business of this local lodge!

As usual, If you have any questions, contact your steward and as always you are all welcomed at the monthly general meeting, November 2nd, at the American Legion Hall in downtown Aberdeen, starting at 5:15 PM. We’ll talk again next month.

Respectfully and Fraternally,

Bill Harkum
President, IAM&AW Local Lodge 2424

October 2016 Local Lodge Communication

Hello Everyone,

This is the monthly communication going into October. The next general meeting is scheduled for October 5th, which is next Wednesday. Under our Local Lodge By-Laws it is proper procedure to notify membership seven calendar days in advance of any motion to spend local lodge funds in excess of one hundred dollars that is not an ordinary bill or cost to run the lodge. This will be one method of that notice. We will also use the Local Lodge’s website to post notice of these financial motions from this point going forward.

At this month’s general meeting I expect one motion may be made involving funds above one hundred dollars. At last month’s general meeting the motion to spend five hundred dollars ($500) for an ad in the event program for the upcoming District 1 Steward’s Appreciation Night was withdrawn. In discussions about these program ads, the money raised is intended to be donated to the Winpisinger Education Center at the IAM&AW International Headquarters in Hollywood, MD. So it was suggested that we donate One Thousand dollars ($1,000) to the Winpisinger Center fund directly. I expect that a motion will be made at October’s general meeting to accomplish that.

Additionally, the Winpisinger Center is sending a trainer to us at APG in October to train all groups of stewards at one session. This will be a cost savings because we will not have to send stewards one by one to the Center for training with expenses and travel. Thanks to Business Rep. Bill McIntosh for working this on-site training out for our stewards! It saves money and time!

Now, I want to revisit the military pay differential topic I brought up in the August and September Communication. First, Thank You to everyone that helped in this effort!! Union members did forward along this email as I asked. We did get a quick response from Jacobs, but they have not changed their minds. We expected that and already have the next moves prepared. But we still need your help.

Some questions came up about why I was using email instead of a paper copy sent via US Mail. Simply – cost. We would have had to print stamped envelopes and run off paper copies that would not get used. We pay for each stamp and printed copy with our current services. Some questions were asked why the email was sent late on a Friday afternoon. I wanted to time my email with the efforts of others. That Friday afternoon marked one week from the time one of our members sent an email directly to Steve Hugg asking for an explanation and a change of heart on the policy. Once that work week went by without an answer – I wanted Steve and his partners to hear from all of us. As of this past Monday, Steve Hugg has still not answered that reservist’s email directly. He didn’t answer my email directly. Those that forwarded copies didn’t get a direct answer either. Steve just included the topic in his weekly message. So although we got a response, we also got the message that Steve Hugg goes around the union, rather than deal directly with us.

What could we have done better? I could have communicated with each of you better to explain what action I was asking you to do. There was some confusion with the instructions on how to forward the email. My fault. We also had no way to track how many members forwarded the email. We could have set up an additional email account for every member to include on the forwarded email so that we could see how much support it got. Some union members didn’t want to get involved. I knew that and understood, but that was one of the reasons to try to pull us together and focus our efforts. To those that feared confronting our bosses – we saw that no one was disciplined for doing what we did. The only negative action from the company was that it appears they have banned my union email address from the DoD email system. I can get a new one! But my hope is to show you a new way that this union has to fight in the 21st Century. Used correctly, these emails and social media posts can do a lot more than you realize. With social media, the whole internet is watching and we can demonstrate that these companies have real issues going on with their workforce that many may not be aware. Rather than stand a picket line and members lose pay, we can fight these companies in new ways that have quicker results on their bottom lines. We just need to stand together!

Speaking of standing together, the T-Shirt motion from last month did pass. We are working out the design and order for the first round of T-shirts, and hope to have some soon. It would still be great to see union members wear blue shirts on the first Wednesday of each month to be visible about supporting this local lodge. I hope I can convince more of you to join me in that effort.

What good news can I bring you? The local lodge had a successful election and more ATSS employees joined this union in September. Welcome to the Multimedia Team, who will become Tech 2424 classified workers. This was good work by ATSS Chief Steward AJ Begunich and District Organizer Andy Powell.

