Machinists Helping NASA Touch the Sun

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – AUGUST 12: In this handout provided by NASA, The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket is seen in this long exposure photograph as it launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 12, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Suns atmosphere called the corona. The probe will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

NASA recently launched a spacecraft to the Sun to explore the secrets behind the solar wind’s speeds. IAM members played a huge role in making this mission a reality.

IAM Local 44 members in Decatur, AL built the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that carried the solar probe and IAM Local 610 members launched the rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to “touch” the Sun and will travel directly into the Sun’s atmosphere about 4 million miles from the surface. At closest approach, Parker Solar Probe hurtles around the Sun at approximately 430,000 m.p.h. That’s fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in one second.

“IAM members continue to play a huge role in the space program,”said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “Whether it is making the mission to Mars possible or unlocking the secrets of the Sun, IAM members continue to take us to higher heights. We are proud of the men and women who continue to make great contributions to space exploration.”

“These are the moments that I am in awe of what our Members do, not just in AL and Florida but throughout the U.S. Space Program. Without enough fanfare or praise, it is the IAM Members on the ground who are changing the world in which we live,” said IAM’s Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin. “You have the admiration of not just your fellow union brothers and sisters but also from every young boy or girl that looks up in the skies and realizes anything is possible.” 

Parker Solar Probe Launches on NASA Voyage to ‘Touch the Sun’

View pictures here  

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The Devil Is in the Details

IAM Local Lodge 2902 Negotiating Committee (L to R) Porter Timmons, Rigo Contreras and Vince Hernandez

Before a pilot can hit the skies, he or she needs to practice and ends up logging a lot hours on flight simulators before ever leaving the ground.  These training machines have become invaluable tools for pilots.  And taking care of these simulators is a very important task that the members of the IAMAW have been doing proudly for close to a decade. 

“A Union contract isn’t just about dollars and cents.  A lot of time the benefits of an IAM contract is found in the details.  Although a raise is always good for union families, our members realize that strengthening work rules and bringing classifications together creates rewards that will last generations, showing the company that we are sincere in our solidarity to the labor movement and our cause,” said IAM’s Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin.

The IAM bargaining unit at Fidelity Technologies Corporation consists of members in three separate classifications who work as Simulator Technicians.  These workers perform preventive maintenance and repairs to the simulators used by pilots in the U.S. Armed Services and U.S. Coast Guard at NAS Whiting Field located in Florida’s panhandle. From the surveys, it was clear these members needed and wanted a wage increase.  But a closer look at the details of the contract made it clear other changes needed to happen as well.

“When Fidelity was awarded the contract, some of the members were reclassified and ended up taking a pay cut.  Our goal was to attempt to get some of that back and we did, with a little extra”, said Brad Smith, District 75 Business Representative.  “We were able to get increases for all classifications, which worked out to about a nine percent rise in wages over the three years of this agreement, as well as additional money for the pension and health and welfare increases.”

But this Negotiating Committee didn’t stop there.  Together, they were able to secure items such as company funding for computer certifications, improvements to sick and personal time and clarified overtime language and rules. 

“When presented to the members, this first-time committee was applauded for all the improvements in this proposal.  That’s not something you see all the time,” said Smith happily. “It was a proud moment for Local Lodge 2902, IAM District 75 and the Machinists Union when the members recognize the value of their hard work.”

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Stop the Layoffs at Red River

Machinists Union International President Robert Martinez Jr. and National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) President Randy L. Erwin sent a joint letter  to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expressing serious concern regarding the impact of the planned layoff of 306 IAM members at the Red River Army Depot (RRAD) in Texarkana, Texas. The planned layoff comes less than three months after 600 RRAD workers lost their jobs. 

“RRAD is the main economic driver for the Texarkana area with a direct impact on communities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma,and Texas,” said Martinez and Erwin. “A recent economic impact study  completed by the University of Arkansas found that the May 2018 layoffs alone, totaling 585 RRAD jobs, would slash the region’s economic output by $255 million and result in the loss of more than 400 indirect and induced jobs in the surrounding community. Given the importance of RRAD to the region, it should be unacceptable to sustain this loss of workload and the subsequent damage to the economy without an ardent effort to demand the transfer of work back to this depot”

“Our IAM members have the skills and expertise to support the Army’s mission at RRAD, said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin. “Our work strengthens national security and grows the local economy. These layoffs can have a negative impact on both.  We ask Governor Abbott to join the fight to keep this vital work and jobs at RRAD.”

IAM and IAM-NFFE are requesting the governor’s immediate assistance to avert these needless and harmful layoffs.

Read the full letter   

The Machinists Union and its affiliate, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM), represent approximately 2,200 employees at RRAD. IAM Local 1243 represents federal contract employees and NFFE-IAM Local 2189 represents federal term employees.

Red River Army Depot, established in 1941 , is a U.S. military combat system and tactical vehicle repair and maintenance facility in Texarkana, Texas.

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