I also want to Thank Julie Kirk and her staff from DCSS. They were also affected by the Jacobs policy change on military offset pay, and Julie and her stewards did a great job in writing emails to the companies. And I also want to thank Danny Bennett and the Wolf Creek members who worked an issue on pension contributions for a couple workers that had moved into their company from Jacobs. That is a major benefit of having a union run pension plan – because if you changed companies in the outside world, you normally can’t move your pension contributions with you. I also want to make sure I acknowledge our Federal union members and their Federal stewards who have been working hard for members. These stewards have a different set of challenges than the contractor stewards and I just want them to know it is appreciated! If you have any questions, contact your steward and as always you are all welcomed at the monthly general meeting, October 5th, at the American Legion Hall in downtown Aberdeen, starting at 5:15 PM. We’ll talk again next month.

Respectfully and Fraternally,

Bill Harkum
President, IAM&AW Local Lodge 2424
IAM logo

September 2016 Message from Local Union President

Hello Everyone,

This is the monthly communication going into September. Most of the Contractor members just received a communication two weeks ago, but I hope to continue to update everyone, one week before the normal general meetings of the Local Lodge.

The next general meeting is scheduled for September 7th, which is the Wednesday after Labor Day.

Under our Local Lodge By-Laws it is proper procedure to notify membership seven calendar days in advance of any motion to spend local lodge funds in excess of one hundred dollars that is not an ordinary bill or cost to run the lodge. This communication will be one method of that notice, although we will also still use bulletin boards and other postings as we have done in the past.

At this month’s general meeting, I expect three motions may be made involving funds. One motion may be made for a t-shirt order for lodge members that will not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00). These T-shirts are intended for all local lodge members who want one, but we may not have enough for everyone in this first order – and there is a purpose to this, I will explain in this email. We are ordering a conservative amount of shirts from a union–made source and we may order more at a later date if there is enough demand for them. Another motion may also take place that may spend up to five hundred dollars ($500.00) for an ad in the program for the upcoming District 1 Stewards Appreciation night. In the past these ads have cost considerably more than five hundred dollars, and this year, five hundred is the lowest amount of donation available. I also expect a motion for $600.00 for a projector and screen for the general meetings and trainings. If you have any questions, see your steward and/or show up at the general meeting.

What good news can I bring you? Well in our efforts to make this local lodge more digital and internet accessible, I am very pleased to tell you that for ATSS contract members you can now look up the status of grievances on our website, . ATSS Chief Steward AJ Begunich has put a lot of effort and thought into what our website and other assets can do for our members, and we are hopeful now that AJ has set up a good template for ATSS that other stewards for other contracts will be able to duplicate. The ATSS Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the status of grievances is under the ATSS tab on our website. More to come. So, I will always encourage you to talk to a steward if you have any questions – but, now you can also see on the website where we stand on the grievances.

Also, now is a good time for those members on contracts that participate in the IAM National Pension Fund to check in on your pension. That website is I want to pass along a lesson learned about the pension fund website. Our Office Manager, Rosemary Moss, can help you with many things as far as keeping your information up to date with the union, but she cannot gain access to your pension details for you. Each member must keep their personal information up to date with the pension plan and also check to make sure your record is accurate. The best way to do that is through the pension website or calling IAM Pension Customer Service (800-424-9608). Calling Ms. Rosemary does not update your information with the pension plan, because some of those details involve identifying information about you, like social security numbers, that are best controlled by you.

Now, I want to revisit the military pay differential topic I brought up in the August Communication (Federal members, you were not sent this information because it was mainly the contractor issues). If you did not see that communication, I brought up that ATSS, and the prime contractor Jacobs Technology, has stopped the practice of paying our military Reservist and National Guard members the offset difference between their base salary at Jacobs and their base military pay when activated for deployment or active service. The ATSS CBA or Federal Law does not cover this issue, it was just a practice that many large companies, like Jacobs, were doing, during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ATSS tried to stop doing it once before, but reversed the decision once Jacobs management above the Aberdeen Proving Ground level became aware of the decision. Now that decision has come back again.

Why is this important? First, it is a change in working conditions that was not negotiated with the Union. It may only impact a couple dozen of your co-workers, but it was still worthy of discussion about the impact of removing the practice. But more importantly, it’s about the stability that that money provides to our Reservists.

I have heard of a couple stories about the impact. In one case, the upcoming deployment of one of our members is going to mean that a new daycare will have to be used for that family’s two children. Mom would have little chance to get off work in time to safely navigate traffic to pick up the children before their current daycare closes, and dad will be unavailable during his deployment. The military offset pay would stabilize that family’s budget so that they can afford the new daycare situation without worry. Another example could be a member deploying and is trying to arrange a military leave trip back to the US during the deployment so that they do not miss a high school graduation. The military pay offset would make this a fairly simple expense – not a budget busting one without it.

The point is that WE value and respect the sacrifices our Reservists and National Guard members make. It is my intention to respectfully make those values known to ATSS and Jacobs’s management, and encourage them to consider our values in these decisions going forward. This is where I am asking you to stand up and do something to show support for our union members.

I will draft an email and send it to the parties involved with this decision; Steve Hugg – ATSS Program Manager, Donnie Hall – ATSS Union Relations Rep, Darren Kraabel – Jacobs Senior VP for Aerospace and Technology (Steve Hugg’s Boss), and Jill Clemons – VP and COO at Erika Lane Enterprises. These are good people, Mr. Kraabel is a former Air Force Officer, and so he should understand the importance of home front support for the deployed service member. We just need to respectfully share how much we value and respect our co-workers who put on the uniform of this Country and protect our freedoms. I hope you see the value in supporting them too!

Each of you will also get a copy of this email from me. If you agree with this cause, I will ask you to forward the email to these managers, too. You can comment or not, if you choose to, but you should not fear repercussion because it is my email – which will be proper and respectful. We do it in this way so that we do not run afoul of the rules for signing a petition, which is against the law at APG and the IAM Constitution. You won’t be signing a petition, and we will not be doing any type of job action – period. We are simply going to respectfully communicate with our managers, in hopes they reconsider their position. If you don’t want to participate in that way – that is fine too. But I hope that as much verbal support I have heard from ATSS members on this issue that we can generate hundreds of email forwards to show that we are together on this issue.

For our Brothers and Sisters that work for other contracts and other employers, I encourage you to forward this email, too. There is strength in numbers. The smaller groups in this local lodge have leverage because the larger units have your back! I hope in this matter you can stand tall and show the ATSS members you back them too! For our Federal members, it is understood that you need to not interact with contractors and contractor management. There are others ways to show support.

About the T-Shirts, You will see me in a blue union T-shirt the first Wednesday of every month. If you support the above ATSS members’ cause and support your Local Lodge, we will give you a t-shirt to wear on the first Wednesday of every month to show we are together. If we can’t get you a t-shirt right away, just wear a blue shirt. I know it might seem silly, but if we can wear purple on every Friday before a Ravens game, or Green for our Eagles fans – then why can’t we wear blue once a month to support the organization, that is fighting for your paycheck and benefits? I know I am going to try – I hope you join me!

Now lastly, Labor Day. I want to wish all of you and your families a safe and enjoyable Labor Day! But, did you know, that an IAM member is credited with starting the concept of Labor Day. The IAM website says “research is showing that it most likely was the idea of a Matthew Maguire, a machinist, who would later become the secretary for IAM Local Lodge 344 in Paterson, N.J. Records indicate, that he proposed the holiday in 1882, while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the New York Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic, which was the first event of its kind.” The first Labor Day was on a Tuesday. Several states adopted the day as a holiday in the following years. But, it was the tragedy of the deadly end of the Pullman strike in Western America that brought Congress to unanimously enact the Holiday Nationwide in 1894, making it the first Monday in September. (When was the last time you heard of the US Congress acting unanimously?) So on Monday, you will have a day off to celebrate the labor that the American Worker provides to our economy and way of life. Enjoy it! You earned it!

Respectfully and Fraternally,
Bill Harkum
President, IAM&AW Local Lodge 2424

July 2016 Message From President Bill Harkum

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to update everyone on what is happening with the Local Lodge for this month. It has been a busy month with many different events taking place.

There will not be a monthly general meeting in July or August, as per our usual schedule. The next general meeting is scheduled for September 7th, which is the Wednesday after Labor Day. This is also the same week that the IAM&AW will hold it’s 39th Grand Lodge Convention in Chicago, which takes place every four years. At our lodge’s general meeting this past April three delegates were nominated and appointed to attend this Convention on behalf of our lodge. I have been notified that one delegate may have to drop out for personal reasons, but please know that we have the intention to replace that delegate if necessary using the proper procedures available to our lodge under the IAM Constitution.

What good news can I bring you? Well our Stewards and Business Rep. Bill McIntosh have been working hard! Once again we won a back pay case and reached a settlement in favor of a member doing work beyond their job description. This case has taken some time to reach a conclusion. Great job done by the ATSS stewards! Not all grievances are alike and each takes it’s own journey to the point of closure, but this one demonstrated once again that union members are often being directed by management to work above their job description for the lower wage.

Another success I can report is on the Federal side. Some of our members in the Civilian workforce of the Federal Government had been given some restrictions without following the established procedures. The Federal stewards recognized that the procedure had not been followed and were able to get those restrictions lifted. Great job by the Federal stewards to protect our members!

What can I bring you for lessons learned to help build and strengthen that union muscle I talked about in last month’s communication? Well over the past month I’ve heard of two cases involving our members that had some critical errors. Both involved members talking with management during investigations without union representation. In one case the member disputed what happened during the investigation process and interview. There were several witnesses to management’s version of events, against that member’s version of events with no other witnesses. In the second case the investigation of events happened during several separate interviews over a period of days. The members requested union representation during the process, but early on in the investigation before the union steward was involved, management heard and documented what it felt was the key evidence.

As I said earlier, not all grievances are alike and each takes it’s own journey to closure, but if a union member chooses to go it alone during a investigation interview, that member may give up important rights that are designed to help protect your job.

Most people are aware of the Miranda rights that American’s have during a criminal case; you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you, etc. Well at work we do not have Miranda rights for violations of company policy – but Union members do have what are called Weingarten Rights. These rights were upheld by a 1975 Supreme Court decision that held that employers must abide by rules during discipline investigations. Those rights are:

Rule 1: The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.

Rule 2: After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options:

1. grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and (prior to the interview continuing) the representative has a chance to consult privately with the employee;

2. deny the request and end the interview immediately; or

3. give the employee a clear choice between having the interview without representation, or ending the interview.

Rule 3: If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice < Caution- > and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.

Members must understand the employer does have the right to interview you and you have to respond to questions if the conditions above are met, but you give away that right when you talk to management without union representation. But you can always request union representation, even if you have already spoken during the interview, but what ever you already said is on the record. This is what I feel happened in the cases I just explained.

So what can you do to build that union muscle? First – recognize why you are talking to management. You do have the right to ask management before any interview if this matter is regarding or could lead to a discipline investigation. If they say yes, you should clearly ask for union representation and await that representative before answering questions. Many of us have seen that accident/safety investigations and discipline investigations can become one in the same. Most employees want a safe work place and they freely discuss an accident or safety incident with management in hopes of finding the root cause of an accident. Management also wants a safe work place, but if they have uncovered information during the process, they are free to use that information to administer discipline.

The second thing you can do is to know the stewards that represent your CBA and your workplace. If your first time interacting with them is during a crisis, you may not have the trust necessary to listen to their advice and guidance. Your steward is not a legal defense attorney. They are there to help you through the process and offer guidance on how to best present your facts, and also be an additional witness to what happened during the process.

The third thing I can recommend is for us to grow as a Union. We are in this together. We have strength when we stand together, and we are weakened when some go it alone, and then turn to the Union for help after realizing alone was not a wise path. I have heard several people complain. I am open to criticism, but criticism needs to be based on facts, not opinions. The facts are many stewards are working extra hours and putting in the hard work to represent our members. Every grievance travels it’s own path, and not every grievance will have identical outcomes. We may not like every outcome, but we have to be wise enough to understand that winning is a process, not an event. The Tampa Bay Rays may win one ballgame against the Baltimore Orioles, but that doesn’t put them in 1st place. The Orioles have stacked up a winning record this year by playing good baseball. (no offense to our Pennsylvania Brothers and Sisters and their teams) As a Union we need to focus on our process so that we play winning ball, every game, every year.

With that said, on behalf of your lodge officers and stewards, we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable 4th of July holiday. Thanks to all of you for your individual and team efforts to support this Great Nation and it’s Uniformed Service members, at home and abroad. We give our prayers and best wishes to each of you and your families during this holiday. We’ll talk again next month!

Respectfully and Fraternally,

Bill Harkum

President, IAM&AW Local Lodge 2424